With AWS Snowball has Amazon just forced your hand in the Big Data Debate?

Image of a snowball with an Amazon logo and a question mark

Posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The most attractive aspect of Cloud computing – the ability to access an infinite amount of storage and processing power for Big Data analysis – has always been something of an insider joke. The advertised capacity certainly exists, but a failsafe, cost-effective way to move large amounts of data from internal datacenters into the Cloud has not.

Until now.

Amazon has recently announced AWS Snowball, a portable storage appliance capable of shifting 100TB of data into their Cloud platform without the usual network bandwidth overheads. Snowball may look like an oversized bulletproof briefcase, but the concept behind the device has the potential to change the Cloud services industry forever, transferring huge amounts of data in less than a week.

In effect, Amazon has overcome the last technical hurdle preventing many businesses from adopting the Cloud for Big Data analytics.

Crunch time

For the risk-averse CIO, Snowball presents further unwelcome pressure from financially-motivated decision makers, blinded by the advertised cost-savings of AWS. Questions of security, control, data sovereignty and the death of the Safe Harbor agreement could be overlooked in an effort to cut costs quickly, despite the fact that Snowball does nothing to address any of these. 

And if the issue of Cloud adoption is to be decided on cost alone, the C-suite may be overlooking another option – existing hardware assets. By repurposing, extending or augmenting storage hardware, businesses may well be able to build their own cost-effective Big Data platform in-house.

Taking this approach ensures that the business retains complete control of data and the underlying platform, control that would otherwise be ceded to Amazon. An in-house, private Cloud infrastructure also helps businesses avoid uncontrolled expenses incurred through the pay-as-you-use resourcing model employed by Amazon AWS.

Amazon Snowball is the latest move by the Cloud industry to lower barriers to entry, and it may well help boost uptake of AWS services over the coming months and years. But for cautious businesses who need to retain complete control of their data and systems, Snowball is no magic bullet.

For further help and advice about repurposing post-warranty hardware, or augmenting private Cloud infrastructure with cost-effective off-lease systems, call +1 866 237 8008.