We've discussed the benefits of integrating software into logistics, but there are other ways that data and trucking can work together. Data may dwell in the cloud, but it also requires physical storage centers and servers to support modern transactions. Amazon has a plan which could build on this, with a physical transport that will also move data to Amazon's Web Services. Called the Snowmobile, this truck can reportedly secure as much as 100 petabytes of data in a 45-foot container.

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.

Related concerns
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.
Managed IT services are important to address both the present and the future of shipping. Connected systems will likely demand more and more data, which could put emphasis on services like this.
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