back to article Amazon’s Snowball snowballs as Google's clone gets real and IBM's comes to Europe

IBM and Google have each announced a competitor for Amazon Web Services’s “Snowball”. Amazon’s Snowball is a rugged box full of disk that it ships to users so they can fill it with tens of terabytes of data. Once full, the Snowball rolls all the way to an AWS bit barn where its contents are transferred into Amazon’s cloud …

  1. nuked


    Literally a lorry load of data. Mind. Blown.

    1. Phil Kingston

      Re: Snowmobile

      I want pics

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Snowmobile

        > I want pics

        Videos here.

        Interesting point in their FAQ:

        The Snowmobile comes with a removable connector cabinet that needs to be mounted on one of your data center racks where it can be connected directly to your high-speed network backbone. The connector rack provides multiple 40Gb/s interfaces that can transfer up to 1 Tb/s in aggregate.

    2. SuperFrog

      Re: Snowmobile

      An "merican" truck nonetheless.

  2. macjules


    Microsoft also has a Snowball clone in the form of the Azure Data Box.

    Knew there was a use for all this warehoused Xbox and Surface rejects.

  3. ratfox

    "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway"

    1. ArrZarr Silver badge

      The Cannonball run

      Man, I really want to see a version of the cannonball run where you need to drive from Conneticut to Redondo, transfer data to your on board storage and then drive back as fast as possible.

      Just think of the possibilities for hijinks!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Plus shipping = outrage

    “The 100TB model is priced at $300, plus express shipping (approximately $500); the 480TB model is priced at $1,800, plus shipping (approximately $900)”

    How the hell are they shipping these, via first class air courier?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Plus shipping = outrage

      I know when I had to physically move storage I had someone trusted travelling with it at all times and I didn't stint on padding, packaging and tie downs. Think crown jewels or that suitcase in Pulp Fiction.

      1. monty75

        Re: Plus shipping = outrage

        In a previous job we moved servers across London in the back of a taxi.

        1. slimshady76

          Re: Plus shipping = outrage

          Back in the day we finished a Windows PlateSpin migration with ~20 thumbdrives and one (large at the time) 240GB carry disk HDD. They were shipped in a single box via UPS from Atlanta to Rochester because the white collars didn't want to pay the extra cash for a decent network link.

          When one of the folks went to the DC door to pick them up and got up to our war room, we all heard he dropped something as he crossed the door. A good ~45 seconds of silence followed, until he picked up the power source for the arcane external disk enclosure and said "Now I'm worth 16 million dollars, eh?" as that was the price of the migration/hosting contract.

  5. Ken 16 Silver badge

    Do you think US local law enforcement might confiscate the boxes?

    It'd be much more efficient that trying to intercept data in transit on the network.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Do you think US local law enforcement might confiscate the boxes?

      Excellent point. If they need to cross any borders, does it have a USB slot for the border agents to copy the data and add their malware?

  6. MarkB


    What more is there to say?

  7. GIRZiM


    The cheapest 1TB drive I found on Amazon was $34.99

    For 120TB, that's roughly $4,200.

    Or, for $474.50, I could get the Snowball delivered to a warehouse, on a trading estate a couple of hundred miles from where I live, stick it in a van, drive off and never be seen again, never mind ten days later.


  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cloud Mass Data Migration service?

    If IBM were selling sushi, they'd name it Cold Dead Raw Fish

  9. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    It's a portable hard disk. Is this really such a big deal? I'll get my coat. It's the one with 300 USB drives on a set of keys in it.

  10. SuperFrog


    I'm still not sure of the why?

    The only way I see this being effective is if you are a company "moving to the cloud" en masse. I don't know too many companies doing that kind of work.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Why?

      You've more or less answered your own question. It's to move data to the cloud someone else's computer en masse.

      "I don't know too many companies doing that kind of work."

      I think PT Barnum had something to say about that.

  11. geordiekorper

    I haven't checked out anything other than Snowball but the biggest issue with it was that the protocol used to put the data into a snowball (CIFS/NFS) is different than the one that is used to access it in the cloud once it is uploaded (HTTP). That adds significant complexity to adapting the business processes that are using the data to its new location. Yes, I realize that has been improved in more recent versions but still there is usually going to be a bit of manual fiddling for a lot of workflows. For the use case of capture a bunch of data for a fixed period of time, import it and do some processing on iit, the model works. For on-going workflows where data is being read and written more often than every few days it's pretty complicated. Most importantly where does new data go while the Snowball is in transit and how do sync up any changes made during that time.

  12. Lars Silver badge

    Oh happy days when

    IBM delivered smaller "snowballs", what a silly name, in boxes of 2000 snowflakes!.

  13. Stephendeg

    Will they throw one back if you need it?

    Say a 747 lands on my data-centre - will they send me a snowball back?

  14. Cloud, what..... Sorry... Um... - you just made that up.

    Does it go both ways?

    How do you get the data back again if you want to go onprem?

    Does the snowball go both ways?

    1. monty75

      Re: Does it go both ways?


  15. Smoking Man


    In old days, USB sticks with some dozen GB of sensitive data on them tended to get lost on trains, cabs and such.

    I think the fun really starts when such a snowball device with unencrypted mass data in the 100 TB range disappears in the street.

    "Boss, I really don't know how this could happen, I wanted to take some files with me just to work with them at home later today.."

  16. CrouchReg

    IBM's unit is secure

    The IBM Mass Data Migration Device has very sophisticated tracking technology as well as security features not found on any other system. Any time sensitive data is moved it should be protected in every way possible.

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