I am excited to announce you can now create Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) snapshots from any block storage data, such as on-premises volumes, volumes from another cloud provider, existing block data stored on Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), or even your own laptop 🙂

AWS customers using the cloud for disaster recovery of on-premises infrastructure all have the same question: how can I transfer my on-premises volume data to the cloud efficiently and at low cost? You usually create temporary Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances, attach Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) volumes, transfer the data at block level from on-premises to these new Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) volumes, take a snapshot of every EBS volumes created and tear-down the temporary infrastructure. Some of you choose to use CloudEndure to simplify this process. Or maybe you just gave up and did not copy your on-premises volumes to the cloud because of the complexity.

To simplify this, we are announcing today 3 new APIs that are part of EBS direct API, a new set of APIs we announced at re:Invent 2019. We initially launched a read and diff APIs. We extend it today with write capabilities. These 3 new APIs allow to create Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) snapshots from your on-premises volumes, or any block storage data that you want to be able to store and recover in AWS.

With the addition of write capability in EBS direct API, you can now create new snapshots from your on-premises volumes, or create incremental snapshots, and delete them. Once a snapshot is created, it has all the benefits of snapshots created from Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) volumes. You can copy them, share them between AWS Accounts, keep them available for a Fast Snapshot Restore, or create Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) volumes from them.

Having Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) snapshots created from any volumes, without the need to spin up Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances and Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) volumes, allows you to simplify and to lower the cost of the creation and management of your disaster recovery copy in the cloud.

Let’s have a closer look at the API
You first call StartSnapshot to create a new snapshot. When the snapshot is incremental, you pass the ID of the parent snapshot. You can also pass additional tags to apply to the snapshot, or encrypt these snapshots and manage the key, just like usual. If you choose to encrypt snapshots, be sure to check our technical documentation to understand the nuances and options.

Then, for each block of data, you call PutSnapshotBlock. This API has 6 mandatory parameters: snapshot-id, block-index, block-data, block-length, checksum, and checksum-algorithm. The API supports block lengths of 512 KB. You can send your blocks in any order, and in parallel, block-index keeps the order correct.

After you send all the blocks, you call CompleteSnapshot with changed-blocks-count parameter having the number of blocks you sent.

Let’s put all these together
Here is the pseudo code you must write to create a snapshot.

AmazonEBS amazonEBS = AmazonEBSClientBuilder.standard() .withEndpointConfiguration(new AwsClientBuilder.EndpointConfiguration(endpointName, awsRegion)) .withCredentials(credentialsProvider) .build(); response = amazonEBS.startSnapshot(startSnapshotRequest)
snapshotId = response.getSnapshotId(); for each (block in changeset) { putResponse = amazonEBS.putSnapshotBlock(putSnapshotBlockRequest);

As usual, when using this code, you must have appropriate IAM policies allowing to call the new API. For example:

"Version": "2012-10-17",
"Statement": [{
"Effect": "Allow",
"Action": [
"Resource": "arn:aws:ec2:<Region>::snapshot/*" }]

Also include some KMS related permissions when creating encrypted snapshots.

In addition of the storage cost for snapshots, there is a charge per API call when you call PutSnapshotBlock.

These new snapshot APIs are available in the following AWS Regions: US East (Ohio), US East (N. Virginia), US West (N. California), US West (Oregon), Asia Pacific (Hong Kong), Asia Pacific (Mumbai), Asia Pacific (Seoul), Asia Pacific (Singapore), Asia Pacific (Sydney), Asia Pacific (Tokyo), Canada (Central), China (Beijing), China (Ningxia), Europe (Frankfurt), Europe (Ireland), Europe (London), Europe (Paris), Europe (Stockholm), Middle East (Bahrain), and South America (São Paulo).

You can start to use them today.

— seb

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