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From Tamper resistant to Cost-effectiveness: AWS Snowball Brings technology to the Adroit Edge

From Tamper resistant to Cost-effectiveness: AWS Snowball Brings technology to the Adroit Edge

‘’We want to move 250 PBs into AWS, but it would take years to do that over the network. You must be thinking as how can we upload our data faster into AWS?’’. Data is growing at a tremendous pace! It seems it would take 2 years for 100TB or 22 years for 1 PB over the internet or so on. 

Today’s data-heavy IT environments mean that information often needs to be transferred from one place to another. Snowball is designed to make such transfers easy without incurring astronomical network usage fees. Instead of paying a high-priced developer to write code to push a transfer, admins simply move data using the Snowball appliance, with no limits.

AWS Snowball is a petabyte-scale data transport solution that used to migrate analytics data, genomics data, video libraries, image repositories, backups and secure appliances to transfer large amounts of data into and out of the AWS cloud.

‘’Do you know If AWS Snowball is a hardware or not and if yes!! then how much storage it provides for data transfer or does the snowball support service API access or not’’-- So, let’s dive into the answer of these questions one after the another. 

Amazon’s Snowball is a hardware and provides a large amount of space around hundreds of terabytes and petabytes of data. It also supports API access and provides programmatic access to the job creation and management features of a Snowball. It is a simple, standards-based REST web service interface, designed to work with any Internet development environment. Snowball support 10Gbps network interfaces with RJ45, SFP+ copper, and SFP+ optical network ports.

Speeding Up Data Transfer

In general, you can improve the transfer speed from your data source to the Snowball in the following ways, ordered from largest to smallest positive impact on performance:

  1. Perform multiple copy operations at one time – If your workstation is powerful enough, you can perform multiple snowball cp commands at one time. You can do this by running each command from a separate terminal window, in separate instances of the Snowball client, all connected to the same Snowball.
  1. Copy from multiple workstations – You can connect a single Snowball to multiple workstations. Each workstation can host a separate instance of the Snowball client.
  1. Transfer directories, not files – Because there is overhead for each snowball cp command, we don't recommend that you queue a large number of individual copy commands. Queuing many commands has a significant negative impact on your transfer performance.

AWS Database Migration Service

AWS snowball can migrate data from one cloud to another cloud. AWS Data Migration Services can help you with homogenous migration such as Oracle to Oracle, as well as heterogenous migrations between different database platforms like Oracle or Microsoft SQL server to Amazon Aurora. 

In homogeneous database migrations, the source and target database engines are the same or are compatible like Oracle to Amazon RDS for Oracle, MySQL to Amazon Aurora, MySQL to Amazon RDS for MySQL, or Microsoft SQL Server to Amazon RDS for SQL Server, whereas Heterogenous migration source and target databases engines are different, like in the case of Oracle to Amazon Aurora, Oracle to PostgreSQL, or Microsoft SQL Server to MySQL migrations. 

Let’s quickly parse through some of the features, uses and pros & cons of AWS Snowball and study how it actually Works?

Some of the Key features of AWS Snowball are: 

  • You can import and export data between your on-premises data storage locations and Amazon S3.
  • Snowball has an 80 TB model available in all regions, and a 50 TB model only available in the US regions.
  • Encryption is enforced, protecting your data at rest and in physical transit.
  • You can manage your jobs through the AWS Snowball Management Console, or programmatically with the job management API.
  • You can perform local data transfers between your on-premises data center and a Snowball.
  • These transfers can be done through the Snowball client, a standalone downloadable client, or programmatically using Amazon S3 REST API calls with the downloadable Amazon S3 Adapter for Snowball. 

Pros of AWS Snowball:

  • Snowball is simple, fast, more secure, and can be as little as one-fifth the cost of transferring data via high-speed Internet.
  • With the help of AWS Snowball, you can easily transfer data within a week, no matter how high-speed your internet connection is, it can still take months to transfer larger amount of data.
  • Amazon Snowball includes a ruggedized case designed to be both durable and portable. AWS Snowball is portable as it weighs less than 50 pounds. 

