Amazon adds storage snapshot feature to bolster disaster recovery

In what could be a big improvement for business users of Amazon Web Services, Amazon(s amzn) is now allowing them to  move data snapshots between Elastic Block Storage (EBS) regions. The news was announced on an AWS support forum.

awslogojpegIt should come as especially good news for AWS customers shanghaied  by snafus earlier this year at Amazon’s big US-East data center complex. According to Amazon’s post-mortem, the October 22 “event”  started, when “a small number of Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) volumes in one of our five Availability Zones in the US-East Region began seeing degraded performance, and in some cases, became ‘stuck’ (i.e. unable to process further I/O requests).”

To be clear, you could move snapshots between availability zones within a given AWS region. And you could move snapshots between AWS regions before, but it required quite a bit of work and usually the use of a third-party technology like Ylastic. It was, in short, a pain. Now, in theory, if customers spread data volumes across regions will be less susceptible to issues in a single data center geography.

Per the forum post:

“EBS Snapshot Copy enables you to copy your EBS snapshots across AWS regions, thus making it easier for you to leverage multiple AWS regions and accelerate your geographical expansion, data center migration and disaster recovery.

EBS Snapshot Copy is simple to use. In the AWS Management Console, you can select the snapshot to be copied, set the destination region, and start the copy. This feature can also be accessed via an EC2 Command Line Interface or an EC2 API as described in the EBS Snapshot Copy page. The copied snapshot behaves the same as other snapshots in the destination region: it can be used to create new EBS volumes which can then be attached  to an EC2 instance in the destination region.

For AWS geeks, this is indeed big news. Said one: “Up until now, we either had to write code or use a service like Ylastic for $50 a month to move volumes between regions. This will greatly simplify cross-region disaster recovery set up for us.”