What Is AWS Storage Gateway? [Benefits, Types & Pricing]

In this AWS article, we are going to talk about everything about AWS Storage Gateway and how it’s working.

Cloud migration has become increasingly popular in the modern business landscape. Yet, many organizations still rely on legacy on-premise data centers.

Companies that continue to rely on legacy on-premise data centers require a hybrid cloud solution to utilize AWS. One of the most valuable AWS services that can deliver immense value to hybrid clouds is AWS Storage Gateway. Let’s look at:

  • What is AWS Storage Gateway?
  • Types of AWS Storage Gateway
  • Benefits of AWS Storage Gateway
  • Pricing of AWS Storage Gateway
  • AWS Storage Gateway VS S3
  • AWS Datasync VS AWS Storage Gateway

What Is AWS Storage Gateway?

AWS Storage Gateway serves as a cloud storage service that provides organizations with on-premises access to limitless cloud storage.

It’s an AWS tool that will connect their on-premises software resources with AWS public cloud storage. The solution will securely transfer application cloud-based storage and on-premises software to help you reduce costs and improve application scalability.

You can download AWS Storage Gateway as a virtual machine image that’s installed in a data center. An administrator will associate the gateway with your AWS account and subsequently interact with the service through AWS Management Console.

AWS Storage Gateway comes up with some standard protocols like NFS, iSCSI, and SMB that enable you to leverage AWS storage without having to rewrite your existing applications.

When storing data in a durable and secure manner in AWS Cloud, it automatically caches the data often retrieved on-premises to provide low latency performance. By compressing data and sending only changed data, Storage Gateway works to optimize data transfer to the AWS.

AWS Storage Gateway supports gateway-stored volumes, gateway-cached volumes, and gateway-virtual tape library (VTL).

AWS Storage gateway Architecture

How does Storage Gateway work?

Storage Gateway is a form of hybrid architecture using on-premises and cloud where we have the option of keeping our data and files in an S3 bucket safe using this facility. Let’s have a look at the architecture of the storage gateway:

AWS Storage Gateway
AWS Storage Gateway

Since you now understand what AWS Storage Gateway is, let’s move on to its three different types:

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Types of AWS Storage Gateway

AWS Storage Gateway is of three types:

1. File Gateway

A File Gateway makes file storage in Amazon S3 simple, offers a low-cost alternative to on-premises storage, and can be integrated into existing applications via industry-standard file system protocols. With this category, there exist two classifications:

AWS File Gateway
AWS File Gateway

a. Amazon S3 File Gateway

It allows you to save and access objects in Amazon S3 with the help of file protocols like Server Message Block (SMB) and Network File System (NFS). Objects that have been written using the S3 File Gateway can be accessed in S3 directly.

B. Amazon FSx File Gateway

It allows you to save and access objects in Amazon FSx for the Windows File Server through SMB protocol. Files that have been written using the Amazon FSx File Gateway can be accessed in Amazon FSx directly for Windows File shares.

2. Volume Gateway

The Volume Gateway enables your on-premises applications and storage server to connect with AWS block storage in the cloud using the iSCSI protocol.

File gateway uses NFS and SMB protocols basically used for sharing files. The iSCSI protocol is used by Volume Gateway at the block level. Within Volume Gateway, two categories exist that include cached vs storage.

A. Stored Volumes

Take the example of an iPad that backs up everything into the cloud. For example, data in an iPad is backed in iCloud. Yet, instead of using iCloud for daily use, iPad users will find downloaded music, eBooks, etc. right on their iPad memory instead of the cloud.

AWS Storage Volume Gateway
AWS Storage Volume Gateway

However, when they need to change their phone, all they need to do is simply login to their iCloud account on the new iPhone, and all their data, including documents, images, contacts, etc. will be retrieved and downloaded to their new phone.

That’s exactly how Storage Volumes work. Data is stored on-premises and you can access it from there for everyday use, while the data that goes into the AWS cloud is meant for backup.

