Dynamically Increase AWS EBS Capacity with New Elastic Volumes

Say goodbye to scheduling downtime while modifying AWS EBS storage volumes. No more bottlenecks. Modify these AWS EBS volumes on-the-go. Here’s why: AWS announces new feature to its EBS portfolio, called Elastic Volumes, which will help you automate changes to your EBS workloads without going offline or impacting your operations. Plus grow your volume, and change your IOPS, amazon EBS volume pricing or types as your requirements evolve. All without the need for scheduling downtime. And with today’s 24×7 operating models, it is more important than ever to have no room for that downtime.

Elastic Volumes: What is it about

Firstly, you need to know what AWS EBS is.  EBS is Elastic Block Storage that provides persistent block storage volumes for use with Amazon EC2 instances in the AWS Cloud. AWS EBS workloads optimize capacity, performance, or EBS cost by allowing you to increase volume size, adjust performance, and change volume type as and when the need arises. Primarily, due to its dynamic nature and the ability to offer persistence high-performance block AWS EC2 storage.

Prior to the launch of Elastic AWS Volumes, you had to schedule a downtime to that end, perform several steps like create a snapshot, restore it to a new volume, and attach this snapshot to a EC2 instance as and when your data volume grows.

Now, with the launch of Elastic Volumes, AWS has simplified the process of modifying EBS volumes drastically. You can also use CloudWatch or CloudFormation, along with AWS Lambda,  to automate EBS volume modifications, without any downtime.

AWS, in one of its blogs, says that Elastic Volumes reduce the amount of work and planning needed when managing space for EC2 instances. Instead of a traditional provisioning cycle that can take weeks or months, you can make changes to your storage infrastructure instantaneously, with a simple API call.

Essentially with AWS Elastic Volumes, as per AWS, you can:

  1. Change workloads: For instance, at some point, you realize that Throughput Optimized volumes are a better fit and need to change the type of the volume. You can do so easily with this new feature, without any downtime.
  2. Better handle the spiking demands: Assume, you’re running a relational database on a Provisioned IOPS volume that is set to handle a moderate amount of traffic during the month. You observe a ten fold increase in traffic during the final three days of each month due to month-end processing. In this scenario, you can use this new feature provision right, handle the spike, and then dial it down once the spike tones down.
  3. Increase storage: Suppose, you need to provision a volume for 100 GiB. An alert alarm goes off indicating that it is now at 90% of capacity (disk-almost-full). Using this new feature, you can increase size of the volume and expand file system to match, with no downtime, and in a fully automated fashion. You can also use Botmetric Ops & Automation’s Incidents, Actions & Triggers app, which can help you automate increase in size of the volume as soon as this disk-almost-full alert gets triggered. Instead of manually working on it, Botmetric will help you right-size the volume based on the criterion decreed in the respective Actions and Triggers.


How to go about it:

It’s very simple to configure:

  1. Sign in to AWS Console
  2. Select Amazon EBS
  3. Right click on the Volume you wish to modify

create volume in aws

Image Source: Amazon Web Services

  1. Modify Volume

Modify Volume AWS

Image Source: Amazon Web Services

  1. Check the progress, whether modified, optimized, or completed.

Modify Volume in aws

Image Source: Amazon Web Services


While the new feature helps increase capacity, tune performance, and change volume types on-the-fly, without disruption, and with single-click, it comes with certain restrictions:

  • Your volume needs to be detached or the instance stopped for modification to proceed, if you encounter an error message while attempting to apply a modification to an EBS volume, or if you are modifying an EBS volume attached to a previous-generation instance type
  • The previous generation Magnetic volume type is not supported by the volume modification methods
  • Decreasing the size of an EBS volume is not supported. However, you can create a smaller volume and then migrate your data to it using application-level tools such as robocopy
  • Modifying a volume, you need to wait at least six hours before applying further modifications to the same volume
  • medium instances are treated as current generation. M3.large, m3.xlarge, and m3.2xl instances are treated as previous generation.


With the launch of Elastic Volumes, AWS EBS is now more elastic. The best part, you can change an EBS volume’s size or performance characteristics when it’s still attached to and in use by an EC2 instance. With Botmetric’s Cloud Cost Management, you can get smart recommendations  for  underutilized EBS volumes, automation for the creation of snapshots for EBS volumes and delete unused EBS volume by a single click.

Check out the AWS video to know more: