As part of your AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate exam, we recommend you learn the three types of AWS Storage Gateway configurations and understand which option to use under what scenario. The AWS Storage Gateway is a service that enables you to connect an on-premise software appliance to the AWS cloud-based storage and provide you with storage options to connect to Amazon S3 and Amazon Glacier. The service allows you to securely store data in the AWS cloud for scalable and cost-effective storage. The AWS Storage Gateway enables you to essentially scale your storage capacity without having to procure additional on-premise storage hardware.

AWS Storage Gateway is available as a virtual machine appliance that you can install on a Host Server at your data centre.  Support virtualization platforms are VMware ESXi or Microsoft Hyper-V.  You will need to install the gateway and associate it with your AWS account by following an activation process.  You can then use the AWS Management Console to create the storage gateway configuration required for your business.

Configuration Options

  • File Gateway – This is a new addition to the options list on the AWS Storage Gateway Platform. Using the Network File System (NFS) protocol you can use a virtual appliance with a file interface access into Amazon S3. File is available on S3 as NFS Mount Points and this enables you to
    • Store and retrieve files directly using NFS 3 or 4.1
    • Access data in S3
    • Manage the data held in S3 using lifecycle policies, versioning and implement cross region replication
  • Volume Gateway – provide cloud backup storage volume that you can mount using iSCSI.  There two configurations supported:
    • Cached Volumes – This is where you primarily store the bulk of your data in Amazon S3 and retain your frequently accessed data locally as a ‘cache’.  You can also take a point in time snapshots of your Cached Volumes in Amazon S3 which enables you to store versions of your data for a point in time recovery and meet any compliance requirements.
    • Stored Volumes – This is where you primarily store the bulk of your data locally on storage hardware and then create a point in time backups which are asynchronously backed up to Amazon S3. Stored Volumes provide you with an option to configure inexpensive off-site backups that you can recover locally or to an Amazon EC2 instance to enable DR features as part of your overall IT Strategy.  When you deploy a cached or stored volume gateway, you can create iSCSI storage volumes on your gateway
  • Gateway-Virtual Tape Library (VTL) – This option enables you to create a limitless collection of virtual tapes in the AWS Cloud.  Each virtual tape can be stored in the Virtual Tape Library backed by Amazon S3.  In addition, you can also create Virtual Tape Shelf (VTS) which is backed by Amazon Glacier.  The Virtual Tape Library connects to your virtual tapes in the cloud and provides your backup application access to those virtual tapes.
    • Virtual Tapes that are not required immediately and can be archived for infrequent access can be moved from the Virtual Tape Library to the Virtual Tape Shelf which will further reduce your overall costs as these tapes will now be stored in Amazon Glacier.
    • With a Gateway-Virtual Tape Library, you get one media changer and ten tape drives. These tape drives and the media changer are available to your existing client backup applications as iSCSI devices.



When deploying your gateway on-premises, the following are recommended hardware configurations:

  • Four or eight virtual processors assigned to the VM.
  • 16 GB of RAM assigned to the VM
  • 80 GB of disk space for installation of VM image and system data

In addition to the 80GB disk space for the Virtual Machine, the following configuration is required based on your chosen gateway option:

  • For gateway-cached volume configuration, you will need storage for the local cache and an upload buffer.
  • For gateway-stored volume configuration, you will need storage for your entire data set and an upload buffer.
  • For Gateway-VTL configuration, you will need storage for the local cache and an upload buffer.
  • Amazon recommends the following instance types if you plan to host the Gateway on an EC2 Instance. You need an xLarge or above for the following types:
    • General purpose instance family—m3 and m4 instance types
    • Storage-optimized instance family—i2 and d2 instance types
    • Compute-optimized instance family—c3 and c4 instance types
    • Memory-optimized instance family—r3 instance types



  • AWS Storage Gateway encrypts all data-in-transit to and from AWS via SSL
  • Stored Volumes, Cached Volumes, and all virtual tape data stored in AWS using Gateway-VTL is encrypted at rest using Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256


Key Exam Tips

  • With Cached Storage, you are storing your primary data in Amazon S3 and only frequently access data onsite. As such you are dependent on your Internet Connectivity or Direct Connection to access your data sets
  • Each volume gateway can support up to 32 volumes
    • In cached mode, each volume can be up to 32 TB for a maximum of 1 PB of data per gateway
    • In stored mode. each volume can be up to 16 TB for a maximum of 512 TB of data per gateway
  • For Gateway-Virtual Tape Library (VTL), You can create virtual tapes in your Virtual Tape Library using the AWS Management Console.  Each VTL can hold up to 1,500 virtual tapes with a maximum aggregate capacity of 1 PB.  There is no limit to the amount of data you can store on a Virtual Tape Shelf (VTS).
  • Virtual Tape Shelf (VTS) that is backed by Amazon Glacier and you can move tapes from the VTL into VTS.  Retrieving virtual tapes from the VTS tapes about 24 hours to be available and will automatically be loaded into your Virtual Tape Library when ready.
  • For both cached or stored volumes, you can take point-in-time, incremental snapshots.  When taking a new snapshot, only the data that has changed since your last snapshot is stored
  • you can create a snapshot schedule for each of your gateway-cached and gateway-stored volumes
  • When creating a virtual tape, you can select one of the following sizes: 100 GB, 200 GB, 400 GB, 800 GB, 1.5 TB, and 2.5 TB


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