New container logistics: moving petabytes

snowmobileTo transfer large amounts of corporate data to the cloud as part of a migration effort can be rather a challenging task for a company. Just imagine: moving petabytes (1 mln gigabytes) or exabytes (1 bln gigabytes) of financial records, AutoCAD design drawings, engineering documentation, simulation files, scientific data, satellite images and corporate videos by Internet, even with dedicated connections, can take years or decades!

This week Amazon Web Services introduced a smart solution – Snowmobile. A truck with a 45 feet container, tamper-resistant, water-proof, climate-controlled, that can be parked in a covered or uncovered area at the client’s premises, connected to his network and filled up with data necessary to move to Amazon cloud. Simply speaking, it is an HDD on wheels.

Each Snowmobile is equipped with a network cable connected to a high-speed switch capable of supporting 1 Tb/second of data transfer spread across multiple 40 Gb/second connections. Assuming that the customer’s network can transfer data at that rate, Snowmobile can be filled with 100 petabytes of data in 7-10 days.

On the security side, Snowmobile incorporates multiple layers of logical and physical protection including chain-of-custody tracking and video surveillance. The data is encrypted with special customized keys before it is written. Each container includes GPS tracking, with cellular or satellite connectivity back to Amazon. A security vehicle escort can be arranged when Snowmobile is in transit, as well as dedicated security guards while Snowmobile is on-premises.

Snowmobile is designed to meet the needs of large enterprises in the financial services, media and entertainment, scientific and other industries. Andrew R. Jassy, CEO Amazon Web Services, says that data volumes of many Amazon’s customers reach as much as exabytes. It may take over 26 years to move the date to the cloud with 10 Gb/second dedicated connection. 10 Snowmobiles will move this volume in about 6 months. Moreover, Snowmobile trucking of exabyte-scale data sets will be more cost effective than the transfer by Internet.

See the video of Andrew R. Jassy’s presentation of AWS Snowmobile

Leave a Reply