The new information super-highway: Amazon hauls 100 petabytes of data on a truck

amazon snowmobile data migration cloud storage truck
Need to move lots and lots of data into the cloud but don’t have the time and money to pump all that information across the internet? Look no further than Amazon’s new Snowmobile for its Amazon Web Services platform. Despite the bitter cold, free-riding name, this data migration solution is a secure data “truck” that can store up to 100 petabytes of data for moving exabytes of data across the nation’s real highways to Amazon’s cloud in a matter of weeks.

Ten-four, good buddy.

Amazon describes its new Snowmobile as a “ruggedized, tamper-resistant shipping container” measuring 45-feet long, 9.6-feet high, and 8-feet wide. The container is both climate-controlled and waterproof and consumes around 350KW of power just for the cooling system alone. It can be parked in a covered or uncovered area at the customer’s datacenter, and Amazon will even supply a generator if customers can’t provide enough power to juice the container.

“Each Snowmobile includes a network cable connected to a high-speed switch capable of supporting one terabit per second of data transfer spread across multiple 40 gigabits per second connections,” Amazon’s Jeff Barr wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. “Assuming that your existing network can transfer data at that rate, you can fill a Snowmobile in about 10 days.”

Barr indicated that the Snowmobile is aimed at customers in the scientific industry, media and entertainment companies, financial services firms, and so on. It attaches directly to the company’s network and appears as a local, network file system (NFS) storage device. Customers can use their own backup/archiving tools to transfer all their data to be stored using Amazon Glacier or Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3).

Using a Lego-inspired example, Barr suggested Snowmobiles are ideal for aging data centers that still rely on racks full of disk and tape drives storing “precious, mission-critical” data. Thus, by moving all that data onto current storage technologies via the cloud, enterprises are spending less time and money trying to squeeze additional performance out of aging hardware.

AWS customers can call to set up a meeting to discuss how the data can be moved to Amazon’s cloud using a Snowmobile. Once the 18-wheeler shows up with the container, AWS Professional Services does all the work in connecting the container to the customer’s network. The customer then initiates the data transfer and when the process is finally complete, the 18-wheeler hauls the container back to Amazon to import the data as specified by the customer.

For now, Snowmobiles will only be used to migrate data into Amazon’s cloud. However, the company is quite aware that many customers may want to export their data from the cloud in disaster recovery cases. Barr didn’t say when the latter service will become available, nor did he have any info to share regarding the overall cost of using one or more Snowmobiles. However, this new truck-based storage transfer service is available in all AWS Regions.

To see Amazon’s new Snowmobile container, head over to Twitter and have a peek at the company’s coverage stemming from its annual Re:Invent conference that is currently under way in Las Vegas.


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