As any IT person knows and likely learned the hard way, you pay for every bit of data you transmit back and forth to your cloud provider. So, what do you do if you want to put a few petabytes in the cloud? The bill could hit the thousands of dollars, and it will take days to transfer it all—even under ideal circumstances.
Amazon introduced a decidedly low-tech but practical solution two years ago called Snowball. It was a storage appliance they shipped to you, which you connected to your data center network, transferred all the data at very high speeds, then sent the device back to an Amazon data center, where they transferred the data for you. It’s reminiscent of the old Sneakernet, but it worked.
Now, Google has introduced something similar. The Google Transfer Appliance is similar in concept to Snowball but different in design and operation. For starters, the Transfer Appliance is designed to be mounted in a standard 19-in. data center rack, fitting in just like a server, while the Snowball looks more like a PC tower with the most ruggedized case design I have ever seen.
Google also gives you a lot more capacity. It offers two Transfer Appliances, a 2U device with 100TB capacity and a 4U design with 480TB in capacity. Snowball comes in 50TB and 80TB options, although if you need more, Amazon will send the AWS Snowmobile to your data center.
The Google service costs between $3 to $3.75 per terabyte, depending on which version of the appliance you choose. You’re also responsible for shipping the Transfer Appliance using FedEx, which will run you a hefty $500 for the 100TB model and $900 for the 480TB one.
That all may seem like a lot of effort both online and offline, but Google makes the point that if you were to transfer 1 petabyte of data at 100mbps, it would take 1,095 days. Using Transfer Appliance, it takes 43 days, allowing for your own data transfer, shipping, and Google’s part in importing your data.
And in case you are concerned with data being compromised, the Transfer Appliance encrypts data when it is being loaded in your data center, then decrypts it when it arrives at the Google data center and is offloaded to your storage system in the Google Cloud.