AWS Storage Blog

Expanding AWS Hybrid Cloud Capabilities with Block Storage on Snowball Edge

Enterprises have been using AWS as the cloud portion of their hybrid architectures since AWS was born thirteen years ago, and we have built out the broadest and deepest set of hybrid architecture functionality to extend AWS services to on-premises and edge locations. Today, we reached another milestone with the launch of block storage on AWS Snowball Edge, a feature that provides persistent storage volumes for use with EC2 instances running on their Snowball Edge.

Snowball Edge is a ruggedized device that provides data transfer, edge computing and storage capabilities for customers to migrate data and run applications for real-time insights in locations without network connectivity.

With today’s announcement, customers can now choose among block, file, and object storage for use with their applications operating in disconnected locations. Latency-sensitive applications can use the new Performance-Optimized NVMe SSD volumes; capacity and throughput-oriented workloads can leverage Capacity Optimized Hard Disk Drive (HDD) volumes. And customers can continue to use Amazon S3-compatible object storage for applications that use the Amazon S3 API.

Why did we build this? Customers have told us that they want to deploy applications developed on AWS to disconnected and physically harsh locations using instance computing and block storage. Deploying these applications to these edge locations enables customers to process locally created or ingested data in real-time for in-field analysis and automated decision making using the same resources and methods they use in the cloud. Snowball Edge with its new block storage service enables customers to quickly deploy EC2 Amazon Machine Image (AMI) based applications that require one or more block storage volumes.

To use this new feature, using the Amazon EBS API, you dynamically create and attach block storage volumes to Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) that you have on your Snowball Edge Compute Optimized and Snowball Edge Storage Optimized device. You do not have to pre-provision volumes, you can create them in the field as needed, and they will grow elastically to their defined size. To learn more and to get started, visit

Storage for Hybrid and Edge Environments

This is the latest example of AWS innovation for hybrid and edge IT environments, which builds on our unparalleled experience gained from working with businesses of all sizes, including government organizations who have stringent security requirements. AWS is the only cloud provider capable of addressing all U.S. Department of Defense and National Security Classification levels, including Unclassified, Secret, and Top Secret. We provide the broadest set of cloud storage offerings for hybrid and edge computing to meet customers where they are today.

In 2012, we were first to market with a storage gateway solution among all major cloud providers. Today, we are the only major cloud provider with cloud gateways to support file, block, and tape-based data, giving customers the most flexibility to connect existing on-premises applications to AWS storage.

Customers ranging from Analog Devices to Kellogg’s use AWS Storage Gateway in their hybrid environments.

Hybrid architectures fundamentally require customers to move data into and out of the cloud, and data mobility has been a challenge for many enterprises. We fully appreciate the complexity of customers’ environments and have delivered more ways to help customers move their data across distributed environments than any other cloud provider. Our broad range of data transfer choices enable customers to move virtually any type of data for any application more easily, and with the best tools for the job.

Celgene’s labs generate petabytes of intellectual property data for drug discovery in their mission to cure cancer. They use AWS DataSync to transfer the data from their labs into AWS easily, quickly and cost-effectively. In addition, they use AWS File Gateway to provide a low-latency cache for data that is frequently used by scientists, and use AWS Transfer for SFTP to securely exchange data with their research partners. “Without the data in AWS, there’s no way we could innovate as fast,” says Lance Smith, Director of Research Computing at Celgene. “The AWS portfolio of hybrid storage and transfer services works with my existing lab computing environments and processes, and help us get our irreplaceable data safely into AWS, where our scientists can use it for whatever they need – machine learning, data analytics or HPC.”

Customers also tell us that some of their on-premises computing workloads do not sit inside their offices or data centers, but rather in disconnected or intermittently connected edge locations which are harsh and often ephemeral. We answered their requests in 2016 with AWS Snowball Edge, a data migration and edge computing device to run AWS storage and compute capabilities on a ruggedized device in their remote and often disconnected locations, so customers can innovate virtually anywhere.

