Amazon S3 is a secure, durable and highly scalable object based storage which is accessible via simple web service interface. S3 is independent of a server unlike the traditional SAN and NAS based storage.

With Amazon S3, data is not managed as blocks or files using SCSI, CIFS or NFS protocols however data is managed as Objects using API built on standard HTTP verbs. Amazon S3 API is simple with handful of operations which include, Create/Delete a Bucket, Write an Object, Read an object and Delete an Object Each.

Amazon S3 object contains both data and metadata, Objects (files) reside in container (web folder) called buckets, and each object is identified by a unique user specified key (filename). Buckets are simple flat folder with no file system hierarchy which means we can have multiple buckets but can’t have sub bucket within a bucket, when creating buckets the names can contain upto 63 lower case letters and can hold an unlimited number of objects.

amazon-s3

Amazon S3 provides durability by automatically storing data redundantly on multiple devices in multiple facilities within a region and is designed to sustain the concurrent loss of data in two facilities without any loss of user data, however it is still a best practice to protect against user-level accidental deletion or overwriting of user data by using features like Versioning (helps protect our data against accidental or malicious deletion by keeping multiple versions of each object in the bucket), MFA delete (add another layer of protection on top of bucket versioning, in addition to our normal security credentials, MFA delete requires an authentication code which is a temporary one time password generated by a hardware or virtual Multi Factor Authentication Device and Cross-Region Replication which allows us to replicate all new objects in the source bucket in one AWS region to a target bucket in another region.

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Amazon S3 is secured by default, which means only the user who created it has the access, in order to further give controlled access to others, we can make use of coarse-grained controls (ACL) which are more of legacy access control mechanism with only a handful use-cases including like enabling bucket logging and for making a bucket that host a static website and fine-grained access controls (Bucket policies and IAM policies).

There are various storage classes offered by Amazon S3 which are suitable for various use cases for example Amazon S3 Standard offers High Durability, high availability, low latency and high performance object storage for general purpose use and is best suited for short-term and long-term storage of frequently accessed data. Next available option on the list is Amazon S3 Standard – Infrequent access offers the same durability, low latency and High throughput as Amazon S3 Standard but is designed for long lived, less frequently accessed data. Amazon S3 Reduced Redundancy Storage (RRS) offers lower durability as compared to Standard and Standard-IA with a reduced cost and is suitable for derived data that can be easily reproduced.

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Understanding Amazon S3
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