What is AWS Snowball?

AWS Snowball is a service offered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) that facilitates the secure and efficient transfer of large amounts of data between on-premises environments and the AWS cloud. It is particularly designed to address challenges associated with moving massive datasets that may be impractical to transfer over the internet due to bandwidth limitations, security concerns, or time constraints.

Here's a technical breakdown of AWS Snowball:

  1. Physical Appliance:
    • AWS Snowball is a physical hardware appliance in the form of a ruggedized, tamper-resistant, and secure shipping container.
    • The device is equipped with multiple layers of security, including an E Ink shipping label, a touch-screen display for local management, and a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) for secure boot and encryption.
  2. Storage Capacity:
    • The Snowball device comes in two variants: Snowball and Snowball Edge. The capacity of Snowball ranges from 50 terabytes to 80 terabytes, while the Snowball Edge can have even higher capacities (up to 100 TB) and additional computing capabilities (compute instances) to perform processing on the device itself.
  3. Data Transfer:
    • Customers can use the Snowball device to transfer large volumes of data from their on-premises data centers to AWS.
    • The data transfer process involves connecting the Snowball device to the local network, copying the data onto the device, and then shipping the device to an AWS data center. AWS then uploads the data from the Snowball to the designated S3 bucket.
  4. Security Features:
    • Snowball employs multiple layers of security to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of the data during transit.
    • Data on the Snowball device is encrypted using 256-bit encryption. Customers can manage the encryption keys, ensuring that only authorized parties can access the data.
    • The devices are designed with physical security in mind, with features such as tamper-evident packaging and sensors to detect and respond to any attempts at tampering.
  5. Integration with AWS:
    • Once the Snowball device reaches the AWS data center, the data is automatically imported into the specified Amazon S3 bucket.
    • Customers can track the status of their Snowball jobs through the AWS Management Console or by using the Snowball API.
  6. Snowball Edge Features (Optional):
    • Snowball Edge includes additional compute resources (EC2 instances) that can be used to perform data processing tasks on the device itself before transferring the data to AWS.
    • It also supports edge computing scenarios, enabling the running of AWS Lambda functions, EC2 instances, and other AWS services in disconnected environments.