January 20, 2023

AWS Snowball – The most important information

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By Andrei Maksimov

January 20, 2023

snowball

AWS Snowball can help solve large-scale data transfer problems by allowing businesses to securely move vast amounts of data over long distances without relying on internet connections or third-party services. By using AWS Snowball, companies can quickly and securely move petabytes of data into and out of their AWS environment without worrying about data transfer time over the Internet or Direct Connect.

This article will provide the most important summary of the AWS Snowball. Let’s get started!

What is an AWS Snowball?

AWS SnowBall

AWS Snowball is a petabyte-scale data transport solution that uses secure appliances to transfer large amounts of data into and out of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud. The Snowball appliance is a ruggedized storage device with strong encryption and comes in 50TB or 80TB capacity options, depending on your needs.

The Snowball device enables you to securely transfer large amounts of data in as little as a few days, reducing the time it typically takes to move terabytes or petabytes of data using high-speed internet connections.

Snowball device helps solve multiple challenges with large-scale data transfers, including:

  • High network costs
  • Long data transfer times
  • Security concerns

AWS Snowball device uses multiple layers of security to protect customer’s data:

  • Tamper-resistant enclosure
  • 256-bit encryption – data transferred to the device is automatically encrypted using AWS KMS keys
  • Trusted Platform Module (TPM) – industry standard module designed to ensure security and full chain-of-custody of your data.
  • Complete device software erasure after each use – no one will be able to restore previously stored data from the device

You interact primarily with the SnowBall device over the local network through the SnowBall client or AWS Snow Family AWS Management Console (export data and import data operations).

What is AWS Snowball Edge?

AWS SnowBall Edge

AWS Snowball Edge is a secure data transfer device with storage (100TB) and compute capacity. Snowball Edge is designed to move large amounts of data into and out of AWS, provide additional temporary storage for large local datasets, or support local workloads in remote or offline locations. For example, you can run AWS Lambda functions on Snowball Edge.

For example, Snowball Edge might be an ideal device to collect IoT data from multiple devices in the field and then transfer it to AWS for further processing.

You’re interacting with AWS SnowBall Edge using the SnowBall Edge client, AWS CLI tools, and AWS Snow Family AWS Management Console.

SnowBall Edge provides you with AWS S3, IAM, and STS services. It can execute AWS Lambda functions powered by AWS IoT Greengrass (developed in Python) and runs EC2 instances (Linux and Windows). Additionally, SnowBall Edge devices can be clustered from 5 to 10 devices.

For storage access, you can use SnowBall Edge S3 or NFS endpoints.

For more information, check the official AWS Snowball Edge documentation.

SnowBall Edge Device Options

Currently, AWS SnowBall Edge is coming in the following configurations:

SnowBall Edge Storage Optimized (for data transfer)SnowBall Edge Storage Optimized (with EC2 compute)SnowBall Edge Compute OptimizedSnowBall Edge Compute Optimized with GPU
ComputeN/A24 vCPU, 80 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD for EC2 block storageUS regions: 104 vCPUs, 416 GB, 28 TB NVMe SSD for EC2 block storage

Other regions: 52 vCPUs, 208 GB, 7.68 TB NVMe SSD for EC2 block storage
US regions: 104 vCPUs, 416 GB, 28 TB NVMe SSD for EC2 block storage + 1 NVidia V100 GPU

Other regions: 52 vCPUs, 208 GB, 7.68 TB NVMe SSD for EC2 block storage + 1 NVidia V100 GPU
Storage80 TB80 TBUS regions: N/A
Other regions: 39.5 TB
US regions: N/A
Other regions: 39.5 TB

Refer to the official AWS Snowball Edge Device Differences for other specification parameters.

What is AWS Snowcone?

AWS Snowcone is an ultra-portable, rugged, and secure edge computing and data transfer device from Amazon Web Services (AWS). It is designed to support on-premises workloads in harsh environments such as industrial locations or areas with limited or no connectivity. With its small size and low power requirements, it can be used for analytics, machine learning, data collection, content distribution, storage, and more.

What is AWS Snowmobile?

AWS Snowmobile is an exabyte-scale data transfer service from Amazon Web Services (AWS). It provides secure, durable, and highly available storage for moving extremely large amounts of data to AWS from on-premises to the cloud. AWS Snowmobile is ideal for low-cost, secure, and fast migrations of massive datasets and even entire data centers that are too large to be transferred using traditional network connections. Customers can use AWS Snowmobile to move up to 100 PB of data in a single 45-foot-long shipping container pulled by a semi-trailer truck.

FAQ

What is the difference between AWS Snowball and Snowmobile?

The main difference between the AWS Snowball device and Snowmobile is the size and capacity of the devices. AWS Snowball is a small, ruggedized data transfer device that can store 50 TB to 80 TB of data, while AWS Snowmobile is a truck-sized storage device that can store up to 100 PB of data. Additionally, AWS Snowmobile is designed for extremely large data transfers over long distances, whereas AWS Snowball is better suited for smaller-scale transfers over shorter distances.

What is the difference between AWS Snowball and Snowball Edge?

The primary difference between AWS Snowball device and Snowball Edge is the amount of data they can transfer and the compute resources available in Snowball Edge. AWS Snowball is a petabyte-scale data transfer solution that can transfer up to 100 PB of data in a single job. At the same time, Snowball Edge is designed to support compute workloads at remote locations with limited or no internet access. Additionally, SnowBall Edge can store smaller amounts of data.

Does AWS Snowball provide API?

AWS Snowball provides an API with tools for programmatically managing Snowball jobs. The AWS Snowball API enables you to start and cancel jobs, retrieve job details, and manage the cluster of virtual machines associated with a job. Additionally, AWS Snowball Edge provides APIs for interacting with EC2, IAM, S3, and STS endpoints exposed by the device.

Summary

This article covered the most important information about AWS Snowball devices and provided an overview of the Snowmobile and Snowcone. These solutions can transfer data and provide compute capacity at locations with limited or no internet access.

Andrei Maksimov

I’m a passionate Cloud Infrastructure Architect with more than 15 years of experience in IT.

Any of my posts represent my personal experience and opinion about the topic.

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