Suppose you need low-latency access to your complete dataset. First, you have to set up and prep your gateway on-premises so that you have the storage capacity for keeping the data locally, and then asynchronously save a snapshot of this data to S3.

The configuration offers inexpensive and durable offsite backups that can be recovered to AWS EC2 or your local data center. For instance, you can recover the backups to EC2 if you require replacement capacity for disaster recovery.

B. Cached Volumes

Cached Volumes, on the other hand, work like a Chromebook, which is nothing but a laptop containing limited local storage. Designed for use with cloud-based services such as Google Docs, Gmail, and YouTube, a Chromebook uses Android apps instead of downloading software.

AWS Cached Volume Gateway
AWS Cached Volume Gateway

Likewise, with Cached Volumes, the majority of the data is stored in AWS S3. The only data that are most often used is cached or stored on-premises. Just as the Chromebook won’t require a lot of local storage, Cached Volumes doesn’t need too much on-premises storage.

Cached Volumes not only prove highly cost-effective for primary storage but also preclude the need to scale your storage on-premises while letting you retain low-latency access to frequently accessed data.

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3. Tape Gateway

The Tape Gateway offers virtual tape storage backed by the cloud and is deployed as a VM running on KVM, Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor, or VMware ESXi in an on-premises environment. It provides backup applications with an iSCSI virtual tape library (VTL) interface, consisting of a virtual media changer, virtual tapes, and virtual tape drives.

Stored in Amazon S3, virtual tapes can be archived in Amazon S3 Glacier Deep Archive or Amazon S3 Glacier. Think of it as storing the elements of physical backup tapes using data backed up into either Glacier Deep Archive or SE Glacier.

If you want to use Tape Gateway with a Snowball Edge Storage Optimized device, the device would provide you with 80 terabytes of object storage or block storage and can migrate this amount of tape data to S3 Glacier Deep Archive or S3 Glacier Flexible Retrieval.

Pricing of AWS Storage Gateway

AWS adapts the pay-as-you-go pricing model for its cloud services, and AWS Storage Gateway is no exception. Pricing typically depends on the AWS Region and the type of storage, that is, EBS or Amazon S3.

If your data is stored in Amazon S3, you’ll be charged based on the number of requests and S3 Storage Class.

The exact price will be determined per GB per month. If the data is saved in EBS volumes, your bill depends on the snapshots you take.

Overall, you’re charged Amazon Storage Gateway usage, that is, per gateway per month. To check out the exact pricing for AWS Storage Gateway, visit the AWS website.

Pros of AWS Storage Gateway

Some of the benefits of AWS Storage Gateway include:

scalable & cost-effective

AWS Storage Gateway promises enhanced scalability, cost-effectiveness, and security to users who want to store data in the cloud.    

Very Simple and User-Friendly

It supports both VMware EXI and Microsoft Hyper V.    

The virtual appliance of Storage Gateway can be downloaded as a virtual machine (VM) image, which can be installed by users over a host present in the data center.    

It optimizes the transfer of data to AWS storage through intelligence buffering, bandwidth management, and upload management to address network variations.    

It’s an easy-to-deploy gateway that can be installed as a hardware appliance in your remote offices or data center or can use your existing hypervisor investments and virtual infrastructure.

AWS Storage Gateway VS S3

Let’s check out the difference between these two services:

S3Storage Gateway
File SystemGateway to the file system
Network diskInterface between on-premises server and S3 to read or write data

AWS Datasync VS AWS Storage Gateway

Let’s have a look at the two services and find out how they are different:

FeaturesStorage GatewayDatasync
DefinitionCloud Service that virtually gives on-premises servers to have virtually unlimited storage over the cloud.Online data transfer service which helps in automating and accelerating the process of large data up and down to AWS Storage.
Working ProcessUse Amazon provided Storage Gateway ApplianceUses a VM that acts as an agent
Supported StorageS3, S3 Glacier, S3 Glacier Deep ArchiveSync data from on-premises to S3, EFS, etc.
Supported ProtocolSMB, NFS, and iSCSIS3 API, SMB, and NFS

AWS storage gateway cached vs stored

Storage Gateway CachedStorage Gateway Stored
Storage gateway in cache mode stores all the data in S3 but caches the frequently accessed data in the local file system.Storage gateway In storage mode the data is synced to S3, as well as a copy of the data is stored locally as well for quick access.

