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AWS Snowmobile

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

AWS Snowmobile is an Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud storage service designed to transfer huge amounts of data by truck.

Snowmobile enables massive data transfers from enterprises to the Amazon cloud, making even exabyte-level possible to transfer.

This truck-pulled, shipping-container held backup method is a conceptual throwback to sneakernets: the physical transport of data on storage media, usually by foot, to avoid long transfer times across slower internet connections. Snowmobile is a modern-day sneakernet on a massive scale. The Snowmobile truck holds enough hard drives together to store over 100 petabytes of data. Connections are made through multiple fiber channels, making for over 1Tbps (a terabyte per second) bandwidth. The data is then transported to a ruggedized shipping container and trucked to an Amazon datacenter and imported to Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) or Glacier.

Snowmobile is the answer to those who wanted to be able to move more data than Amazon’s existing service, Snowball is capable of. Snowball, which shipped an 80TB storage appliance connected by 10Gbps Ethernet, would take about 26 years to transfer an exabyte of data. Snowmobile, in comparison, can move an exabyte in 6 months.

This was last updated in January 2017

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