Amazon's new tool for startups is a massive truck

Amazon Web Services Snowmobile. (image: supplied)

Data-hungry startups beware: Amazon says you can drive to the cloud on a truck.

Amazon Web Services drove a 13 metre semi-trailer onto the stage this morning at its re:Invent event in Las Vegas, drawing gasps from the 10,000-strong crowd.

AWS chief executive Andy Jassy then revealed that the massive truck is a new offering named Snowmobile, which will download massive amounts of data — 100 petabytes — from startups to be physically transported into the Amazon cloud.

To imagine how much data 100 petabytes is: Netflix, with all its video content, this year finished migrating “tens of petabytes” held in “tens of thousands of servers” to the Amazon cloud, according to Ars Technica. The human brain is estimated to hold 2.5 petabytes of data.

The truck service is aimed at “data-hungry” startups and companies that need to move exabytes (1000s of petabytes) into the cloud, with Jassy saying: “You’d be surprised how many large enterprises and successful startups… have exabytes of data.”

The Amazon exec also said that with a conventional 10Gbps network connection, it would take 26 years to transfer 1 exabyte, but that it would only take “a little less than six months” using 10 Snowmobile trucks.

Snowmobile, which uses 350KW of power and is capable of sucking in 1TB per second, is available in all AWS regions — including Australia.

Amazon cited DigitalGlobe as an early adopter of the service. The geo-imaging company reportedly used an Amazon truck to move its 16-year satellite image archive, totalling 100 petabytes, to the cloud.

After the presentation, Jassy admitted that the crowd thought he was making a joke when the truck drove onto the stage.

“When the truck first started coming out, people weren’t sure it was real… They thought it was maybe a joke,” he said. “But it’s no joke — it’s something that our customers say that matters and they want.”

The journalist travelled to AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas as a guest of Amazon.

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