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AWS Storage Gateway performance depends on resource placement

Senior technology editor Stephen Bigelow breaks down how AWS Storage Gateway can trip up users' hybrid cloud strategies. Beware these issues with latency and security.

For enterprises with hybrid architectures, AWS Storage Gateway can serve as an important link between their on-premises and public cloud resources -- though the service's limitations prove not everything should be kept in the cloud.

Storage Gateway supports a wide range of storage tasks and data types. Essentially, it enables AWS users to set up file, volume or tape gateways that connect their local environments to AWS cloud infrastructure. However, there are several limitations and challenges that can affect AWS Storage Gateway performance in regard to latency, security, reliability and data cache costs.

Editor's Note: To learn how to set up AWS Storage Gateway and explore its capabilities and
implementations in-depth, check out this tip on Storage Gateway basics for a hybrid cloud strategy.

Connection and latency

First, consider how the availability of AWS' hybrid storage service will affect business operations. For example, connectivity could be disrupted by internet congestion, ISP outages or other factors. Your organization might be better off hosting its data locally and using the gateway for asynchronous backups or replications to cloud storage, rather than putting the data in the cloud and caching it locally.

However, you can mitigate network bandwidth and latency concerns sometimes with dedicated network connection, such as AWS Direct Connect.

Access, encryption and management

Employ AWS identity and access management and Key Management System to authenticate access and encrypt data in the cloud. Lifecycle tools will help ensure proper data retention policy and mitigate the recurring costs of cloud storage consumption.

Storage Gateway also integrates with several native monitoring and management tools, including Amazon CloudWatch, AWS CloudTrail, the AWS Management Console and the AWS Command Line Interface.

Data cache reliability and costs

You need to consider data cache performance when you place data in the cloud and only copy it to cache in local storage. This approach is most effective when the majority of the locally requested data is contained in the local cache. If your data changes rapidly, frequent cache updates can cause data discontinuity and reduced performance. In extreme cases, it may be better to keep data local and make a copy to the cloud instead.

Organizations can save money if they utilize compression or data deduplication tools to reduce the total amount of cloud storage. Other features available through the AWS Storage Gateway console, such as storage bandwidth throttling, can limit the amount of network bandwidth, preventing storage tasks from monopolizing the available bandwidth and possibly affecting application performance.

Finally, take full advantage of available metrics to oversee and evaluate AWS Storage Gateway performance. The service itself provides a wide range of metrics such as cache hit percentage, cache utilization, cloud download latency and information on data uploads and downloads. By watching these and other metrics, administrators can evaluate service quality and make informed decisions about possible configuration changes that can enhance availability and performance.

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