Deploying SaaS applications faster at lower cost with Amazon EFS
We’ve heard from independent software vendor (ISV) customers that there are multiple decisions they must consider in deploying their SaaS applications. These considerations range from Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) to impact on operations and agility. In addition, they have mentioned they must also address security, auditability, high availability, and data protection, which can all impact their brand and market perception. For applications that require shared file storage, it can become challenging to find and maintain technical solutions that satisfy these criteria with self-managed storage on-premises and in the cloud.
In this blog, I share some considerations we’ve heard from ISV customers about moving to managed storage and leveraging fully managed, cloud-native Amazon Elastic File System (Amazon EFS).
Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
ISV customers have shared multiple factors that impact their TCO for self-managed storage around provisioning and managing capacity. These factors can include management overhead, underutilized capacity, colocation (facilities, different terms, separate contracts), hardware, and bandwidth. Customers using Amazon EFS can save up to 90% compared to self-managed file storage solutions.* Since Amazon EFS scales elastically, you can grow and shrink your usage automatically as you add and remove files, eliminating the need to provision and manage capacity. In addition, this provides the added benefits of eliminating the management complexity of storage volumes and paying for only what you need. EFS lifecycle management allows you further adjust your costs savings by transparently moving files not accessed every day to the EFS Infrequent Access storage class, which costs only $0.025 /GB-month. (pricing in US East (N. Virginia) Region). Lastly, EFS provides additional cost savings opportunities due to its multi-Availability Zone architecture, which allows customers to select lower-cost EC2 Spot Instances for their compute when they scale out their applications.
We’ve also heard from ISV customers that it’s important to have the business agility to scale to meet customer growth, which can be unpredictable. Factors contributing to this challenge range from ensuring storage reliability for an application to the complexity of moving into new markets. Customers must also consider the time to market associated with the timing, and sourcing risks for colocation, hardware, and bandwidth. In addition, ISVs have shared that self-managed storage solutions can tie up capital and valuable development resources on deploying and maintaining infrastructure.
Amazon EFS provides a fully managed storage solution, which means you don’t have to worry about managing hardware or infrastructure to accommodate capacity. Moreover, you don’t have to worry about optimizing your utilization – it automatically grows and shrinks without any interaction required, and you pay only for the storage you use. Best of all, it frees up your development resources from managing infrastructure to focus on adding value to your applications. Scott Stevenson, Data Engineer at Faculty stated, “The sign of a great technology is that you forget it’s there. Amazon EFS just works. It requires zero maintenance on our end. Instead of trying to build and manage our own storage system, which would be technically challenging, we can rely on Amazon EFS to manage it for us.”
ISV customers, such as LoanLogics, have also shared that they want to move quickly to the cloud and fully managed storage with their applications. In the case of LoanLogics, their application is Linux-based and expects a file system construct to read and write data. Many customers use Amazon EFS as storage for their SaaS environment because they do not need to refactor their application, enabling them to move to the cloud and fully managed quickly. This enables customers to focus on building features that benefit their customers and drive their top line. Other storage options may require refactoring by creating and maintaining specialized code. On the other hand, Amazon EFS eliminates the need to refactor applications that are already built to interface with a POSIX-compliant file system and communicate via NFS.
Terrell Cassada, CIO of LoanLogics, shared how the company gained agility by using Amazon EFS. He said: “We needed to immediately scale our storage capacity to support the onboarding of a new, large customer. AWS file storage services allowed us to scale our infrastructure in a matter of days with no code changes to our applications.”
In addition, many customers need shared file storage for multiple applications to interface with for reading and writing data. In addition, by moving to Amazon EFS, customers can modernize their applications in place using integrations with managed container services such as ECS and EKS. Also, AWS Partner Network (APN) technology partners can leverage SaaS Factory to accelerate and simplify building, migrating, and optimizing SaaS on AWS.
Security and auditability
Multi-tenant security and auditability are foundational requirements for many SaaS applications. Many customers use Amazon EFS because it provides the security and compliance necessary to provide a multi-tenant service with the right controls and auditability. Amazon EFS provides IAM authentication and Access Points, which simplify management and control of access across different clients, which is often needed in a multi-tenant SaaS environment. In addition, Amazon EFS provides encryption of both data in transit and data at rest, which is required to meet compliance for a growing number of applications. Lastly, Amazon EFS supports AWS CloudTrail to enable governance, compliance, operational auditing, and risk auditing of your AWS account. With CloudTrail, you can log, continuously monitor, and retain account activity related to actions across your AWS infrastructure.
Many ISVs have talked to us about business-critical applications, which require a robust high availability environment to meet the needs of users. They have stated that a highly available storage target is crucial for applications that require access to data anytime. Amazon EFS provides high availability and durability by storing data within and across multiple Availability Zones (AZ). Data is available to users and applications in any of the Availability Zones as soon as the write is committed, which is critical for any type of clustered application. The Availability Zones are fully isolated partitions with their own power infrastructure and are physically separated by a meaningful distance. That distance is many kilometers from any other zone, although all zones are within 100 km (60 miles of each other). All Availability Zones are also interconnected with high-bandwidth, low-latency networking, over fully redundant, dedicated metro fiber – providing high-throughput, low-latency networking between zones.
We’ve also heard that it’s important to protect data to meet certain regulatory and compliance requirements. As part of Amazon EFS’s architecture of storing across multiple zones, data is protected from issues that can impact single data centers. Every file system object (that is, directory, file, and link) is redundantly stored across multiple Availability Zones providing 99.999999999% data durability. In addition, EFS supports AWS Backup, which provides a fully managed, policy-based backup solution to simplify your backup management, and supports cross-Region backup copies to address data protection and compliance requirements.
In summary, Amazon EFS provides an effective storage solution to deploy SaaS applications quickly at a lower TCO compared to self-managed file storage solutions. EFS offers multiple benefits to improve business agility and operational simplicity, and the service meets security compliance and auditability with high availability and data protection for users. Best of all, the TCO of EFS that can save up to 90% compared to self-managed file storage solutions,* without having to provision and manage infrastructure. When combined with Amazon EC2, EFS provides a simple integrated compute and storage solution for moving SaaS applications to the cloud. In addition to simplifying moving to the cloud and a fully managed solution, customers can modernize their applications in place using integrations with managed container services such as Amazon ECS and Amazon EKS. Leave a comment if you have any questions or would like to share how you have used Amazon EFS, whether it be for SaaS applications or otherwise!
* US East (Virginia) with a 85% storage utilization rate for the DIY solutions