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Amazon wants to ship your data to the cloud using a literal truck

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Amazon just announced a new service called AWS Snowmobile, which is a 21st century version of the classic "sneakernet" method of data transport. Basically, Amazon is offering to tow a 45-foot-long shipping container full of hard drives to your data center, plug in to your servers via fiber, and siphon off up to 100 petabytes (a petabyte is 1 million gigabytes) of data. That shipping container is then transported to an Amazon data center where all the data is uploaded to S3 or Amazon Glacier, Amazon's cloud data storage services.

This is a sizable upgrade over Amazon's existing Snowball service, in which Amazon ships you a secure 80TB “Storage Appliance” to load your data onto over 10Gbps Ethernet. Amazon just announced a new version of Snowball (pictured above) with more storage and faster networking, but it’s still not “exabyte scale,” so the company decided to build something even bigger. With the new Snowmobile service, Amazon says you could ship one exabyte (an exabyte is 1,000 petabytes) of data to AWS in about six months — a feat which would take roughly 26 years over a 10Gbps dedicated connection. The Snowmobile truck's network cable is capable of transporting up to 1Tbps over multiple 40Gbps connections into the shipping container’s capacious hold.

I'm not sure how many companies are looking to ship a literal truck's worth of data to the cloud, but it sounds like a fun project anyway. Apparently one of Amazon's first customers is DigitalGlobe, who is transferring 100 petabyes of satellite imagery to AWS via these sweet hard drive trucks. Amazon is also looking into an export service with Snowmobile, which would allow you to get data out of AWS at this same shipping container scale.