Using AWS Transfer for SFTP? SFTP Gateway could save you time and money

AWS Transfer for SFTP

If you’re using AWS Transfer for SFTP transactions to cloud storage locations like an S3 bucket, we might have a better option for you. SFTP Gateway from Thorn Technologies is an alternative to AWS Transfer that could save you both time and money.

In a recent livestream on YouTube, members of the Thorn Tech team spoke in detail about the differences between using SFTP Gateway and AWS Transfer for SFTP. Though the two file transfer services have similar features, there are some large differences, particularly when it comes to ease of use, pricing and support.

With SFTP Gateway, there’s an opportunity for your organization to:

  • Save hundreds or maybe even thousands of dollars.
  • Save quite a bit of time and require less technical expertise if you use SFTP Gateway instead of AWS Transfer for SFTP transactions to the cloud.
  • Take advantage of SFTP Gateway’s free developer email support, something you don’t get if you use AWS Transfer for SFTP transfers.

Want even more details? We’ve included some of the key points from that SFTP Gateway vs. AWS Transfer for SFTP livestream below.

Start a 30-day free trial of SFTP Gateway today.

Features and Ease of Use with SFTP Gateway and AWS Transfer

Both SFTP Gateway and AWS Transfer have some similar features. While there might be a few things that Transfer can do that SFTP Gateway can’t, and vice versa, both products can technically accomplish most of what you need to do. The main difference, however, lies in how easy it is to accomplish those tasks and that SFTP Gateway is focused specifically on Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP).

SFTP Gateway allows an admin to give SFTP users access to Amazon S3 and other cloud storage locations with a simple web-based admin portal. Designed specifically as an SFTP solution, you can open up the web admin portal, create a user, set up key-based authentication or a password, and set folder permissions, among other things.

AWS Transfer, on the other hand, is more of a tool in the list of AWS services, rather than an integrated SFTP solution. In order to use any of the features, you need to string together other AWS services.

For example, Transfer gives you key-based authentication out of the box. But, the moment you want to add passwords, it doesn’t support that. Instead, you need to implement an additional Lambda function in order to support password authentication, and then point the Lambda to AWS Secrets Manager, where you store those passwords.

Another example is folder permissions. With SFTP Gateway, you can manage these in a web admin portal. But with Transfer, you need to write an IAM policy that enumerates the permissions of the folder hierarchy. This can be difficult, time consuming and requires specific knowledge of IAM policy schema.

AWS Transfer does have a solution where you can deploy a web admin portal that works with Transfer. But, this is not an off-the-shelf product, it is more like open-source code. It involves deploying a highly available web application in docker containers behind a load balancer, orchestrated by CloudFormation. And since it’s an AWS Solution, you are responsible for maintaining this application and its security.

Overall, there is feature parity between SFTP Gateway and AWS Transfer. With SFTP Gateway, these features are built into the application. But with AWS Transfer, you will need to integrate and orchestrate other AWS services to use these features.

Pricing for using SFTP Gateway vs. AWS Transfer for SFTP

Let’s compare the costs associated with using SFTP Gateway vs. AWS Transfer for SFTP and help businesses make an informed decision about which solution is best for them.

AWS Transfer is a managed service provided by Amazon that allows businesses to transfer files over SFTP, FTPS, and FTP directly into and out of Amazon S3. With AWS Transfer, businesses pay for an endpoint, as well as some of the network costs.

The endpoint is essentially an SFTP service that AWS manages on the user’s behalf. The cost of the endpoint is 30 cents per hour, which is a lot for an SFTP service. While you can stop the endpoint, you will continue to be billed for it until you do. Once it’s up and running, it stays that way until you terminate it.

With SFTP Gateway, businesses only pay for the cost of running the server, which is six cents per hour after the 30-day trial period ends, plus your cloud infrastructure costs from AWS. You can also turn SFTP Gateway on and off easily. This makes SFTP Gateway a much more cost-effective solution, especially for workloads only requiring one server.

When it comes to network bandwidth pricing, AWS Transfer splits the cost between ingress (data going into AWS) and egress (data going out of AWS). This is the first time AWS is charging for data ingress, and this is something to consider if your workload involves archiving large amounts of data, such as media files.

SFTP Gateway, on the other hand, writes directly to S3. Since there are no egress data transfer charges for writing to ec2 or S3, you will not be charged anything additional for file uploads using SFTP Gateway.
Another unexpected cost associated with AWS Transfer is AWS Secrets Manager. Many SFTP implementations have to accommodate at least some users with password authentication. So in practice, you will likely be using a Lambda with AWS Secrets Manager for authentication.
Secrets Manger is priced at 40 cents per secret, per month. This is reasonable for its original use case, which is to rotate database passwords. But if you’re creating one secret for each SFTP user, this can be a significant cost if you have hundreds or thousands of users. Even with a few SFTP users, this cost can seem unfair, because it’s not normal to be charged per user.
Overall, SFTP Gateway provides a cost-effective solution with straightforward pricing, giving you a new option for when you need to SFTP files to an S3 bucket. By using SFTP Gateway, businesses can avoid the high costs associated with AWS Transfer and only pay for the resources they need.

Support for SFTP Gateway vs. AWS Transfer for SFTP

Whether you are in the deployment process or experiencing issues after setting it up, SFTP Gateway offers free email support for developers. This means that if you run into any problems, you can simply email the SFTP Gateway team, and they will get back to you within 24 hours during normal business hours.

In addition to free email support, SFTP Gateway also offers paid advanced support packages, which include options such as screen sharing and phone support. This is especially useful for those who need more immediate assistance.

On the other hand, if you experience an issue with AWS Transfer, you would need to purchase basic support in order to email them for assistance. Alternatively, you can search for answers on the AWS Transfer documentation or look for user-made tutorials on platforms such as YouTube and Stack Overflow.

When it comes to finding information, it’s worth noting that SFTP Gateway has a comprehensive knowledge base available 24/7, which may be helpful in finding the answers you need. There’s also a YouTube channel filled with quick start guides and how-to videos.

Questions about using SFTP Gateway vs. AWS Transfer for SFTP?

We understand that different organizations have different requirements when it comes to file transfers. We’re here to help if you have any questions or need assistance as you evaluate your file transfer service options and as you deploy and maintain SFTP Gateway. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if we can help.

We’ve also launched SFTP Gateway as a SaaS SFTP service for $9 a month per user. It comes with a 30-day free trial. If you’re note sure which plan is right for you, check out this blog post we created on choosing the right SFTP Gateway solution.

Watch the full discussion by the Thorn Tech team on using SFTP Gateway vs. AWS Transfer for SFTP


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