Amazon Adds Elastic Block Storage (EBS)

Amazon Web Services has launched Elastic Block Services (EBS), adding persistent storage capabilities to its cloud computing service, expanding the utility and potential uses of Amazon’s platform.

Prior to Amazon EBS, storage within an Amazon EC2 instance was tied to the instance itself so that when the instance was terminated, the data within the instance was lost, Amazon said. With EBS, users can choose to allocate storage volumes that persist reliably and independently from Amazon EC2 instances. EBS also provides the ability to create point-in-time, consistent snapshots of volumes that are then stored to Amazon S3.

“Persistent block storage has been among the top requests of developers using Amazon EC2, and we’re excited to deliver Amazon Elastic Block Storage designed specifically for our cloud-based, elastic computing environment,” said Peter De Santis, General Manager of Amazon EC2.

“In short it’s a SAN (Storage Area Network) in the cloud,” explains the RightScale blog, which also offers an illustrated explanation of how EBS differs from previous Amazon services, and why it matters. “You can allocate a disk volume of 1GB to 1TB in size from what is now an endless SAN in the cloud and attach it to an instance of yours running in EC2.”

“We see developers using this feature for long term backup purposes, for use in rollback strategies, for (world-wide) volume re-creation purposes,” said Amazon CTO Werner Vogels. “Snapshots also play an important role in building fault-tolerance scenarios when combined with managing applications using Elastic IP addresses and Availability Zones.”

Beta users including Red Hat,, ShareThis and Elastra offered examples of how they are using EBS. “With Amazon EBS, Amazon has turned the industry on its head again, providing unlimited storage potential,” said Paul Fisher, Manager of Technology for “At, we’re leveraging Amazon EC2 to power our embeddable widgets and Wired Product Reviews. Using EC2, we’ve been able to build and deploy applications more quickly and reliably. EBS is the missing link – the last piece in the cloud computing puzzle – that enables start-ups and large corporations alike to conjure the resources they need to build any application possible.”

Amazon Web Services Evangelist Jeff Barr has written two posts on the AWS blog to outline the new features and tools, while Eric Hammond has posted an example of how EBS can be used to run MySQL on EC2.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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