Amazon Web Services adds global physical data shipping and receiving to cloud computing services

Amazon is setting the standard for cloud computing services.  AWS just announced a beta import/export service to allow 2TB of data to be imported or exported globally from AWS S3.

AWS Import/Export Goes Global

AWS Import/Export is a fast and reliable alternative to sending large volumes of data across the internet. You can send us a blank storage device and we'll copy the contents of one or more Amazon S3 buckets to it before shipping it back to you. Or, you can send us a storage device full of data and we'll copy it to the S3 buckets of your choice.

Until now, this service was limited to US shipping addresses and to S3's US Standard Region. We've lifted both of those restrictions; developers the world over now have access to AWS Import/Export. Here's what's new:

  • Storage devices can now be shipped to an AWS address in the EU for use with S3's EU (Ireland) Region.At this time, devices shipped to our AWS locations in the EU most originate from and be returned to an address within the European Union.

  • Storage devices can be shipped from almost anywhere in the world to a specified AWS address in the US for data loads into and out of buckets in the US Standard Region. Previously, devices could only be shipped from and returned to addresses in the United States.

What would use this for? 

Common Uses for AWS Import/Export

AWS Import/Export makes it easy to quickly transfer large amounts of data into and out of the AWS cloud. You can use AWS Import/Export for:

  • Data Migration – If you have data you need to upload into the AWS cloud for the first time, AWSImport/Export is often much faster than transferring that data via the Internet.

  • Offsite Backup – Send full or incremental backups to Amazon S3 for reliable and redundant offsite storage.

  • Direct Data Interchange – If you regularly receive content on portable storage devices from your business associates, you can have them send it directly to AWS for import into your Amazon S3 buckets.

  • Disaster Recovery – In the event you need to quickly retrieve a large backup stored in Amazon S3, use AWSImport/Export to transfer the data to a portable storage device and deliver it to your site.

When should you consider this service?  AWS answers this as well.

When to Use AWS Import/Export

If you have large amounts of data to load and an Internet connection with limited bandwidth, the time required to prepare and ship a portable storage device to AWS can be a small percentage of the time it would take to transfer your data over the internet. If loading your data over the Internet would take a week or more, you should consider using AWS Import/Export.

Below is a table that gives guidance around common internet connection speeds on: (1) how long it will take to transfer 1TB of data over the Internet into AWS (see the middle column for this estimate); and, (2) what volume of total data will require a week to transfer over the Internet into AWS, and therefore warrant consideration of AWSImport/Export (see the right-hand column). For example, if you have a 10Mbps connection and expect to utilize 80% of your network capacity for the data transfer, transferring 1TB of data over the Internet to AWS will take 13 days. The volume at which this same set-up will take at least a week, is 600GB, so if you have 600GB of data or more to transfer, and you want it to take less than a week to get into AWS, we recommend you using AWSImport/Export.

Available Internet Connection
Theoretical Min. Number of Days to Transfer 1TB at 80% Network Utilization
When to Consider AWSImport/Export?

T1 (1.544Mbps)
82 days
100GB or more

13 days
600GB or more

T3 (44.736Mbps)
3 days
2TB or more

1 to 2 days
5TB or more

Less than 1 day
60TB or more

If anyone can efficiently receive and ship items it is amazon, and it was smart they added this capability to AWS.  We’ll see how long before other cloud computing providers add this service.  My bet is you’ll have to wait a while as few would have thought to set up shipping and receiving in their cloud computing internal network.