Cons of AWS Snowball:

  • Snowball is not a cure-all
  • AWS Snowball hasn’t solved every data transport problem in the cloud. Often companies struggle with having a data-transfer plan prior to ordering Snowball. Because of this, companies can incur additional and often substantial costs as the appliance remains on-site -- and unused -- for more than 10 days

How Pricing Works for AWS Snowball

  • $200 / job plus shipping 
  • Includes 10 days to fill the device at your site
  • $15 /day after the tenth day on site
  • Standard Amazon S3 charges apply
  • $0.03/GB to transfer data out 
  • $0.00/GB to transfer data in

Example 1: 

  • 40Tb loaded on to 1 Snowball
  • 2 days at your site
  • $200 plus shipping

Example 2:

  • 30 TB loaded on to 1 Snowball
  • 12 days at your site
  • $200 +2*$15/day = $230 plus shipping

Example 3:

  • 140 TB loaded on to 3 Snowball
  • 8 days at your site
  • $200 + 30TB* $0.03/GB = $1,121.60 plus shipping

Follow are some of the Case studies of AWS Snowball:

Case Study: Oregan State University 

Use case 1 

  • Collect and analyse oceanic and coastal images. 
  • 60 TB of data per week
  • Environment and ocean ecosystem research 

Architecture before Snowball: 

  • Transferred data with many small hard drives
  • Expensive and inefficient 

*Snowball helps OSU to migrate TBs of data in days at the best cost. 

Case Study: Capital One (Banking)

Use case 2

Architecture before Snowball

  • Capital One in 2014 make an effort to build the features its customers wanted as quickly as possible hence, the company chose to pursue AWS.
  • To address the needs of security and compliance Capital One built a cloud-risk framework and established a cloud-governance function before moving a single workload to AWS.

Architecture after Snowball

With the help of AWS Capital One brings new products to market in weeks instead of months or years. Thus, the company achieve its most important goal: creating great experiences for its customers.

Case study: Healthcare Industry

  • Typical Hospital’s data repository can exceed 100s of TBs
  • Expensive (time and $$$) to transfer data to AWS
  • How to integrate with solutions like Philips Health suite to provide healthcare professionals with data quickly

How Snowball helps

  • Can transfer data in days instead of weeks
  • Can easily scale to hundreds of hospitals
  • Meets HIPPA requirement

Working of Amazon Snowball

Follow this step to know how AWS Snowball works:

Steps to get started on AWS account:

  1. Go to the tool named Migration and click on Snowball tool mentioned below as one of the options
  2. Click on Create a job
  3. Click on the option of your choices, import into Amazon S3 or Export from Amazon S3 or the last one Local compute and storage only
  4. For importing you need to create an import job, connect the appliance, copy the data to your servers, your data is all set to migrate. Same implies in case of exporting
  5. After the formalities are done once and for all, you can import the data into Amazon Services and can export from Amazon to the other servers.

AWS Snowball Reviews:

As per Gartner’s latest report AWS is rated “A Mature Platform that Keeps Getting Better, the most mature, enterprise-ready provider, with the deepest capabilities for governing a large number of users and resources.” Gartner says it can satisfy the cool kids who want cloud-native and old hands who want to shift traditional workloads to the cloud, in part because independent software vendors have clambered aboard in large numbers. With close to 2000 new features being added each year, it's easy to get lost in all the products and features, but AWS does a good job of culling through the noise and guiding us to some of the most relevant capabilities that will make us successful and not get bogged down and frustrated.


In Nutshell, we have studied Amazon Snowball is good as it provides the best service among the other storage providers. With the help of AWS Snowball, the user can transfer data very quickly along with the security features. The Snowball in AWS additionally helps to cut back weeks to days for the disaster recovery effort. This merely states that the Amazon Snowball alongside the other services performs best.

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