AWS Snowmobile Is Amazon's Truck That'll Move Your Data To The Cloud - Yes, It's Literally An 18-Wheeler


Amazon has apparently taken a page off the the "sneakernet" playbook in order to get users' data uploaded to the cloud with its newly announced Amazon Web Services Snowmobile service.

Amazon's Data Truck

The AWS Snowmobile service involves towing a secure 45-foot-long 18-wheeler truck loaded with 100 petabytes worth of data, helping customers move about an exabyte, or 1 billion gigabytes in a matter of weeks.

Amazon says that the service is geared for large-scale operations such as finance, media, entertainment, scientific industries or other fields with mountainous amounts of data to store in the cloud. The truck will offload the data onto Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3) or Amazon Glacier, the company's web storage service. The Snowmobile will attach to its customers' network and will appear as a local, NFS-mounted volume on its customers' servers.

An Upgrade To AWS Snowball

The new Snowmobile data transfer service is a significant upgrade from Snowball, where Amazon deploys a rugged briefcase-like Snowball appliance for users to store their data in. These appliances, however, were only limited to 80 TB of storage, and users, companies or organizations who needed to lodge exabyte-scale data in the cloud found Snowball a cumbersome task because of its storage limit.

The Snowmobile In Action

Jeff Barr, Amazon Web Services' chief evangelist, illustrated the data transfer process using Lego parts.

Basically, Amazon will cooperate with companies whose data centers are encumbered with racks and racks of disk drives who need to get all of their crucial data into the cloud. Keep in mind that this is just one scenario out of many others and many situations will likely fit the bill.

After an agreement between two parties, the Snowmobile truck will arrive at the company's data center to migrate all the data needed to be uploaded to the cloud.

Availability And Pricing

Snowmobile is available in all AWS regions, though Amazon notes that unlike the Snowball, the Snowmobile service isn't meant to be carried out by a single party. As previously mentioned, Amazon will ensure that AWS professionals will discuss every facet of the process with potential companies who will order the service.

Pricing details aren't available as of this time, according to Barr, though they can assure that the Snowmobile service will cost less than a network-based transfer method and will be significantly faster, too.

Just for comparison, transferring 1 EB of data will take about 26 years over a 10 Gbps connection, while the same task can be accomplished in just six months using the Snowmobile. The truck's network cable can even transfer data up to 1 Tbps over multiple 40 Gbps connections integrated into the truck.

Amazon is progressively treading other waters beyond its e-commerce mainline, bleeding onto other interest such as creating its own content, its own line of tablets and e-readers and of course, its cloud services, which puts a considerable amount of revenue in its coffers.

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