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Getting Started Guide for Cloud Storage
Provides information to get up and running with Cloud Storage
Getting Started
Cloud Storage
Getting Started/

Getting Started Guide for Cloud Storage


UKCloud's Cloud Storage service is an object storage solution based on Dell EMC Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS). Access is via a RESTful API, which also provides support for Amazon's S3 API.

This Getting Started Guide covers the tasks you need to perform to get Cloud Storage up and running in your environment. It also looks at common use cases for API‑based object storage within web applications and provides information about some command-line tools that you can use to interact with the storage API.

Intended audience

This article is intended for users who are starting out with UKCloud's Cloud Storage service and want to learn more about how it works.

Cloud Storage overview

Cloud Storage:

  • Is a secure and highly adaptable storage platform designed to address a wide variety of use cases

  • Is based on object storage technology that is natively optimised for cloud storage in terms of scale, resilience and accessibility

  • Removes the complexity of capacity management by utilising a pay‑as‑you‑go model, so you pay for what you use, when you use it, scaling indefinitely and on demand

  • Natively provides application redundancy to ensure the highest level of data availability, whilst reducing the cost and management of on-premises storage solutions

  • Provides easy access to storage anywhere, any time, to any device, using HTTP(S) to simplify the integration of object storage systems into cloud‑based solutions by removing the need to rely on the availability of web, file or FTP servers

  • Offloads objects (files, media, images) from compute resources, reducing the load on server resources

  • Automatically replicates and distributes objects to give high levels of data durability and availability, eliminating the need for cloud backup and recovery

ECS provides an API that you can use to manage your cloud storage. The ECS S3-compatible API enables you to easily migrate applications between Atmos, S3 and other S3‑compatible storage; but not all functionality available in S3 is available on ECS, as shown in the S3 API supported and unsupported features section of the Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) Data Access Guide.

[!NOTE] The ECS Atmos API has been deprecated, we therefore suggest customers re-engineer their solutions to make use of the defacto S3-compatible API.

Cloud Storage use cases

The low cost of cloud storage per GiB, as well as its almost unlimited scalability, means there's a large variety of use cases for it. For example, it's ideal for data archives, backups, log files, and media repositories.

We anticipate that most web applications can make good use of cloud storage for static content, such as images and downloadable binaries. Storing these items in cloud storage (rather than in primary storage attached to web servers, inside the database or on a traditional file share), can provide significant benefits in terms of cost savings, agility and performance.

For example, with an internet-facing application that enables users to download forms and guides in PDF, these items are often stored in primary storage attached to the web servers, which creates several challenges:

  • Whenever a PDF is updated, the updated copy must be replicated to all web servers

  • When an item is downloaded, the bandwidth usage of the web server in question increases

  • Multiple simultaneous downloads could overload the web servers or other components of the network infrastructure

  • Each object is stored multiple times in primary storage, increasing the overall cost of storage

On the other hand, storing this content in cloud storage overcomes these challenges because:

  • Only one copy of each item is stored, so updates only need to be made in one place

  • End users connect directly to cloud storage to download PDFs, bypassing the web servers and associated network infrastructure

  • Objects are stored only once, and at a much lower price per GiB, which substantially reduces the overall cost of storage

The same principles apply to other static content, such as images and (especially) videos. The more workload you can offload onto an external system such as cloud storage, the leaner your application infrastructure can become.

There are often questions around how best to implement this. Ultimately, it's up to the application developers, but a popular approach is as follows:

  1. Handle content uploads and creation on the web servers

  2. Perform any required modifications or transformations using on-demand processing servers (usually from a message queue)

  3. Write the content into cloud storage, storing the resulting object IDs, external URLs and any other relevant metadata in the application database

This process provides a relatively simple transition to cloud storage. The application still knows about all the objects, but rather than retrieving, for example, a relative path for an item from the database, its entire URL is retrieved, pointing to cloud storage.

Before you begin

When you request your Cloud Storage service, UKCloud Support creates a namespace in the specified account.

To create S3 buckets, use any S3-compliant tool. To create additional namespaces, you must raise a Service Request via the My Calls section of the UKCloud Portal.

API endpoints

Cloud Storage provides different API endpoints to access your storage, depending on the UKCloud site and connectivity type you are using. Make sure you use the correct endpoint to ensure the best possible performance for your solution.

  Corsham (Assured) Farnborough (Assured)

Contact UKCloud support if you are unsure which endpoint to use.

Using the ECS S3-compatible API

The S3-compatible API is at:


Check which api_endpoint to use in Before you begin, for example:

To help get you started, you can find developer resources on the Amazon web site at:

For details of the supported and unsupported S3 operations on ECS, see:

You may also find the Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) Data Access Guide useful:

[!NOTE] Currently, the HSCN DNS service doesn't allow UKCloud to create wildcard DNS entries for our services. This means that S3 URLs that feature the bucket as part of the domain do not work (for example, With most S3 tools, you can choose whether to use prefix buckets or suffix buckets. If you are using the service via HSCN you'll need to make sure your client tools support suffix buckets.

Amazon S3 Authentication Tool for Curl

The Amazon S3 Authentication Tool for Curl (S3Curl) is a very useful Perl script, developed by Amazon. It's a wrapper for Curl that calculates the required authentication signature automatically for each request. As the authentication signature changes for every request, this allows Curl to interact with the API outside of code, enabling you to validate that your commands are working correctly and view the raw HTML response from the API, which can be useful when troubleshooting.

