What’s the Fastest Way to Move Data from Point A to Point B?

If I had been asked that question just a few moments ago, I would have responded by saying that high speed, dedicated telecommunications technologies would have been the fastest way to move data from one location to another.

As it turns out, if you are talking about moving massive amounts of data, then that would not have been the correct response.

The fastest way to move data from one location to another is by …

truck.

That’s right, the most widely used form of transporting goods from one place to another is also the most effective method for moving data.

That’s why Amazon has introduced Snowmobile, a 45-foot shipping container that is hauled around by tractor trailer. Snowmobile holds 100 petabytes of data. A petabyte is about 1 million gigabytes. Transporting data from companies to cloud providers has become immensely time-consuming as corporate data storage has ballooned from terabytes to petabytes to exabytes, each step a factor of roughly 1,000 larger than the last. (To put an exabyte into perspective, it is the equivalent of 250 million DVDs or one trillion books of 400 pages each.)

Snowmobile is all part of Amazon’s cloud services, known as AWS or Amazon Web Services.

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Amazon plans to drive Snowmobiles to its customers’ offices, extract their data, then cruise to an Amazon facility where the information can be transferred to the cloud-computing network in far less time than it would for so much data to travel over the web.

The company, however, isn’t promising lightning speed. Ten Snowmobiles would reduce the time it takes to move an exabyte from on-premises storage to Amazon’s cloud to a little less than six months, from about 26 years using a high-speed internet connection, by the company’s calculations. That’s a serious improvement!

Last year Amazon introduced a suitcase-sized data-transfer service appliance known as Snowball. Amazon on Wednesday upgraded that gadget, doubling its capacity to 100 terabytes.

Snowmobile and Snowball are part of the retail giant’s bid to woo large corporate customers, who have invested heavily in their own data centers, to move to Amazon’s cloud.

These cloud technologies are just another example of why Amazon is one of my favorite companies. What started as a simple online bookseller is now on the leading edge of many technology advancements, such as cloud services and artificial intelligence. And unlike many other high-tech firms working on emerging technologies, Amazon has found a way to make money from such services. Its cloud service division brings in $12 billion per year of revenue, and I am sure that the Amazon Echo, a great example of applied artificial intelligence, will be a popular item under the Christmas tree this year.

Given how bright the future seems to be for Amazon, I’d love to buy some of its shares. But at a PE of 172, I have trouble justifying such an investment.

So while I won’t be sharing in the profits Amazon will be earning from such technologies, I’ll still benefit as a user of all the great products and services the company offers.

If you’d like to learn more about Snowmobile, here is a link to Amazon’s description of the service.

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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