If it's true that everyone likes newspapers and sausages but no one wants to see either one being made, then perhaps we'll have to add Amazon Web Services into that mix: for uploading very large data files, a new AWS service lets clients bypass the Internet and transfer the data to AWS the old-fashioned way: a physical package moving through the physical world. Who knew?Called AWS Import/Export, the limited beta program "accelerates moving large amounts of data into and out of AWS using portable storage devices for transport," the AWS website says. "For significant data sets, AWS Import/Export is often faster than Internet transfer and more cost effective than upgrading your connectivity."
Here's how Anders Bylund described it over at MotleyFool.com: "After hearing repeated complaints from customers on the sluglike experience of uploading multiple terabytes of data to their Amazon cloud-computing accounts, Amazon has launched a beta service that lets you send in a data-packed hard drive by mail.
"As anachronistic as that may sound, it takes days to upload very large data sets even over a very fast, business-grade Internet connection. And for a small business with e-commerce aspirations, a single terabyte of digital video or product information can suck up two weeks of transfer time. Better, then, to stick a hard drive or 70 into a FedEx or UPS package and overnight it to Amazon's drop-ship centers, where it'll take about five hours to commit the data to an S3 storage bucket."
Imagine that - the cloud has feet of clay. Or, via the anecdote Bylund used to open his article, " "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway," said famed computer scientist Andrew Tanenbaum, way back in the early days of worldwide networking."
Amazon says the limited beta program currently supports only the importing of data into Amazon S3 buckets in the U.S.; AWS plans to add export service and EU buckets "in the coming months."
The AWS site does a great job of demystifying the process of transferring data offline instead of online, and I must admit I had to read these simple instructions a few times before I began to recall how things operated back in the physical world. But if it really is this easy, its sounds like a pretty good deal for companies looking to ramp up their cloud activities:
To use the AWS Import/Export beta you simply: • Copy your data to a portable storage device. • Email data loading instructions to AWS in a simple manifest file that includes your Amazon S3 bucket, AWS Access Key ID, and return shipping address. You'll receive an e-mail back with a unique identifier for the job. • Securely identify and authenticate the device by digitally signing your manifest file and job identifier with your AWS Secret Access Key and placing that signature file on the device. • Ship your device along with its interface connectors, power supply and a packing slip to AWS.
When your package arrives at AWS, it will be processed and securely transferred to an AWS data center, where it will be attached to an AWS Import/Export station. Your data load typically begins the next business day after arrival at AWS.
After the data load completes, the device will be detached and returned to you via standard ground shipping.
AWS said the service can be practical for data migration, offsite backup, direct data interchange, and disaster recovery. Pricing includes $80 per storage device handled, $2.49 per data-loading hour, standard Amazon S3 Request and Storage rates, and no charge for data transferred between AWS Import/Export and Amazon S3.