What's intriguing about this model is the way it combines standard shipping with the new promises of the cloud. According to the official Amazon blog, migrating data directly to the cloud can be time-consuming.
The Snowmobile would start by "filling up" with data, almost like an oil tanker, before making the trek to the Web Service itself. A single Snowmobile can reportedly import data over the course of 10 days, transferring data at a rate of 1 terabyte per second. The goal is to simplify logistics for the possibly daunting prospect of the mainframe update, and given Amazon's presence in tech, it's possible to see this as a trendsetter for other similar-minded businesses.
To see this model truly take off, though, Snowmobile and other projects will have to answer certain fundamental questions. Although Amazon still has yet to reveal more information about this process, there are some important things to ask early on to help companies determine if this is right for them:
- Who will benefit? As Bloomberg's commentary recently pointed out, this service is really only beneficial for a specific subsection of businesses, at least for now. The ideal client will have enough data storage needs to demand this kind of high-level transport in the first place. Amazon also clarified that "this is not a self-serve product," meaning that it would involve working with Amazon specifically and slowly from initial consulting to uploading to shipping and migration.
- What will the cost be? As of this writing, the company had not released an official pricing plan. However, Bloomberg said the Snowmobile storage would cost $.005 per gigabyte per month. Since a petabyte equals 1 million gigabytes, just 1 percent of the Snowmobille's storage could cost $5,000 every month, according to these figures. While it's useful to examine this pricing beforehand, we also need to prepare for the actual rates to shift once it becomes common, if it indeed does. Again, the companies that need this service in the first place may already be more likely to use it.
- How will the shipments be secured? This is a significant issue, with all forms of shipments facing threats during transit. Amazon says that the truck will be reinforced, but logistics operations face digital threats as well as physical ones. To stay truly ahead of the curve, businesses will have to be ready to evolve to meet new standards.