Availability and durability: Single-AZ and Multi-AZ file systems - Amazon FSx for Windows File Server

Availability and durability: Single-AZ and Multi-AZ file systems

Amazon FSx for Windows File Server offers two file system deployment types: Single-AZ and Multi-AZ.

Single-AZ file systems are composed of a single Windows file server instance and a set of storage volumes within a single Availability Zone (AZ). With Single-AZ file systems, data is automatically replicated to protect it from the failure of a single component in most cases. Amazon FSx continuously monitors for hardware failures, and automatically recovers from failure events by replacing the failed infrastructure component. Single-AZ file systems are offline, typically for less than 20 minutes, during these failure recovery events and during planned file system maintenance within the maintenance window that you configure for your file system. With Single-AZ file systems, file system failure may be unrecoverable in rare cases, such as due to multiple component failures or due to a non-graceful failure of the single file server that leaves the file system in an inconsistent state, in which case you can recover your file system from the most recent backup.

Multi-AZ file systems are composed of a high-availability cluster of Windows file servers spread across two AZs (a preferred AZ and a standby AZ), leveraging Windows Server Failover Clustering (WSFC) technology and a set of storage volumes on each of the two AZs. Data is replicated synchronously within each individual AZ and between the two AZs. Relative to Single-AZ deployment, Multi-AZ deployments provide enhanced durability by further replicating data across AZs, and enhanced availability during planned system maintenance and unplanned service disruption by failing over automatically to the standby AZ. This allows you to continue accessing your data, and helps to protect your data against instance failure and AZ disruption.

Choosing Single-AZ or Multi-AZ file system deployment

We recommend using Multi-AZ file systems for most production workloads given the high availability and durability model it provides. Single-AZ deployment is designed as a cost-efficient solution for test and development workloads, certain production workloads that have replication built into the application layer and do not require additional storage-level redundancy, and production workloads that have relaxed availability and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) needs. Workloads with relaxed availability and RPO needs can tolerate temporary loss of availability for up to 20 minutes in the event of planned file system maintenance or unplanned service disruption and, in rare cases, the loss of data updates since the most recent backup.

Feature support by deployment type

The following table summarizes features supported by the FSx for Windows File Server file system deployment types:

Deployment type SSD storage HDD storage DFS namespaces DFS replication Custom DNS names CA shares
Single-AZ 1
Single-AZ 2 ✓*
Multi-AZ ✓*
Note

* While you can create continously available (CA) shares on Single-AZ 2 file systems, you should use CA shares on Multi-AZ file systems for SQL Server HA deployments.

Failover process for FSx for Windows File Server

Multi-AZ file systems automatically fail over from the preferred file server to the standby file server if any of the following conditions occur:

  • An Availability Zone outage occurs.

  • The preferred file server becomes unavailable.

  • The preferred file server undergoes planned maintenance.

When failing over from one file server to another, the new active file server automatically begins serving all file system read and write requests. When the resources in the preferred subnet are available, Amazon FSx automatically fails back to the preferred file server in the preferred subnet. A failover typically completes in less than 30 seconds from the detection of the failure on the active file server to the promotion of the standby file server to active status. Failback to the original Multi-AZ configuration also completes in less than 30 seconds, and only occurs once the file server in the preferred subnet is fully recovered.

During the brief period in which your file system is failing over and failing back, I/O may be paused and Amazon CloudWatch metrics may be temporarily unavailable.

Failover experience on Windows clients

When failing over from one file server to another, the new active file server automatically begins serving all file system read and write requests. After the resources in the preferred subnet are available, Amazon FSx automatically fails back to the preferred file server in the preferred subnet. Because the file system's DNS name remains the same, failovers are transparent to Windows applications, which resume file system operations without manual intervention. A failover typically completes in less than 30 seconds from the detection of the failure on the active file server to the promotion of the standby file server to active status. Failback to the original Multi-AZ configuration also completes in less than 30 seconds, and only occurs after the file server in the preferred subnet is fully recovered.

Failover experience on Linux clients

Linux clients do not support automatic DNS-based failover. Therefore, they don't automatically connect to the standby file server during a failover. They will automatically resume file system operations after the Multi-AZ file system has failed back to the file server in the preferred subnet.

Testing failover on a file system

You can test failover your Multi-AZ file system by modifying its throughput capacity. When you modify your file system's throughput capacity, Amazon FSx switches out the file system's file server. Multi-AZ file systems automatically fail over to the secondary server while Amazon FSx replaces the preferred server file server first. Then the file system automatically fails back to the new primary server and Amazon FSx replaces the secondary file server.

You can monitor the progress of the throughput capacity update request in the Amazon FSx console, the CLI, and the API. Once the update has completed successfully, your file system has failed over to the secondary server, and failed back to the primary server. For more information about modifying your file system's throughput capacity and monitoring the progress of the request, see Managing throughput capacity.

Working with Single and Multi-AZ file system resources

Subnets

When you create a VPC, it spans all the Availability Zones (AZs) in the Region. Availability Zones are distinct locations that are engineered to be isolated from failures in other Availability Zones. After creating a VPC, you can add one or more subnets in each Availability Zone. The default VPC has a subnet in each Availability Zone. Each subnet must reside entirely within one Availability Zone and cannot span zones. When you create a Single-AZ Amazon FSx file system, you specify a single subnet for the file system. The subnet you choose defines the Availability Zone in which the file system is created.

When you create a Multi-AZ file system, you specify two subnets, one for the preferred file server, and one for the standby file server. The two subnets you choose must be in different Availability Zones within the same AWS Region.

For in-AWS applications, we recommend that you launch your clients in the same Availability Zone as your preferred file server to minimize latency.

File system elastic network interfaces

When you create an Amazon FSx file system, Amazon FSx provisions one or more elastic network interfaces in the Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) that you associate with your file system. The network interface allows your client to communicate with the FSx for Windows File Server file system. The network interface is considered to be within the service scope of Amazon FSx, despite being part of your account's VPC. Multi-AZ file systems have two elastic network interfaces, one for each file server. Single-AZ file systems have one elastic network interface.

Warning

You must not modify or delete the elastic network interfaces associated with your file system. Modifying or deleting the network interface can cause a permanent loss of connection between your VPC and your file system.

The following table summarizes the subnet, elastic network interface, and IP address resources for FSx for Windows File Server file system deployment types:

File system deployment type Number of subnets Number of elastic network interfaces Number of IP addresses
Single-AZ 2 1 1 2
Single-AZ 1 1 1 1
Multi-AZ 2 2 4

Once a file system is created, its IP addresses don't change until the file system is deleted.

Important

Amazon FSx doesn't support accessing file systems from, or exposing file system to the public Internet. If an Elastic IP address, which is a public IP address reachable from the Internet, gets attached to a file system's elastic network interface, Amazon FSx automatically detaches it.