AWS Storage Gateway vs snowball edge

Storage GatewaySnowball
Option to choose when the data is ever changing in on-premises server and has to be backup in the cloud.Best choice to move large amount of data quickly from your Data Center to Cloud
Here the data is synched continuously as and when it changed through a gateway between the data center and the AWS cloud.The customer orders a Snowball and copies the data then ships to the Amazon office to copy the data to their cloud account
Multiple gateways like file, volume, and tape gateway with different usages as per the requirementGets a device over mail and has just one device type for all

AWS Storage Gateway FAQs

Q: What Is AWS Storage Gateway Primarily Used For?

Since AWS Storage Gateway provides on-premises access to virtually unlimited cloud storage, most customers use the solution to simplify their storage management and minimize costs for key hybrid cloud storage use cases that include:

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1) Moving backups and archives to the cloud.
2) Minimizing on-premises storage using file shares backed by the cloud.    
3) Providing on-premises applications access to the data stored in AWS at low latency.    
4) Providing data lake access to post- and pre-processing workflows.

Q: Which Type Of Storage Gateway Is Used To Frequently Access Data?

You may use Amazon S3 File Gateway to access S3 objects as files with the help of standard filesystem operations. In addition, Amazon S3 File Gateway offers efficient data transfer and low latency local access.

Q: Where Can A Storage Gateway Appliance Be Deployed?

On-premises, you may deploy Storage Gateway as a hardware appliance or deploy a virtual machine comprising of the Storage Gateway software on Linux KVM, VMware ESXi, or Microsoft Hyper-V.

Alternatively, you may deploy the Storage Gateway as an AMI in Amazon EC2 or as a VM in VMware Cloud on AWS.

Q: Which AWS Storage Gateway Types Can I Manage Using AWS Backup?

Using AWS Backup, the policies for retention and backup can be managed for Volume Gateway’s stored and cached volume modes.

Q: AWS Storage Gateway Login Procedure?

There is no login procedure for Storage Gateway, but it’s an appliance provided by AWS which sits between on-premises and AWS S3.

Q: AWS storage gateway documentation

For more details on Storage Gateway refer to the documentation here.

Q: AWS storage gateway lab

For Storage gateway Lab, you can refer to any of the videos available over youtube.

Q: AWS storage gateway service

This service provides the organization with unlimited storage space without actually buying any hardware but by using the unlimited storage of AWS S3.

Q: What is the main use case of AWS Storage Gateway?

The main use of a storage gateway is to give unlimited storage space to your on-premises servers without provisioning and hardware but rather using the unlimited storage provided by AWS.

Q: What is the AWS gateway load balancer?

This helps in managing, deploying, and scaling the virtual appliances from a third party.
Provides flexibility of scaling up and down while distributing traffic with multiple appliances that are virtual.

Q: AWS storage gateway disk size?

It provides storage for all the files based on the size provisioned. These are the spaces available on-premises so it entirely depends on the customer’s will.

Have a look at the comparisons below with AWS.


To sum it up, AWS Storage Gateway is a very versatile product that has three different types to cover different use cases.

From simple disaster recovery and backups to utilizing cloud resources for multiple workloads or full data migrations, you can use it for a variety of purposes.

Hence, if your company is using both AWS and an on-premise data center, and is looking for a hybrid cloud solution, AWS Storage Gateway is a perfect solution for you!

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