by Adam Armstrong

Amazon Introduces Amazon Snowmobile For Moving Exabytes Of Data

A little over a year ago, Amazon announced its Snowball for moving data to AWS faster. The initial Snowball was roughly the size of a briefcase and could store up to 50TB. For $200, customers could quickly load up data and physically ship it to Amazon to have it stored on AWS. While this seemed like a good idea to avoid the constraints that would be put on network connections in an attempt to move the data, it just wasn’t enough space. Amazon bumped up the size of the Snowball earlier this year to 80TB but it still isn’t quite enough for some companies. Enter Amazon’s new product for transferring data, the AWS Snowmobile.

The cloud holds many benefits from cost-effectiveness, to almost infinite scalability, to being used as a backup/DR location amongst others. But getting all of the data onto the cloud is a challenge. When you are a company that has, for instance, years of video files, financial records, satellite imagery, or scientific data, transferring this data to the cloud not only would take an incredibly long time, it can be very expensive. While the 80TB AWS Snowballs was a step in the right direction, it is just not enough capacity.

The AWS Snowmobile is a 45ft long, 9.6ft tall tamper-resistant shipping container that can store up to 100PB of data. Since the Snowmobile is an outdoor device to transfer data, customers can sleep safe knowing that it is water-proof and climate-controlled. The Snowmobile consumes 350 kW of AC power (if there isn’t sufficient power, Amazon can arrange a generator). The Snowmobile can supports transfer speeds as high as 1Tb/s using multiple 40Gb/s connections. At its top speed it should take about 10 days to fill the Snowmobile.

Having the device safe form the elements is one thing, it also needs to be safe from those that might be interested in getting their hands on it. According to AWS, Snowmobile incorporates multiple layers of logical and physical protection including chain-of-custody tracking and video surveillance. The data that is being shipped it is encrypted with the customers’ AWS Key Management Service (KMS) keys before it is written. Each container includes GPS tracking, with cellular or satellite connectivity back to AWS. Some of the data is so important that a security vehicle escort can stay with the Snowmobile in transit or dedicated security guards can be assigned to it.


The AWS Snowmobile is available in all AWS regions though Amazon has not yet released pricing.

Amazon Snowball

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