That tractor ain’t pulling a cargo trailer — it’s a huge hard drive!

snowmobileta

❝ Yes, today’s speediest internet connections make it faster to download movies than to go to the store and buy them. But downloading or uploading truly large amounts of data can still take days, months, or even years — think a film studio’s entire video archives or the satellite imagery collections of government agencies. That lag is a problem for Amazon, which wants companies to store their information in its lucrative cloud. But it’s also a natural one for Amazon — a logistics company at heart — to solve. So this week the company announced one of its strangest ideas yet: a tractor trailer that will transport your data to Amazon’s own data centers…

Amazon announced the new service, confusingly named Snowmobile, at its Re:Invent conference in Las Vegas this week. It’s designed to shuttle as many as 100 petabytes – around 100,000 terabytes – per truck. That’s enough storage to hold five copies of the Internet Archive (a comprehensive backup of the web both present and past), which contains “only” about 18.5 petabytes of unique data.

Amazon has long let businesses ship hard disks full of data to Amazon for uploading into the retail giant’s cloud. But copying 100 petabytes to individual hard drives isn’t practical. Snowmobile acts like a giant hard drive that comes to you…

❝ “On the security side, Snowmobile incorporates multiple layers of logical and physical protection, including chain-of-custody tracking and video surveillance,” Amazon cloud evangelist Jeff Barr wrote in a blog post announcing the service. In other words, Amazon is keeping a close eye on your data while it’s on the road. Each truck is weather-proofed and tamper-resistant and all data is encrypted, Barr says.

❝ …Amazon seems to believe that some companies will need multiple Snowmobiles. The site advertises itself as capable of handling data at the exabytes scale — or by Amazon’s new measurement, ten truckloads.

Cripes. Folks in logistics, nowadays, are solving problems that were’t even a figment of someone’s imagination just a decade ago.

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