We have been innovating non-stop since the launch of Snowball Edge. In July 2018, we released the ability to run Amazon EC2 instances on Snowball Edge, in addition to AWS IOT Greengrass and AWS Lambda. In November, we added the Snowball Edge Compute Optimized device, that more than doubled the available computing power, and provided an optional GPU so customers can do real-time full-motion video analysis & processing, machine learning inferencing, and other highly parallel compute-intensive work.

We are hearing a lot of interest in our hybrid and edge computing capabilities from many customers, ISVs and systems integrators, particularly in defense and governmental agencies who operate in the most rugged and demanding environments where both reliability and security are absolute requirements.

DuChancell Engineering Consulting specializes in integrating Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance & Targeting (C4ISR&T) technologies into maritime platforms, applications and systems. “We have been building solutions for our clients that extend AWS cloud storage and compute capabilities for C4ISR&T on ships at the tactical edge,” said Fernando A. Cancel III, CEO of Duchancell, a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business. “AWS Snowball Edge has proven itself as a highly secure method for large data transfer with the power of Amazon S3 and Amazon EC2 computing on-board. The addition of block storage on Snowball Edge opens up a lot of opportunity for us to innovate and bring new applications to our clients where they need them – on the open ocean and connected to the cloud.”

In the application development market, Monkton helps enterprises rapidly build safe, secure, and compliant mobile solutions, adhering to the strictest security standards, NSA NIAP and Common Criteria. “Our goal is to help civilian and defense agencies, and their software development partners, get highly secure applications into the hands of their mobile users in weeks, not years, with our Mission Mobility program and Rebar,” said, Harold Smith III, CEO of Monkton, Inc. “AWS Snowball Edge is an essential tool to help field-based users securely collect the data they need, view it, analyze it and rapidly take action. That could be working with videos of vehicle movements happening on the other side of a mountain range or understanding real-time sensor data from disaster areas or fire-prone forests. Having persistent, high-performance block storage on Snowball Edge devices certainly makes it easier to develop applications that we know will deliver under harsh conditions.”

A Snowball Edge user, PIXIA Corp. specializes in delivering geospatial capabilities to a diverse group of US Government customers, both as enterprise-wide, cloud-based solutions, and in standalone expeditionary kits for use in austere and bandwidth constrained environments. “For our government clients’ mission-critical operations, field solutions must deploy quickly, require minimal training, and be easy to administer,” said Michael Coleman, Senior Manager, Federal Programs at PIXIA. “Through our work with AWS, PIXIA has worked to enable geospatial data services in a flexible, easily portable form factor. Our advanced IO engine and web-based visualization tools, when paired with AWS’s Snowball Edge technology, create a self-contained device for rapidly delivering high resolution imagery and terrain data to hundreds of users concurrently. We’re using the increased compute and block storage resources of the Snowball Edge Compute Optimized device to deliver more robust capabilities, enabling data collected via manned and unmanned tactical sensors to be processed, published and exploited within hours of collection. By reducing overall cost, footprint, and setup time, and expanding onboard processing power, AWS and PIXIA have brought enterprise-level geospatial tools to the tactical edge.”

Block storage is available on all new Snowball Edge orders today, and stay tuned as we continue to deliver capabilities to meet you where you are today, physically and technologically. Build on!

Wayne W. Duso, Vice President, AWS File, Edge, and Data Services

Wayne W. Duso, Vice President, AWS File, Edge, and Data Services

Wayne is a Vice President at Amazon Web Services (AWS) where he leads businesses delivering cloud infrastructure services. In 2013, Wayne founded and continues to lead the AWS Boston regional development center. Wayne is a curious entrepreneur who is passionate about building innovative teams and businesses that deliver highly disruptive value to customers. Wayne loves engaging the people who build and deliver customer-obsessed solutions, and the customers realizing the value from those solutions. Wayne holds over 35 patents in distributed and highly-available computer systems, digital video processing, and file systems.