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Words to go: AWS data storage

If you're confused about which data storage option is ideal for your enterprise, refer to our reference sheet on AWS tools and services. Each service features strengths and weaknesses worth considering.

AWS' storage options are among the cloud provider's most-used tools. AWS data storage and transfer are not without their challenges, but proper data management and organization are worth the effort for businesses that know how to put business data to use.

Determining the optimal AWS data storage method and service can be an overwhelming task for cloud newcomers. Even if a business knows what it wants, the brand-based terminology presents a hurdle. AWS customers know this all too well, as the constant evolution of the cloud provider's services makes it difficult to keep up -- let alone start.

This glossary of AWS data storage services may help you work through your cloud data conundrum.

Aurora: Amazon Aurora is a relational database compatible with MySQL, a popular open source database management system derived from Structured Query Language (SQL). Users can manage Aurora provisioning, patching, backup and recovery through Amazon Relational Database Service. Aurora automatically scales and encrypts data in transit.

Determining the optimal AWS data storage method and service can be an overwhelming task for cloud newcomers.

Database Migration Service: The AWS Database Migration Service allows enterprises to migrate databases from one cloud or on-premises resource to another. While it can serve as a gateway to the AWS cloud, Database Migration Service also allows for homogenous migrations between non-AWS databases, and supports most commonly used databases. Source databases remain operational during the move, reducing downtime.

DynamoDB: Amazon DynamoDB is a managed NoSQL database service designed to offer low latency and high scalability. DynamoDB supports document and key-value store models. Its performance and flexibility make it a good fit for mobile, Web, gaming and Internet of Things applications.

ElastiCache: Amazon ElastiCache is an AWS-managed caching service, which complies with the open source Memcached system to alleviate database loads and speed up applications.

Elastic Block Store (EBS): Amazon Elastic Block Store is a highly available block-level storage system for use with Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances. It is best used to store persistent data, as opposed to dynamic data. The AWS user selects an EBS volume type and size, and then attaches it to an EC2 instance. Copies of volumes can be saved as snapshots.

Glacier: Amazon Glacier is a cold storage service, storing infrequently accessed data as a less expensive alternative to other AWS data storage options.

Import/Export Snowball: AWS Import/Export Snowball is a physical data transport device. AWS customers plug it in and load large amounts of data on premises. AWS then imports the data after the user returns the device. The process also works in reverse to export data from AWS. The Snowball device can transport up to 50 terabytes of data.

Redshift: Amazon Redshift is a fully managed AWS data warehouse. Redshift connects to SQL-based clients and business intelligence tools. Redshift offers fast querying and I/O performance, making it ideal for big data analytics.

Relational Database Service (RDS): Amazon RDS offers a variety of database engine options to help users migrate, back up and recover relational databases. Code and applications in use with existing databases carry over to RDS. RDS automatically patches and backs up database software to allow for data recovery.

Simple Storage Service (S3): Amazon S3 is a scalable object storage service. AWS users can store -- via a Web interface -- and retrieve data from anywhere on the Web, paying for only the storage they use. S3 offers several storage classes and works in conjunction with a variety of Amazon cloud services.

Storage Gateway: AWS Storage Gateway connects on-premises appliances to AWS-based storage, allowing users to take advantage of the scalability and price of the cloud while still operating native workloads.

Next Steps

Evaluate EFS and other AWS storage options

Compare Azure and AWS database services

Decide on an AWS storage option

This was last published in April 2016

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