UPDATED 14:37 EDT / APRIL 16 2020


AWS doubles the performance of its Snowball Edge device and adds new software

Amazon Web Services Inc. today introduced a new version of Snowball Edge, its system for running edge computing workloads and migrating data to the cloud, that features more powerful silicon as well as additional management tools.

AWS launched the first Snowball device in 2015 as a way for enterprises to move large amounts of records to its public cloud. A company could order a system to its data center, load it up with data and ship it to the nearest AWS facility. Snowball Edge (pictured) serves this function as well, but it can also double as an edge computing platform for running applications in environments such as factories and ships.

AWS refreshed the so-called Storage Optimized variant of the device as part of today’s upgrade. The company has added in a 3.2-gigahertz processor that doubles the system’s computing power and provides a total of 40 virtual central processing units, or vCPUs, for local cloud instances. A vCPU is a unit of processing power used by AWS that usually corresponds to one thread in a physical processor core.

The upgraded Snowball Edge also features other hardware improvements. “In addition to the 80 TB of storage for data processing and data transfer workloads, there’s now 1 TB of SATA SSD storage that is accessible to the EC2 instances that you launch on the device,” AWS Chief Evangelist Jeff Barr wrote in a blog post. Companies can combine up to 12 Snowball Edge devices to assemble an edge computing cluster with a petabyte of storage capacity. 

For cloud migration use cases, in turn, the device provides 25% faster data transfer speeds. This is “made possible by a new 100 Gigabit QSFP+ network adapter” in the chassis, Barr detailed.

AWS will ship the upgraded hardware with a number of new software capabilities. There’s now a visual management console administrators can use to perform tasks such as configuring the device, while an integration with AWS’ Systems Manager service makes it possible to write scripts to automate maintenance chores.

Capping off the update is an access control tool meant to boost cybersecurity. According to AWS, it allow companies to manage which user can access what resource in situations where multiple employees are using the same Snowball Edge deployment.

“This is an attempt by AWS to get more infrastructure from on-prem to their cloud,” Marty Puranik, chief executive of cloud hosting solutions provider Atlantic.Net, told SiliconANGLE. “They are working to get better product-market fit, based on customer feedback, of improvements they needed to make. It looks like security and compliance were key in getting adoption of this product going.”

Edge computing is a priority for AWS’ rivals as well. Microsoft Corp. offers Azure Stack appliances companies can deploy on-premises and Google LLC has Global Mobile Edge Cloud, which allows telecommunications customers to run applications not just in its main cloud data centers but also its 130-plus edge locations.

With reporting from Robert Hof

Photo: AWS

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