Home Amazon Simple Storage Service – Not So Simple Anymore

Amazon Simple Storage Service – Not So Simple Anymore

Today Amazon Web Services announced the availability of a new feature of their

Simple Storage Service


Object Versioning now joins the ever growing list of features supported by S3. This proves once again that Amazon Web Services are listening to their customers and putting plenty of distance between them and their competition.

They Grow Up So Fast

In March 2006 Amazon publicly launched S3, the first of their web services. In doing so, they also unveiled their new Web Services division of their business.

The service will soon celebrate its 4th birthday; to date, Amazon S3 holds over 102 billion objects and at peak times, handles over 100,000 requests/second. That is approximately 17 objects for each person on the planet! By anyone’s standard, the service is successful.

Amazon S3 provides storage buckets that allow users to PUT files in and then GET them back later. Simple right?

Taking things beyond the simple GET and PUT might have a lot to do with S3’s success. Amazon has added many features making S3 suitable for many different use cases.

Pick and Mix Features

The different S3 features can be switched on and off for individual buckets allowing users to pick different features depending on what they want to do.

For example:

Backups – buckets can be private and because they are securely hosted by Amazon far away in the cloud, they are an ideal “other place” to store a copy of important files.

File Sharing – access controls can be used to white-list other users to have access to your buckets.

Content Distribution – buckets can be made publically available via HTTP. This makes it perfect for websites to offload the serving of static content such as images. The CloudFront feature takes this one step further and makes your content available to users via their nearest Amazon Internet presence; so a user in Japan or Europe would not have to download your content from servers in the USA.

Versioning (today’s announced feature) provides primitive version control of objects. When an existing file is uploaded to S3 it will create a new revision instead of overwriting the original. If you have ever accidentally deleted your backups you will appreciate the benefits of this feature! This simplifies the use of S3 for backups where you want to avoid overwriting a good backup with a corrupt one.

Many cloud storage companies support versioning (like DropBox and GitHub) and S3’s support should not be seen as a threat. It’s a required part of a mature storage offering, so it makes a lot of sense that S3 should support this too. Not in a “me too” kind of way, it genuinely plugs a gap in the Amazon Web Services storage offering and will undoubtedly be very useful for its users.

Is Time to Drop the “Simple”?

Unlike the beta label that some web services wear with pride, the “Simple” in S3 is telling of its humble beginnings. The simple days of just GET/PUT are definitely gone. Given the fun packed feature list, it must be time to drop the ‘simple.’ Or should S3 be re-branded altogether?

Let’s crowdsource some suggestions:

  • Amazon Fully-Featured Storage Service (F2S2)
  • Amazon Storage Service Now All Grown Up (S2NAGU)

Can you think of any better ones?

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