Amazon EBS io2 Block Express volumes now generally available

io2 volumes running on next-generation Block Express architecture deliver the first storage area network (SAN) built for the cloud

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced the general availability of Amazon EBS io2 Block Express volumes, delivering SAN capabilities in the cloud for the first time.

EBS Block Express is a next-generation storage server architecture that provides the highest block storage performance without the cost or hassle of having to procure, scale, and maintain expensive on-premises SANs.

With io2 volumes running on Block Express, customers can achieve sub-millisecond latency and provision a single io2 volume with up to 256,000 IOPS, 4,000 MB/second throughput, and 64 TB of capacity—a 4x increase in performance, throughput, and capacity for existing io2 volumes. io2 Block Express volumes are ideal for the largest, most I/O-intensive, mission-critical deployments of Oracle databases, SAP HANA, Microsoft SQL Server, InterSystems database, and SAS Analytics.

There are no upfront commitments or fees to use io2 Block Express volumes, and customers pay only for the storage capacity used.

Customers choose io2 volumes (the latest generation of provisioned IOPS volumes) to run their critical, performance-intensive applications because io2 volumes are designed for 99.999% (five 9s) durability and 4x more IOPS than general purpose EBS volumes. Some applications require even higher IOPS, throughput, and capacity with lower latency than offered by a single io2 volume.

To address the needed performance, customers often stripe multiple io2 volumes together, but the most demanding applications require more io2 volumes to be striped together than customers want to manage. For these highly demanding applications, many customers have historically used on-premises SANs (a set of disks accessed over the local network).

However, SANs have numerous drawbacks. They are expensive due to high upfront acquisition costs, require complex forecasting to ensure sufficient capacity, are complicated and hard to manage, and consume valuable data centre space and networking capacity. When a customer exceeds the capacity of a SAN, they have to buy another entire SAN, which requires even more upfront cost and forces customers to pay for unused capacity. Customers want the power of a SAN in the cloud, which hasn’t existed—until now.

io2 Block Express volumes reinvent block storage and give customers the performance they expect from a SAN, but with the elasticity of AWS, unlimited scale, and flexibility of pay-as-you-go pricing—at as low as half the cost of a typical SAN.

io2 Block Express volumes are designed for applications that benefit from high-volume IOPS, high throughput, high durability, high storage capacity, and low latency. For example, using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) R5b instances and io2 Block Express volumes, SQL Server runs up to 3x faster on AWS than the next fastest cloud provider.

Customers can also stripe multiple io2 Block Express volumes together to get even better performance than a single volume can provide. Block Express helps io2 volumes achieve this performance by completely reinventing the underlying EBS hardware, software, and networking stacks.

By decoupling the compute from the storage at the hardware layer and rewriting the software to take advantage of this decoupling, Block Express enables new levels of performance and reduces time to innovation. By also rewriting the networking stack to take advantage of the high-performance Scalable Reliable Datagrams (SRD) networking protocol, Block Express dramatically reduces latency.

io2 Block Express volumes are available at the same price as io2 volumes and with no upfront commitments to use the volumes. These improvements allow customers to provision and scale capacity without the high upfront costs and idle capacity that is typical of a SAN.

“For decades, customers who wanted to get the most performance for their throughput-intensive workloads were forced to use an on-premises SAN, which is not only expensive, but also complicated and resource intensive to manage,” said Mai-Lan Tomsen Bukovec, Vice President, Storage, at AWS.

“io2 Block Express volumes are a game changer. Customers can scale their capacity by petabytes in minutes at as low as half the cost of a typical SAN, and the storage is managed by AWS with the same or better performance of many leading SAN storage products, and without the hassle of procuring, scaling, and maintaining an on-premises SAN.”

EBS io2 Block Express volumes are generally available today with many important SAN features, including Multi-Attach and Elastic Volumes. In the coming months, support for additional SAN features, including Fast Snapshot Restore, will be added. io2 Block Express volumes are available with R5b instances, the Amazon EC2 instance with the highest EBS bandwidth, in all regions where AWS offers R5b instances today: US East (Ohio), US East (N. Virginia), US West (Oregon), Asia Pacific (Singapore), Asia Pacific (Tokyo), and Europe (Frankfurt). In the coming months, support for additional EC2 instance types and regions will be added.

To get started with io2 Block Express volumes, visit here.

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