Who knew big rigs were on the cutting edge of technology? The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon is using trucks to move data from its clients’ servers to the cloud servers its web services unit manages. The amount to data warehoused on company servers has grown so large that it could take up to 26 years to move an exabyte (1 billion gigabytes) of data to the cloud via the internet, but with trucks, the time can be reduced to 6 months.
Transporting data from companies to cloud providers has become immensely time-consuming as corporate data storage has ballooned from terabytes to petabytes to exabytes, each step a factor of roughly 1,000 larger than the last.
“When we started AWS [in 2006], the notion of an exabyte of data just seemed completely out there,” AWS Chief Executive Andy Jassy said. “Today, an exabyte of data is much more common.” That is equivalent to about 250 million DVDs or one trillion books of 400 pages each.
Amazon plans to drive Snowmobiles [Ed note: Snowmobiles are the name Amazon gives its massive storage devices pulled behind big rigs]to its customers’ offices, extract their data, then cruise to an Amazon facility where the information can be transferred to the cloud-computing network in far less time than it would for so much data to travel over the web.
The company, however, isn’t promising lightning speed. Ten Snowmobiles would reduce the time it takes to move an exabyte from on-premises storage to Amazon’s cloud to a little less than six months, from about 26 years using a high-speed internet connection, by the company’s calculations.
During a press conference, Mr. Jassy declined to disclose the cost of each Snowmobile unit but noted that the company has “several” of them. The trucks are currently available and customers are using them, he said. Snowmobile will cost half a cent per gigabyte per month of use, or about $500,000 a month to use its full capacity.
This isn’t the first time Amazon has circumvented the web to move data faster. Last year it introduced a suitcase-sized data-transfer service appliance known as Snowball. Amazon on Wednesday upgraded that gadget, doubling its capacity to 100 terabytes.