Amazon now supports data export from its S3 storage cloud onto customers’ removable hard drives.
Amazon first opened up this “sneakernet” for import/upload to the Amazon cloud earlier this spring, allowing customers with large data sets to send the data to Amazon on removable media rather than trying to migrate the data over an Internet connection. This most recent announcement means users can extract data from the cloud using this method, too.
At the time of the first announcement, Amazon bloggers referenced the quote that immediately jumped to my mind reading about the export feature: “Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway.”
Amazon is far from the first or only cloud storage vendor to use seeding devices to get large data sets into the cloud rather than trying to squish terabytes through the average broadband Internet connection. Indeed, this network bottleneck is considered one of the biggest barriers to cloud computing adoption to date, and cloud backup vendors including EMC’s Mozy already send out seeding devices to upload or restore terabytes of data.
Companies such as NetEx are also offering software that promises to cut down on bandwidth between service providers and consumers downloading large, say, video files from centralized data centers. Others, including Cleversafe, are proposing to split data into chunks and among multiple sites to cut down on bandwidth and preserve data security.
So far, however, for the largest data sets — as this Amazon announcement demonstrates — nobody’s quite beaten the highway.