The Stack Archive News Article

Microsoft previews 100TB Azure Data Box for physical transfer to cloud

Wed 27 Sep 2017

Microsoft is releasing the Azure Data Box to allow customers to physically transfer large data loads to the cloud.

As Microsoft notes, transferring huge amounts of data to the cloud can be difficult. Customers that have time or cost limitations, or reduced network availability, are likely to struggle to transfer terabytes of data over the internet.

The Azure Data Box lets customers bypass that potential problem, by connecting the box to their existing network, loading the data onto the box, then shipping it to an Azure data centre. The process is secured through 256-AES encryption during data loading, and password protection. After the data is uploaded to Azure, Microsoft promises it will be securely erased.

Microsoft describes the box as ‘secure and ruggedized’; that is to say, the 20kg box can take a beating. It has also worked with a number of partners with ‘deep experience’ in transferring data, as a support system for customers looking to use the product. Those partners include well-known names such as NetApp and Rubrik.

This is not the first time a major cloud provider has provided this solution. Though this box has a capacity of 100TB, some clients will have data that reaches into the exabytes – for instance, those with large video or image libraries, particularly satellite imagery.

As such, Amazon Web Services (AWS) last year released its Snowmobile – an articulated truck that carries a shipping container for ‘exabyte-scale data transfer.’ The Snowmobile gets driven to a customer’s data centre and connected via a high-speed network switch.

As well as industry standard security protocols, the truck comes with GPS tracking, security personnel, and an optional security vehicle while travelling. AWS also provides boxes similar to Azure’s, with 50 and 80TB ‘Snowball’ options.

The Azure Data Box hasn’t been released just yet, but it is available for public preview. Microsoft tested the product on Oceaneering International ships, which collect vast amounts of data each day but aren’t always connected to the internet.


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