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Article Amazon Web Services July 26, 2017

It Takes Hardware to Get Rid of Hardware – Migrating Big Data

If you are moving to the Cloud, with a lot of data, you may need to get some hardware. This is because, even with high-speed Internet, the time it takes to move 100 terabytes or even petabytes (thousands of terabytes) from your data center to a public cloud provider can be measured in weeks, months or, in extreme cases, years.

CC Forklift

A good old-fashioned solution

Amazon has a lot of experience shipping items. You probably have a package from them arriving this week. Amazon Web Services (AWS) addressed this data migration conundrum in 2015 with Snowball, shippable rugged secure storage devices that you can fill up in your data center, ship back to Amazon, and have them put your data online. The Snowball can be used to transfer up to 100 terabytes.

Recently, AWS unveiled the Snowmobile, an 18-wheeler tractor trailer truck for literally tons of storage, specifically 100 petabytes. Park the AWS Snowmobile on-site, run some cables and transfer your data, then have it driven back to Amazon.

AWS Snowmobile

Google Gets Into the Act

No stranger to big data, Google now offers their own alternative, dubbed the Transfer Appliance. Comparable to the Snowball devices from Amazon, albeit without the cute name, the Google Transfer Appliance is currently in beta, and is available in 100 terabyte or 480 terabyte configurations. Google suggests more data could be stored, using compression, but remember that not all of the disk space is usable, as they use a RAID 6 configuration for redundancy and that consumes a certain percentage of the overall storage.

In both cases, AWS and Google Cloud, the data is stored using AES-256 encryption and once migrated, the drives are wiped clean. It might seem counterintuitive, but in order to fully move to the cloud, you may indeed need to buy, or at least rent, some physical disks.

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