Amazon today announced that the general availability of Amazon Elastic File System, a service available through the market-leading Amazon Web Services (AWS) public cloud that customers can use to store and access files for multiple applications that are hosted on AWS.efs_splash_3Amazon first announced the service way back in April 2015 and released the preview shortly after that. Now it’s available for anyone to use in three regions — US East (Northern Virginia), US West (Oregon), and EU (Ireland) — with more regions to come, Amazon said in a statement.

The Elastic File System, or EFS, service can work with multiple EC2 instances, even when they’re in different availability zones. That’s one characteristic that distinguishes it from, say, AWS’ Elastic Block Store Provisioned IOPS service. (Also, data uploaded to EFS is stored across multiple availability zones.) In typical AWS fashion, customers only pay for the storage they use on EFS. Amazon thinks EFS will be useful for use cases like big data, media processing, content management, and home directories.

The EFS service is one thing that can help AWS stand out further from other public clouds, right up there with further geographical expansions and price cuts. But it’s not 100 percent unique. Microsoft has the Azure File Storage service. Google offers the open-source Cloud Storage FUSE but doesn’t guarantee long-term maintenance of the tool.

Even though Amazon has had more than a year to improve the service since announcing it, EFS does have an important shortcoming: It won’t work with EC2 instances that run Windows. Also, each customer can have no more than 10 file systems in a given AWS region, each file system can have no more than 3GB/second throughput across all clients, and no more than 128 active user accounts can have a file open at the same time, Amazon says.

Documentation for the service is here.

Also today AWS announced the availability of its Mumbai region.

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