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AWS stops selling Snowmobile truck for cloud migrations

Amazon Web Services Snowmobile Truck


HAS from Amazon annual cloud conference in 2016, the company caught the crowd’s attention by driving an 18-wheeler on stage. Andy Jassy, ​​now CEO of Amazon, called it the snowmobile and said the company would use the truck to help customers quickly transfer data to Amazon Web Services facilities.

Less than eight years later, the semi-trailer is out of service.

Since March, AWS has removed Snowmobile from its website and the Amazon unit has stopped offering the service, CNBC has confirmed. AWS’s “Snow Family” webpage now directs users to its other data transport services, including the Snowball Edge, a 50-pound suitcase-sized device that can be equipped with solid state drives rapids, and the smallest Snowcone. .

An AWS spokesperson said in an emailed statement that the company has introduced more cost-effective options for moving data. Customers had to manage power, cooling, network, parking and security when using the Snowmobile service, the spokesperson said.

“Since we launched Snowmobile in 2016, we have launched many other new services and features that have made migrating data to AWS even faster and easier for our customers,” the spokesperson wrote.

An AWS Snowmobile truck appears in a Seattle parking lot in 2019.

Andrew Evers | CNBC

The price of the snowmobile was $0.005 gigabyte per month, not including other costs, according to a page previously posted on the AWS website. For a company with 100 petabytes of data – the capacity of a snowmobile – a transfer job would cost around $500,000 per month.

Amazon’s decision to ax Snowmobile comes as Jassy implements cost cuts across the company to address lackluster sales growth. Amazon has cut more than 27,000 jobs since the end of 2022 and halted projects in the devices and retail units. The cuts have continued this year, with Amazon cutting hundreds of jobs at AWS earlier this month.

Although this is quite common for AWS and its competitors Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform to dispose of products and services, Snowmobile’s disposal stands out for the splashy way it was presented at the company’s Reinvent showcase conference in Las Vegas in late 2016.

Jassy, ​​who headed AWS at the time, was giving his speech to tens of thousands of people in the crowd, when the 18-wheeler joined him on stage.

“We’re going to need a bigger box,” Jassy said, as spectators rushed to raise their smartphones to take photos of the show.

Jassy explained to the crowd why the truck was revolutionary. With a 10 gigabit per second connection, it would take 26 years to move an exabyte, or 1 million terabytes, of data to the cloud, he said. An AWS customer could do the work with 10 snowmobiles in less than six months, he said. Each snowmobile had a capacity of 100 petabytes on the hard drives.

In a blog post coinciding with the launch on November 30, 2016, Amazon cloud evangelist Jeff Barr described Snowmobile as “a rugged, tamper-proof shipping container 45 feet long, 9.6 feet high and 8 feet wide” that “can be parked.” in a covered or uncovered area adjacent to your existing data center.”

Barr helped convey the supposed simplicity of the process with photos of a snowmobile built out of Lego connecting to a corporate data center.

“We intend for Snowmobile to be both faster and less expensive than using a network-based data transfer model,” Barr wrote.

But the product didn’t take off.

A spokesperson for satellite operator Maxar said the company used Snowmobile once in 2017 to move more than 100 petabytes to AWS from its own servers.

“Since then, we have been uploading our images and associated data directly to the cloud,” the spokesperson said.

AWS is still the leader in the giant cloud infrastructure market and generated $90.8 billion in revenue last year, accounting for 16% of Amazon’s total sales. The company spokesperson said that AWS’s Snowball Edge devices, which customers can mail back to Amazon after filling them with data, are smaller than Snowmobile vehicles, cost less and have a faster turnaround time. shorter execution.

There is also the AWS DataSync service for moving data, announced in 2018. Customers generally find sending data to AWS online more cost-effective than using Snowmobile, the company said.

“We couldn’t be more proud of the value Snowmobile has brought to our customers, and we’re happy to see them choosing newer, more efficient technologies,” the spokesperson wrote.

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