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Introducing the Snowmobile – Amazon’s 45-foot answer to data migration

Introducing the Snowmobile – Amazon’s 45-foot answer to data migration 

At the AWS re:Invent conference here, the Web service subsidiary of Amazon announced the availability of Snowmobile, an exabyte-scale data transfer service capable of moving up to 100 petabytes of data to the AWS cloud. The Snowmobile is essentially a 45-foot long ruggedized shipping container pulled by a semi-trailer truck. It’s designed to help organizations easily and economically move volumes of data, including video libraries, image repositories, even an entire data centre load of data, into the cloud.

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Yup, the truck was actually driven on stage to the surprise and cheers of the conference attendees.

The new release is an offshoot of AWS’s recent success with the original Snowball, a ruggedized container that stores 50TB of data which was introduced last year. The container was so popular that AWS decided to introduce 100TB model Snowball Edge at this year’s re:Invent.

Snowballs are protected by the AWS Key Management Service (KMS). In the United States, Snowballs come in two sizes: 50 TB and 80 TB. All other regions have 80 TB Snowballs only.

Interest in the Snowball has, well snowballed, and AWS was moved to launch Snowball Mobile.

There’s a growing demand for moving petabytes of data without using the cloud, says Jassy, because doing so would be too expensive and time-consuming for many organizations.

“Moving an exabyte of data would take 26 years with a 10-GB-per-second connection,” Jassy said. “With the Snowmobile, it would take six months… you wouldn’t believe how many companies have that much data.”

Depending on the location and maturity of some companies, they could also encounter other constraints such as broadband speed issues and cost.

There are many options for transferring your data into AWS but a Snowmobile will be transported to your data center and AWS personnel will configure it for you so it can be accessed as a network storage target.

When your Snowmobile is on site, AWS personnel will work with your team to connect a removable, high-speed network switch from Snowmobile to your local network and you can begin your high-speed data transfer from any number of sources within your data center to the Snowmobile.

After your data is loaded, Snowmobile is driven back to AWS where your data is imported into Amazon S3 or Amazon Glacier.

Snowmobile uses multiple layers of security designed to protect your data including dedicated security personnel, GPS tracking, alarm monitoring, 24/7 video surveillance, and an optional escort security vehicle while in transit.

All data is encrypted with 256-bit encryption keys managed through the AWS KMS  and designed to ensure both security and full chain-of-custody of your data.

Jassy said, Snowball Mobile is available now, and although he declined to name the company, he confirmed AWS already has a customer using the service.

Asked how much the Snowmobile service costs, Jassy said: “half-a-cent, per gigabyte a month.”

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