AWS Snowball Edge

AWS Snowball Edge is a physical appliance intended to help an enterprise migrate large volumes of data into and off of the AWS public cloud. The device also provides local compute processing and storage capabilities -- something that sets it apart from the AWS Snowball appliance, which is purely for data transfers.

How AWS Snowball Edge works

Snowball Edge is sold as a 100-terabyte, rack-mountable piece of hardware. A user can request one or multiple Snowball Edge devices from AWS, based on the amount of data it wants to process or transfer. The device arrives with preconfigured Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) buckets and Lambda functions based on user-specified requirements.

An enterprise then connects Snowball Edge to a local network and unlocks the device. Next, it can transfer local data onto the appliance through either a Network File System (NFS) interface or an S3-compatible endpoint. Alternatively, it's possible to copy local data onto the device through the Snowball client.

All data on the device is protected with 256-bit encryption.

After the data is transferred onto the device, an enterprise ships the device to an AWS facility. It's possible to track a Snowball Edge shipment through either emails or texts generated by Amazon, or via the AWS Management Console.

All Snowball Edge devices must be used and shipped within the same AWS geographic region. The device cannot transfer data between regions.

AWS Snowball Edge compute and storage features

In addition to data import and export, an enterprise can use Snowball Edge to provide local compute processing and storage capabilities for edge computing workloads. In addition to remote offices, the device's durable form factor makes it a good fit to provide these capabilities in harsh environments, such as an oil and gas rig or manufacturing facility that might be part of an internet of things (IoT) deployment.

According to AWS, Snowball Edge provides compute capabilities that are roughly equivalent to its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) m4.4xlarge instance type. The device also enables a user to run AWS Lambda code to locally process and analyze data, and doesn't require a connection to any other compute or storage resources to perform these tasks.

If a user requires more compute or storage capacity, it's possible to use a cluster of multiple Snowball Edge devices. A company can order a Snowball Edge cluster through the AWS Snowball API, AWS Software Development Kit (SDK), AWS Management Console or AWS CLI.

The device also comes with a pre-loaded version of AWS Greengrass that an enterprise can use to run Python-based Lambda functions. With Greengrass Core software on Snowball Edge, an enterprise can create customized Lambda functions to locally process data as it writes to the Edge device, among other uses.

AWS Snowball Edge pricing and availability

Snowball Edge is available in all U.S. and EMEA regions, but only in select Asia-Pacific regions.

AWS charges a flat fee of $300 for Snowball Edge, plus shipping. The flat rate includes 10 days of Snowball Edge use on-site. For every additional day of use beyond that, the user is billed $30 per day.

While a user is not charged for data transfer into AWS, standard S3 data storage fees do apply. Data transfers out of AWS begin at $0.03 per gigabyte.

This was last updated in June 2018

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