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Backing Up Petabytes of Data to the Cloud with AWS Snowball Edge

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By W. Curtis Preston, Chief Technologist at Druva

When enterprises are considering an Amazon Web Services (AWS)-based service provider like Druva for data protection and data management, one of the initial questions is, “How will we get our first backup into the cloud?”

A business with a few terabytes may not think of this as much of a challenge, but what if you have a petabyte? Even businesses with a lot of available bandwidth would find copying a petabyte of data across the cloud a challenge.

The solution to this problem sounds relatively simple: the first backup can be sent via a physical shipment, referred to as seeding. You would then backup data to a physical device that is shipped to the service provider for offloading.

The logistics of such a process, however, are anything but simple. What device would you use? Is it designed for easy shipment to and from AWS? Will it need an accompanying appliance to act as a backup server? How difficult will it be to set up the operating system (OS) and backup software for this device, and make it compatible with whatever backup system you are using?

However you answers these questions, you will likely be paying for all hardware and software along the way.

With the introduction of AWS Snowball Edge in 2016, AWS improved on the original Snowball appliance by adding more storage and adding compute, memory, and networking. The compute resources can be used to pre-process data before storing it on the appliance.

Druva, an AWS Partner with the AWS Storage Competency, now offers a complete solution to eliminate the seeding challenge for cloud-based backups using a Snowball Edge preconfigured with Druva data management technology.

Seeding Data to Druva Cloud Platform

Enterprises needing to seed a significant amount of new data to Druva simply need to select the appropriate number of Snowball Edge devices from the Druva Cloud Platform console (each Snowball Edge can hold about 80TB of data).

Snowball Edge is then shipped directly from AWS preconfigured with Druva data management technology. Once you receive the device, simply power it on, connect it to your network, and start backing up to the Snowball Edge.

If using multiple Snowball Edge devices, you will need to configure the system in such a way that it can store up to 80TB of deduplicated and compressed data.

Druva customers can get anywhere from a 25-50 percent reduction even on their first backup, so an 80TB Snowball Edge can hold backups for 120-160TB of server data.

All data backed up by Druva Phoenix is globally deduplicated across your entire environment, and this deduplication is accomplished on the backup client at the beginning of the backup process. This minimizes network traffic and the amount of backup storage you will need.

This is why, even when backing up to a Snowball Edge device, a Druva Phoenix backup client communicates directly with the Druva Cloud Platform for authentication, metadata and deduplication processing.

To accomplish deduplication, each backup is broken into segments that are identified with a unique 160-bit cryptographic hash. The hash is created on the client then sent to the cloud, which uses the hash to determine if the segment has been backed up before from any another location. If the segment has never been backed up before, it will be stored on the Snowball Edge device.

If it has been seen before, it does not need to be stored again. Once the backup is complete, ship the Snowball Edge back to AWS, and Druva ensures AWS unloads the data into the Druva Cloud Platform.

Subsequent incremental backups will go straight to Druva Cloud Platform on AWS. You therefore get a complete solution to the seeding challenge without needing to purchase or configure any hardware.

Druva Cloud Platform-1

Figure 1 – The Druva Phoenix dashboard offers a live view of backups, recoveries, storage savings, and analytics. 

Key Benefits of Druva on AWS Snowball Edge

The key benefits of this unique solution include:

  • Plug and play workload mobility. With Druva on AWS Snowball Edge, simply apply backup policies and backup or restore directly to and from the device. With global deduplication technology, only a single copy of data is stored, ensuring maximum storage on device.
  • Ship petabytes securely. Snowball Edge devices use tamper-evident enclosures, 256-bit encryption, and industry-standard Trusted Platform Modules (TPM) designed to ensure both security and full chain-of-custody for your data. In addition, all data stored on the Snowball Edge is encrypted.
  • No additional cost. Procurement of Snowball Edge is offered within the Druva Cloud Platform through the Phoenix Data Protection Service, and is bundled in the Enterprise and Elite packages at no extra charge.

This entire service is provided at no additional charge to Druva Enterprise and Elite customers, including shipping the device back and forth, and the Snowball Edge fees themselves. We know the faster you can get the first backup completed, the sooner your entire environment will be protected by Druva Phoenix.

Druva Cloud Platform-2

Figure 2 – Ordering an AWS Snowball Edge through the Druva Phoenix dashboard is as easy as a few clicks. 

Druva Phoenix

Built from advanced cloud technologies and microservices on AWS, Druva Phoenix harnesses the native efficiencies and global reach of the cloud while delivering unmatched storage flexibility, scalability, data durability, and security.

By leveraging the elasticity and scale-out capabilities provided by the cloud, Druva Phoenix enables organizations to centralize the data protection and management for enterprise workloads, including physical file servers and/or NAS and databases, virtual (Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware vSphere, and Nutanix AHV) and hybrid (VMware Cloud on AWS – VMC) environments.

From a single control pane, IT can easily perform multiple tasks. For example, they can recover server or virtual machine data down to the file level, and can also failover virtual machines for disaster recovery with a RTO of minutes. You can also easily archive and manage data in the cloud for compliance.

Finally, you can also replicate data into other regions, and spin up instances in those regions for test and dev (workload mobility) purposes.

With Druva Phoenix, organizations significantly lower their total cost of ownership (TCO) over traditional or competitive solutions.

Being 100 percent cloud-native, Druva Phoenix requires no additional hardware or software for data protection, employs an auto-tiering model for cost efficient storage, provides global scale-out deduplication. This reduces bandwidth usage by up to 80 percent with the smallest storage footprint—and offers a true “pay-as-you-go” model that eliminates wasted resources.

Furthermore, there are no restore (egress) charges and you only pay for data stored, post global deduplication, in the cloud.


Moving your first backup to the cloud, especially when you have petabytes of data, can be a challenging undertaking. Now, using Druva and AWS Snowball Edge, you can easily seed your first backup via a physical shipment.

Druva Cloud Platform on AWS Snowball Edge offers a complete solution to eliminate this hurdle by providing a device preconfigured with Druva data management technology to backup your business critical data.

To get started, simply select the number of Snowball Edge devices needed from the Druva Cloud Platform console and the device ships directly from AWS, preconfigured and ready to go. Once it arrives, turn it on, connect it to the network, and start backing up.

The Druva Phoenix backup client will communicate with the Druva Cloud Platform for authentication, metadata and deduplication processing, and will store its backups on the Snowball Edge.

Leveraging this unique approach allows you to backup or restore directly to and from the device, and know your data is safe with AWS’ tamper-evident enclosures, 256-bit encryption, industry-standard TPM, and data encryption.

Best of all, there is no additional charge to Druva Enterprise and Elite customers. We know the faster you can get the first backup completed, the sooner your entire environment will be protected by Druva Phoenix.

Learn more about the Druva Snowball Edge service by downloading our solution brief.

The content and opinions in this blog are those of the third party author and AWS is not responsible for the content or accuracy of this post.


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Druva is an AWS Storage Competency Partner and leader in cloud data protection and information management, leveraging the public cloud to offer a single pane of glass to protect, preserve and discover information.

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