AWS Storage Blog

AWS Snowball device update – evolving at the edge

Since 2015, customers have used the AWS Snowball service to migrate large quantities of data to the AWS Cloud. Over time, the service has evolved and introduced new capabilities, including AWS Snowball Edge devices that feature on-board computing and increased storage capacity. The AWS Snow family continues to innovate to meet our customer’s needs. This includes the planned transition from older to newer hardware devices. Specifically, the AWS Snowball service is discontinuing the use of our early Snowball hardware designs in favor of more advanced Snowball Edge hardware devices. This will occur in all commercial AWS Regions and AWS GovCloud (US) Regions on April 7, 2020 except for Asia Pacific (Singapore) and the Mainland China Regions.

As noted in the AWS Snowball Console, beginning April 7, 2020, the AWS Snowball service will use 100-TB Snowball Edge Storage Optimized devices for data transfer jobs. The first-generation 50-TB and 80-TB Snowball hardware will be available for orders until April 6, 2020.

For customers doing data transfers, Snowball Edge devices offer advantages over earlier hardware designs, including higher usable capacity and faster data transfer – writing or reading data from the device. Another benefit is that customers do not need a powerful client workstation to load data on Snowball Edge devices as the client does not have to do any encryption with Snowball Edge. This provides more flexibility in batching and parallelization during copy operations using AWS Command Line Interface (CLI), as described here.

Snowball Edge is also more cost effective to use for large migrations because of its higher usable capacity. Since most customers send their devices back to AWS full of data, they require fewer Snowball Edge devices to complete large jobs, when compared to earlier devices. For reference, a 50-TB Snowball device has 42 TB of usable capacity and an 80-TB Snowball device has 72 TB of usable capacity. Comparatively, the Snowball Edge Storage Optimized 100-TB device has approximately 80 TB of usable capacity.

When a customer must pre-process data before ingest, they can use Amazon EC2 instances on Snowball Edge devices. This capability is not available on early Snowball designs, which were designed primarily to move large amounts of data. Customers can add EC2 to a Snowball Edge during the device ordering process in the AWS Management Console.

To learn more about Snowball Edge, please refer to the documentation and the Snowball Edge product page. If Snowball Edge devices are being used for your data transfer workloads, I recommend you read our Snowball Edge Data Migration Guide. It includes useful operational details, including tips on networking, batching, benchmarking, and monitoring, as well as best practices for large migrations.

This transition is part of our commitment to innovate on behalf of our customers. If you have any questions, please open an AWS Support case, contact your account team, or leave a comment on this post.

Paul Zuhorski

Paul Zuhorski

Paul Zuhorski is a senior technical product manager for AWS, covering edge computing and data transfer out of Seattle, Washington. Paul has spent 26 years working with customers, from admins to CIOs, on data storage, management and networking technologies, and business problems. He is working to keep skiing faster than his kids, but gets closer to losing every day.