Amazon EFS file systems are distributed across an unconstrained number of storage servers, enabling file systems to grow elastically to petabyte-scale and allowing massively parallel access from Amazon EC2 instances to your data. Amazon EFS’s distributed design avoids the bottlenecks and constraints inherent to traditional file servers.

This distributed data storage design means that multi-threaded applications and applications that concurrently access data from multiple Amazon EC2 instances can drive substantial levels of aggregate throughput and IOPS. Big Data and analytics workloads, media processing workflows, content management and web serving, database backups, enterprise applications, home directories, software developer tools, and container storage are examples of typical use cases for Amazon EFS.

In addition, Amazon EFS data is distributed across multiple Availability Zones, providing a high level of durability and availability.

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The table below compares high-level performance and storage characteristics for Amazon’s file and block cloud storage offerings.

    Amazon EFS Amazon EBS PIOPS
Performance Per-operation latency Low, consistent Lowest, consistent
Throughput scale
Multiple GBs per second Single GB per second
Characteristics   Data
Stored redundantly across multiple AZs Stored redundantly in a single AZ
Access 1 to 1000s of EC2 instances, from multiple AZs, concurrently Single EC2 instance in a single AZ
Use Cases Big Data and analytics, media processing workflows, content management, web serving, home directories
Boot volumes, transactional and NoSQL databases, data warehousing & ETL

Amazon EFS’s distributed nature enables high levels of availability, durability, and scalability. This distributed architecture results in a small latency overhead for each file operation. Due to this per-operation latency, overall throughput generally increases as the average I/O size increases, since the overhead is amortized over a larger amount of data. Amazon EFS's support for highly parallelized workloads (i.e. with concurrent operations from multiple threads and multiple EC2 instances) enables high levels of aggregate throughput and IOPS.

Amazon EFS presents a standard file system interface that support full file system access semantics. Using NFSv4.1, you can mount your Amazon EFS file system on any Amazon EC2 Linux-based instance. Once mounted, you can work with the files and directories just like you would with a local file system. 

Amazon EFS does all the heavy lifting. Within minutes of starting the Creation File System Wizard on the Amazon EFS Console, you will be ready to mount your new file system and to start adding data. You won’t need to decide on how much capacity you need or worry about any complicated configurations.

Amazon EFS is perfect when you need to share storage between multiple EC2 instances. With support for thousands of connections to the shared file system, Amazon EFS provides high performance secure access for your workflows that require the ability to consistently share data.

Amazon EFS is designed to be highly available and highly durable. Amazon EFS file systems store data and metadata across multiple Availability Zones in a region to prevent the loss of data from the failure of any single component.

Amazon EFS is designed to provide the throughput, IOPS, and low latency needed for a broad range of workloads. With Amazon EFS, throughput and IOPS scale as a file system grows, and file operations are delivered with consistent, low latencies. For more information, see Amazon EFS Performance

Amazon EFS is designed to be highly scalable both in storage capacity and throughput performance. It can grow to petabyte scale and allows massively parallel access from Amazon EC2 instances to your data. 

With Amazon EFS, storage capacity is elastic, growing and shrinking automatically as you add and remove files, so your applications have the storage they need, when they need it. Since capacity is elastic, there is no provisioning necessary and you will only be billed for the capacity used. 

Amazon EFS seamlessly offers encryption of EFS file systems. Data is transparently encrypted while being written, and transparently decrypted while being read, so you don’t have to modify your applications. Encryption keys are managed by the AWS Key Management Service (KMS), eliminating the need to build and maintain a secure key management infrastructure. Refer to the user documentation and whitepaper for more information about encrypting file system data.

Amazon EFS is a fully managed service providing shared access to files and does not require you to setup or manage any additional hardware or third-party software. Amazon EFS delivers all this with no complicated administration, configurations or ongoing maintenance. 

You can choose from multiple options to copy existing data into Amazon EFS. AWS Direct Connect  provides a high bandwidth and lower latency dedicated network connection over which you can mount your EFS file systems. Once mounted you can use EFS File Sync or standard Linux tools to copy files. 

EFS File Sync provides a fast and simple way to securely sync existing file systems into Amazon EFS using your existing network or with AWS Direct Connect. EFS File Sync can also be used to sync data between existing in-cloud file systems and Amazon EFS, providing simple setup and management of the data transfer.

Amazon EFS provides the scalability, elasticity, availability, and durability to be the file store for enterprise applications and for applications delivered as a service. Its standard file system interface and file system semantics make it easy to migrate enterprise applications to the AWS cloud or to build new ones. 

Amazon EFS provides the scale and performance required for Big Data applications that require high throughput to compute nodes coupled with read-after-write consistency and low-latency file operations. Many analytics workloads interact with data via a file interface, rely on file semantics such as file locks, and require the ability to write to portions of a file. Amazon EFS supports the needed file systems semantics and can scale capacity as well performance, it is ideal for delivering a file sharing solution that is easy to integrate into existing big data workflows.

Media workflows like video editing, studio production, broadcast processing, sound design and rendering often depend on shared storage to manipulate large files. Strong data consistency model with high throughput and shared file access can cut the time it takes to perform these jobs and consolidate multiple local file repositories into a single location for all users.

Amazon EFS can provide storage for organizations that have many users that need to access and share common data sets. An administrator can use Amazon EFS to create a file system accessible to individuals across an organization and establish permissions for users and groups at the file or directory level.

Amazon EFS can be used as a durable, high throughput file system for content management systems and web servign applications that store and serve information for a range of applications like web sites, online publications, and archives. Typically, there are multiple web servers delivering a web site’s content, with each web server needing access to the same set of files. Since Amazon EFS adheres to the expected file system semantics, file naming conventions, and permissions that web developers are accustomed to, it can easily integrate with web applications and can be used for a range of applications like web sites, online publications, and archives.

Amazon EFS presents a standard filesystem that can be easily mounted from database servers, they can be an ideal platform to create portable database backups using native application tools or enterprise backup applications. Many businesses want to take advantage of the flexibility of storing database backups in the cloud either for temporary protection during updates or for development and test. 

Amazon EFS enables your organization to be more agile and responsive to customer needs. Provision, duplicate, scale, or archive your development, test and production environments with a few clicks. With the need to easily share code and other files in an organized way, utilizing shared cloud file storage provides an organized and secure repository that is easily accessible within their cloud development environments. Amazon EFS delivers a scalable and highly available solution that is ideal for testing and development workloads.

Containers are ideal for building microservices because they’re quick to provision, easily portable, and provide process isolation. Containers that need access to the original data each time it starts require a shared file system that it can connect to regardless of which instance they’re running on. Amazon EFS can provide persistent shared access to data for container storage.