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Amazon Goes After Enterprise Data

It’s the first time Amazon has proposed putting its own software on the ground inside a corporate data center

Amazon's cloud, which, let's face it, is still pretty much developer turf, broadened its push into the enterprise Wednesday with the introduction of AWS Storage Gateway, a beta virtual appliance nominally meant to automate enterprise data backup to S3 while creating a comfort level with the cloud among the leery.

It's the first time Amazon has proposed putting its own software on the ground inside a corporate data center. And the stuff's targeted at large corporations. Amazon says some customers asked for such a solution. It also expects resellers to offer the service.

It is of course proprietary and a competitive problem for other cloud storage and gateway suppliers. Come to think of it, Amazon as repository of corporate data is a problem for a lot of people.

The Gateway - think of it as an EBS snapshot-taking umbilical cord - will make it easier to use Amazon S3 storage for disaster recovery, business continuity and data mitigation as well as low-latency backup and once a company's data is mirrored in the cloud - particularly since it'll probably be stored there as EBS volumes - well, users will be tempted to experiment with other AWS services like EC2. Might as well, the data's already there.

You see where this is going, right?

As Amazon put it in its official announcement, "The AWS Storage Gateway also makes it easy to leverage the on-demand compute capacity of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) for additional capacity during peak periods, for new projects, or as a more cost-effective way to run normal enterprise workloads."

Cloud backup of course promises the inevitable, tantalizing reduction in on-premise hardware, manpower and fears of tapes getting lost in transit.

The Gateway only needs commodity hardware and works with exiting DAS and SANs and applications. Amazon promises the data will be transported and stored securely using the industry standards required by banks and healthcare.

No applications have to be re-architected to accommodate the Gateway. It uses a standard iSCSI interface, transfers data to S3 over SSL, and AES encrypts it when it gets there. Then it makes it redundant.

Amazon is offering a 60-day free trial after which the service will run $125 a month for each Gateway, with storage set at 14 cents a gigabyte a month.

Each Gateway can handle up to 12TB of storage across 12 volumes. Fear not, accounts can have multiple gateways.

The service is available from Amazon data centers in the US, Ireland, Singapore and Tokyo.

The widgetry is still a beta and relatively rudimentary. Initially - and non-threateningly - all the data will be kept on the appliance - and on-premise - while it's backed up in the cloud - so-called Gateway-Stored volumes.

Gateway-Cached volumes, where the only full copy of the data is in the cloud, and the data in the appliance is only what's frequently accessed, won't be available for a few months. There's no deduplication or WAN optimization yet either although Amazon likely has plans.

Amazon said the first release of the Gateway takes the form of a VM image for VMware ESXi 4.1, with plans to support other virtual environments in the future. It currently supports mounting of its iSCSI storage volumes using Windows and Red Hat iSCSI Initiators.

Here's how Amazon sees the pieces fitting together:

See http://aws.amazon.com/storagegateway.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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