For more information about S3Curl, see

To use S3Curl:

  1. Download S3Curl from the following location:

  2. Install the following required dependency:

    sudo apt-get install libdigest-hmac-perl
    yum install perl-Digest-HMAC
  3. In the home directory, create a file named .s3curl containing your credentials. For example:

    %awsSecretAccessKeys = (
        UKCloud => {
            id => '<user_id>',
            key => '<secret_key>',


    • user_id is your User ID (you can find this in the Storage section of the UKCloud Portal)

    • secret_key is your secret key (if you've forgotten or don't know your secret key, you can reset it in the Storage section of the UKCloud Portal)

  4. Change the permissions, otherwise the Perl script will refuse to run.

    chmod 600 .s3curl
  5. Make the following modification to the script itself so that it will work correctly with ECS:

    a. Open the file in your preferred editor (for example, vim or nano).

    b. Scroll down until you find the following comment:

    # begin customizing here

    c. The S3 endpoints are defined below this line, so add your Cloud Storage host name to this list as follows:

    my @endpoints = ('<api_endpoint>', '', ...

    For example:

    #begin customizing here
    my @endpoints = ('', '', ...

    d. Save the file.

  6. S3Curl is now ready to use. You can call it as follows:

    perl --id UKCloud -- <curl_arguments>

    The curl_arguments need to contain the host name and port number. For example, to list your buckets, you could use:

    perl --id UKCloud --

    Or to delete a file named Lighthouse.jpg in /bucket2:

    perl --id UKCloud -- -X DELETE

Using a command-line interface

Interacting with Cloud Storage via the API directly is ideal for web-based applications, but having access from the command line can help developers with testing and provide scripting access to Cloud Storage.

Command‑line interface (CLI) tools enable access from the command line by translating commands into the relevant API calls. There are lots of CLI tools to choose from; this article examines two for the S3 API: one for Linux and one for Windows.

Using S3cmd (Linux CLI)

S3cmd is an open-source tool for Linux, written in Python.

To use S3cmd:

  1. Download and extract the S3cmd files from the following location:

  2. Create the required configuration files by running the following command:

    s3cmd --configure
  3. When prompted, provide the following information:

    • Access Key - your User ID (you can find this in the Storage section of the UKCloud Portal)

    • Secret Key - your secret key (if you've forgotten or don't know your secret key, you can reset it in the Storage section of the UKCloud Portal)

    • Encryption password - create a secure password

    • Path to GPG program - as appropriate for your system

    • Use HTTPS protocol - yes

  4. You'll be prompted to test the connection. After the test, even if it fails, save the configuration, which will be written to ~/.s3cfg.

  5. Edit the ~/.s3cfg file and confirm that the host_base and host_bucket lines look like the following:

    host_base = <api_endpoint>

    host_bucket = %(bucket)s.<api_endpoint>

    [!NOTE] Ensure that you use the appropriate api_endpoint, as shown in Before you begin, for example:
    host_base =
    host_bucket = %(bucket)

  6. Save the file.

  7. The S3cmd tool is now ready to use. To list your buckets, run the following command:

    s3cmd ls
  8. You can find detailed instructions for using the tool in the accompanying README file.

Using S3Express (Windows CLI)

S3Express is a lightweight command-line tool for Windows, which is self-contained in a single executable. It's a licensed product, with free trials also available.

To use S3Express:

  1. Download and install the S3Express files from the following location:

  2. Use the following commands to configure the tool to access Cloud Storage:

    saveauth <user_id> <secret_key> UKCloud

    setopt --endpoint:<api_endpoint>


    • user_id is your User ID (you can find this in the Storage section of the UKCloud Portal)

    • secret_key is your secret key (if you've forgotten or don't know your secret key, you can reset it in the Storage section of the UKCloud Portal)

    • api_endpoint is the appropriate endpoint, as shown in Before you begin, for example:


  3. The S3Express tool is now ready to use. To list your buckets, run the following command:

  4. For detailed instructions, refer to the Windows help file, which is installed along with the tool.

Working with Cloud Storage in the UKCloud Portal

Although you will mostly interact with your Cloud Storage service through the API, the UKCloud Portal provides access to some information about your service. Within the UKCloud Portal, you can:

  • View information about the namespaces within your Cloud Storage environment, including:

    • How many buckets are in each namespace

    • Storage consumed by each namespace

  • View a list of users with access to the namespace

  • Reset the secret key for a user

  • View information about the buckets within a namespace, including:

    • Storage consumed by the bucket

    • Number of objects in the bucket

  • View a graphical representation of the storage consumed by a bucket over the last 30 days

For more information, see How to view Cloud Storage information in the UKCloud Portal.

To access your Cloud Storage service in the UKCloud Portal:

  1. Log in to the UKCloud Portal and select your account.

    For more detailed instructions, see the Getting Started Guide for the UKCloud Portal.

  2. In the Portal navigation panel, expand the Cloud Storage option and select ECS.

  3. You can now browse the namespaces, buckets and users in your Cloud Storage service.

    Cloud Storage information in UKCloud Portal

Next steps

In this Getting Started Guide, you've learned the basics about the Cloud Storage service. For more detailed information, see the following articles in the Knowledge Centre:


This section provides a glossary of terms specific to Cloud Storage.

Term Definition
bucket A container for objects within a namespace.
Cloud Storage UKCloud's secure and highly adaptable storage platform designed to address a wide variety of use cases. Cloud Storage is based on object storage technology that is natively optimised for cloud storage in terms of scale, resilience and accessibility.
Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) A next-generation object-based storage platform developed by EMC.
namespace A construct used to ensure that objects are uniquely named in a multi-tenant environment.
object storage A method of storing unstructured data as objects (file + metadata) in non-hierarchical containers or buckets. Each object has a unique identifier to enable the object to be easily retrieved without knowing its exact location.
S3 The defacto API standard for object storage.
secret key A method of providing authenticated access to objects in Cloud Storage.
subtenant A construct used to create a multi-tenant environment within Cloud Storage.


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