Extending the Hybrid Cloud with AWS Snowball Edge

Over the past few years I’ve enjoyed watching as each public cloud provider continues to seek ways to apply their SaaS-y wares to customer data centers and edge locations. Perhaps the most notable have been VMware Cloud on AWS and Microsoft Azure with Azure Stack. Each offers a different approach to consuming cloud services, on-boarding your applications (and related data), and managing workloads.

Recently, I was listening in as Amazon announced the ability to run EC2 instances on AWS Snowball Edge. In a nutshell, this is Sneakernet on steroids – the ability to ship out a small form factor compute and storage device to the location desired, run workloads against your on-premises data, and then ultimately ship that data back to Amazon to be ingested into your AWS environment. As per Amazon:

You can order Snowball Edge with just a few clicks in the AWS Management Console. It arrives with your S3 buckets, clustering configuration, and Lambda code or EC2 AMIs pre-installed. Once the appliance arrives, connect it to your local network and set the IP address either manually or with DHCP. Finally, unlock the Snowball Edge device and start copying data. Once the appliance is ready to be returned, the E Ink shipping label automatically updates and you can track the job status via Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS) generated text or email messages, or directly in the Console. (source)

Today, the primary use cases for Snowball Edge revolve around data movement and local data processing without the need for an Internet connection – verticals such as shipping, mining, and geographically isolated distribution are the focus. However, this seems like the first step (of many) towards constructing a more semi-permanent hybrid cloud fabric in which a stable link is constructed between a data center or co-location and a cluster of multiple Snowball Edge (or similar) devices are pooled for running EC2 instances, Lambada functions, and other AWS services. You can read more about the specifics of requesting an Edge device from Jeff Barr over at the AWS News Blog.

If you’d like to hear more about AWS from industry experts, check out our healthy list of growing AWS-centric Datanauts Podcast episodes! I’ll highlight a few to get you started: