Amazon Web Services launches cloud assault against on-premise filers

Amazon Web Services wants to convince customers to replace on-premises files with a caching gateway channel that leads to an SMB filer in its public cloud.

It has launched the Amazon FSx File Gateway as an on-premises virtual machine or hardware appliance. This receives file access requests from local users and applications and sends them up to its FSx for Windows File Server running in its public cloud. The network link is said to be optimised and the FSx File Gateway maintains a cache of frequently-accessed files, providing low-latency access to them and minimising network transfers.

Steve Roberts, an Amazon developer advocate focused on .NET and PowerShell development on AWS, said this is “a new type of AWS Storage Gateway that helps you access data stored in the cloud with Amazon FSx for Windows File Server, instead of continuing to use and manage on-premises file servers.”

Blocks & Files diagram.

It’s a new type because it accompanies the existing S3 File Gateway, which is used to ingest on-premises data into Amazon’s S3 storage service. The FSx File Gateway supports the SMB protocol, and not NFS. It is accessible from Windows, MacOS and Linux systems, and supports multiple users accessing home directories and group shares.

Roberts noted: “You can attach an Amazon FSx file system and present it through a gateway to your applications and users provided they are all members of the same Active Directory domain, and the AD infrastructure can be hosted in AWS Directory Service, or managed on-premises.”

Amazon’s FSx for Windows File Server offers file restoration, data deduplication, Active Directory integration, and access control via Access Control Lists (ACLs). The FSx File Gateway is integrated with backups taken directly within Amazon FSx and those coordinated by AWS Backup.

Roberts suggests that remote and branch offices (ROBO) could use the FSX File Gateway and treat the FSx for Windows File Server in AWS as a core data centre filer for the ROBO sites. There is then no need to have on-premises ROBO filers or one in the data centre either. 

Competing suppliers, including CTERA, Egnyte, Nasuni and Panzura will no doubt be promoting their multi-cloud support and NFS, as well as SMB support. That NFS support will no doubt be mentioned by on-premises filer suppliers who may also say that caching is limited and only relevant to frequently-accessed files.