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AWS ramps up efforts to solve enterprise petabyte-scale cloud data migrations woes

Cloud giant fleshes out data-transfer appliance portfolio to help enterprises shift large amounts of data off-premise

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is stepping up support for enterprises struggling with shifting large volumes of on-premise data into the cloud by expanding its Snowball product range.

The company has followed up the 2015 release of its 50TB Snowball data transfer appliance with two further offerings, designed to help enterprises with petabytes to exabytes of data that need moving to the cloud.

The first – Snowball Edge – has double the capacity of the first-generation appliance, along with several other features that were not included in the 50TB version.

These include Amazon Greengrass, a service that made its debut alongside Snowball Edge, during the keynote at this year’s AWS Re:Invent customer conference in Las Vegas. It is designed to be embedded into internet of things (IoT) devices so they can locally process data.

In the context of Snowball Edge, Greengrass will allow users to transfer data stored on the appliance to the Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) or link up multiple devices of the same type to create an on-premise storage pool.

Each appliance costs $300, and users can keep it for up to 10 days, during which time they will be expected to fill it with data, before shipping it off to AWS so its content can be uploaded to the public cloud.

According to AWS, the setup allows enterprises to shift their off-premise data into the cloud for around one-fifth of the cost attempting a similar transfer via a high-speed internet connection would incur.

During the Re:Invent keynote, Andy Jassy, CEO of AWS, said – since the release of the first generation Snowball appliance – users have been demanding higher capacity versions as the amount of data they need to move to the cloud grows.

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“Before we launched it, we had a lot of debates as a team about how many Snowballs we needed. I chastised the team a little bit for ordering too many, but in a week, we had to go back and order 10 times the Snowballs we had. It’s been incredibly popular,” he said.

Jassy also used the keynote to debut an even bigger cloud data transfer vehicle called AWS Snowmobile, which is a 100 petabyte tamper-proof 45-foot-long shipping container designed for enterprises that want to move exabytes of data to the cloud in a matter of weeks.

Speaking to Computer Weekly, Jeff Barr, chief evangelist at AWS, said Snowmobile is targeted at organisations that may be facing up to a decade-long wait to get all their data into the cloud without it.

“It’s for customers who might be doing data collection from oil wells or financial data. We have a lot of customers in the entertainment industry, so it could be hi-res data from movies or even satellite data,” he said.

“The common thread is the customers have a lot of it and they need to get it to the cloud somehow. The 50-to-100 terabyte range [covered by Snowball] is certainly a very large and respectable amount of data, but a lot of customers said that’s almost nothing compared with what we have,” added Barr.

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