VoipNow 3 – Amazon S3 Storage

Another interesting feature in VoipNow 3 is related to storage.

The industry has known many changes over the past years, but storage has remained a hot topic to the majority of Service Providers who consider scaling (read growing) their businesses.

Never Enough

Irrespective of how much storage space was available, sooner or later one would find herself / himself going out of space. This can apply to a personal computer, but also to the service provider’s environment when dealing with customer information.

Traditionally, many service providers limited the amount of storage space their customers could use. Sometimes, the limits were crazy low (in the range of tens of megabytes). VoipNow offered quota support starting with the very first release.

Next, the cloud came up and many cloud providers started to offer many gigabytes for free. It made sense for them because the customer information was valuable.

Storage Can Be Complicated

Smaller service providers realized that the customer information was a lock-in factor, because very few people were willing to migrate tens of gigabytes. Therefore, they started to raise limits. They discovered, however, that this came with a price. Even if magnetic hard drives were very affordable, they were very limited on the number of concurrent access requests. Recent developments such as SSD raised the bar, but also increased the price per gigabyte.

Additionally, there is the data protection issue. Much information means more responsability. A failure on a 1GB hard drive slowed down the entire RAID array during a multi, multi hours rebuild process. Moreover, traditional RAID levels have a pretty high risk of total information loss when dealing with a large enough number of disks.

We do not want to scare anyone – technical solutions exist to mitigate everything, but they require knowledge and resources. And surely there are better ways to spend these resources!

VoipNow Has Always Been Gentle to Storage

In VoipNow there are mainly three storage space consumers: voicemail received by customers, fax data received and recorded calls. It is recorded calls that take the most storage space, as many companies record their calls and want to keep files for many months.

Fortunately, the I/O performance is not affected, because in VoipNow recordings are not often accessed.

What’s the Solution?

We felt that we can improve the storage model in a pretty easy way. As always, the cloud was the solution. We basically added Amazon S3 as another option for storing the aforementioned resources. By default, VoipNow will continue to store items in the POSIX filesystem, but you can change to Amazon S3 if you wish.

There are multiple advantages in using Amazon S3:

  • You pay only for what is used, you do not have to provision expensive storage layers wondering how much capacity is needed.
  • Information is safe. Amazon S3 is designed to offer 99.999999999% durability, a percentage that cannot be reached even with the most expensive storage hardware.
  • Data transfers happen between Amazon S3 and customer directly, so there are no bandwidth costs either.
  • When deploying VoipNow in a multi node infrastructure, you don’t have to use any complicated shared storage.

Amazon Again! Why?

Frankly, it’s the protocol more than Amazon S3 as a service. You can use Amazon S3 service – simply provision a bucket and then set it up in VoipNow. But at the same time you can use any other service that provides an Amazon S3 interface. Or, even more, you can provision a storage infrastructure that uses the S3 protocol.

Truth be told, Amazon S3 has become almost a standard. Many companies tried to produce alternatives, but in the end they decided to embrace S3. Of course, there are minor differences between these S3 implementations, but we use very basic functions in VoipNow.

We hope that you will like the new functionality.


As for the subject of the next article – it’s going to be a surprise 😉

1 Comment

You can post comments in this post.

  • I have a question, you say “Data transfers happen between Amazon S3 and customer directly, so there are no bandwidth costs either.” But… wouldn’t there still be outgoing transfer bandwidth when the recordings are being sent to amazon?

    John 12 years ago Reply

Post A Reply