Home Cloud Amazon Web Services Why, When And Where Do We Need AWS Snowball?

Why, When And Where Do We Need AWS Snowball?


In the era of unimaginable technological advancements on the Internet, driverless cars, drones that can deliver daily goods from the route of the sky, and instant access to social media feed on our phones; it’s quite exhilarating to know that there is a service which is a little old school.

Amazon’s Snowball is a data transfer service that uses a physical device sent by Amazon. However, the only thing that’s “old school” is that it uses a physical product, even though Snowball is highly advanced in terms of what it does, how it works, and how it benefits your organization. 

Snowball is a godsend for businesses doing petabyte-scale research projects. Those that have accumulated a vast amount of backup data have a legacy tape backup system they need to transfer their data to cloud storage or shutting down an entire data center and migrating to the cloud ecosystem. 

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What exactly is AWS Snowball, and what it does?

The AWS Snowball is a service that uses physical storage devices to transfer large amounts of data between Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (popularly known as S3 bucket) and your on-premise data storage location faster speed than the Internet (as mention earlier). Amazon claims that it can save your time and money. Snowball offers a powerful interface that you can use to create jobs, track data, and track your jobs’ status through to completion. 

data Transfer

Snowball is a physically rugged device that can be protected by the AWS Key Management Service (AWS KMS). They secure and protect your data in transit—regional shipping carriers transport Snowballs between Amazon S3 and your on-premise data storage location. 

When should you use Snowball?

Generally, Snowball used when there is a data migration project; when there is a vast amount of data stored locally, and a need to move that Data to the cloud. However, there may be petabytes of information; the Internet is not a viable option because of its speed issues, security concerns, and networking complexities. 

Snowball has many benefits to offer. One of them is the ease of migration. It all starts with the AWS Console, where you can initiate the migration with few clicks. Once you are done with it, Amazon determines whether you need one or more Snowball client devices. For terabytes of data, you only need one client, whereas, for petabytes of data, you likely need more than one. 

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Then, a physical device arrives at your place. You have to connect them to your network and run the Snowball client application and select the data sources. After that, the migration runs at high speed and over a secure connection, not the Internet. Amazon uses an E Ink label for Snowball shipment; so once the migration is done and you are ready to send the device back, the label changes and shows the correct address for the return shipment. 

As you have guessed it, the devices are not stashed away in a vault at this point. Amazon shifts your data to Amazon S3 for easy access in the cloud. The important point is to make here is that now you can take the never-ending advantages of the enormous scale of cloud computing by adding additional storage archives to this one storage location. Once you are done with the migration to the cloud using Snowball, the physical transfer work enables your company to move to cloud infrastructure and benefit the reliable, secure storage. You can also decide to eliminate portions of your S3 archives at any time.

There are perks for how this works from a cost standpoint as well. The cost of secure data transmission over the Internet for a petabyte or a terabyte-scale can run up to several thousand dollars. However, Amazon claims that migration cost with Snowball is about one-fifth of the normal migration costs when the Internet and high-speed network are involved.

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Features List

Here we enlist all the features of AWS Snowball that Amazon claims:

  • 80 TB and 50 TB models are available in US regions; whereas only 50 TB model is all the other AWS regions. 
  • AWS uses Enforced encryption to protect your data at rest and in the physical transmission. 
  • You don’t need to buy and maintain your own hardware devices. 
  • You can also manage your jobs via AWS Snow Family Management Console or programmatically with the job management API. 
  • It allows you to transfer your Data locally between your on-premises data center and a Snowball. You can perform these transfer with the help of a Snowball client, a standalone downloadable client. Or you can transfer programmatically using Amazon S3 REST API calls with the downloadable Amazon S3 Adapter for Snowball. For more information, check Transferring Data with a Snowball.


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