AWS Import Export

AWS Import Exports enables the acceleration of large amounts of data into and out of AWS using physical storage devices, bypassing the Internet. AWS Import Export is, therefore, a service designed to overcome the limitations of Internet bandwidth and comes with two core features namely, AWS Snowball and AWS Import/Export Disk.   AWS Snowball is the newer version of the previously widely used Import/Exports Disk services and will feature in the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate Exam.  Follow these exam tips to help you understand key points that will most likely come up on the exam.

AWS Import Export Disk

AWS Import Export Disk uses portable devices, which you purchase to help you transfer data between AWS Cloud and your on-premise storage. The AWS Import Export services are designed to work with 16TB of data or less and enable you to import directly into:

  • Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3)
  • Amazon Glacier
  • Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS)
  • AWS Import Export Disk enables you to export from S3

Core Features

Using AWS Import Export Disk provides the following functionality:

  • Migrate up to 16 TB of data per job into the AWS Cloud
  • Content Distribution – Export of data from S3 to disk to be distributed to clients
  • Direct Data Interchange
  • Off-Site Backup—Send full or incremental backups to Amazon S3 for reliable and redundant offsite storage.
  • Disaster Recovery—In the event you need to quickly retrieve a large backup stored in Amazon S3, you can use AWS Import/Export to transfer the data to a portable storage device and deliver it to your site


Amazon Snowball

AWS Snowball (Snowball), a new feature of AWS Import Export, is generally faster and cheaper to use than Disk for importing data into Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3).  AWS Snowball is an Amazon Disk Appliance that comes with an enclosure unit designed for security. You can use Snowball to help accelerate petabyte scale data into and out of AWS.

Key Features include:

  • Faster Data Transfers – The device comes with an RJ-45 as well as SPF with either fibre or copper interface.
  • Encryption – AWS Snowball automatically encrypts data with 256-bit encryption that is managed by AWS Key Management Service (KMS)
  • Tamper Resistant – The AWS Snowball appliance comes with a tamper-resistant seal and built-in Trusted Platform Module that uses a dedicated processor to detect any unauthorised modification to hardware, firmware or software.
  • End to End Tracking – AWS Snowball uses E Ink shipping label to ensure that the appliance is shipped to the correct AWS facility. Tracking is carried our via Amazon SNS, text messages and the AWS Console
  • Secure Erasure – Once transfer jobs are complete, AWS will perform a software erasure of the Snowball appliance following National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) guidelines for media sanitization
  • Programmable – AWS Snowball supports APIs that enable customers and partners to integrate their applications with Snowball


Amazon Snowball Edge

AWS Snowball Edge is a new service that provides a 100 TB data transfer device with onboard storage and compute capabilities. In addition to transferring data to AWS, Snowball Edge can be used to provide compute processing services. Some Features include:

  • An Amazon S3-compatible endpoint on the device.
  • Network File System (NFS) Support
  • A cluster mode where multiple Snowball Edge devices can act as a single, scalable storage pool with increased durability.
  • Run AWS Lambda powered by AWS Greengrass functions as data is copied to the device.

With an AWS Snowball Edge appliance,  all encryption happens on the appliance. Two main use cases for Snowball Edge are

  • Local storage and compute – You can use one AWS Snowball Edge appliance, or create a cluster of appliances.   You can trigger Lambda functions depending on Amazon S3 storage actions made on an AWS Snowball Edge appliance. These Lambda functions are associated with an AWS Snowball Edge appliance during job creation.
  • Transfer large amounts of data into and out of Amazon S3 –  AWS Snowball Edge appliance can be used to transfer many terabytes or petabytes of data between Amazon S3 and your local environment, bypassing the Internet.

Key Exam Tips

  • AWS Snowball can help you securely and quickly transfer terabytes to many petabytes of data to AWS
  • AWS Snowball has 10Gbps network interfaces with RJ45, SFP+ copper, and SFP+ optical network ports
  • AWS Snowballs are designed to be used within a region and may not be shipped to locations outside of those regions. Snowball devices used for imports or exports to EU (Ireland) and EU (Frankfurt) regions may be shipped to any of the 28 EU countries.
  • 50TB models are only available in USA regions
  • you connect the AWS Snowball appliance to your network and set the IP address using the E Ink display, you’ll need to download three things from the AWS Management Console:
    • Snowball Client which is a tool used to transfer data from your on-premise storage to AWS Snowball
    • Job Manifest File – an encrypted file that is used to uniquely identify you data transfer job
    • Job manifest unlock code – a 25 character code to unlock the job manifest file
    • Currently, AWS Snowball only works with S3
  • When your data transfer job has been completed and verified, AWS performs a software erasure of the Snowball appliance that follows the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
  • AWS Snowball is an HIPAA compliant now.


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