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Microsoft Answers AWS Snowball with Azure Data Box

Microsoft has joined rivals Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) in providing customers with an appliance to physically transfer large volumes of data from their on-premises environments to the cloud.

The new Azure Data Box appliance, unveiled last week at Microsoft's Ignite conference, is now available in public preview for both customer organizations and Microsoft ISV partners based in the United States.

Similar to AWS Snowball, the Azure Data Box is a ruggedized appliance that companies can use as a sort of digital briefcase to transfer large amounts of data from their datacenters to the Azure cloud. Users rent an appliance from Microsoft, connect it to their network, transfer their data into the appliance and ship it back to Microsoft, which will then upload the data to Azure. The entire process is designed to reduce the time it takes to migrate terabytes or petabytes worth of data to the cloud, which can take months when done over the air.

Each Azure Data Box weighs 45 pounds, supports 256-bit AES data encryption and has room for up to 100TB of data. It also integrates with solutions from several Microsoft partners, including Commvault, Veeam, Veritas and NetApp, to "seamlessly leverage offline transport to the cloud," according to Microsoft's announcement.

The Azure Data Box opens another front in the competition between Microsoft and AWS, which launched its own cloud migration appliance, dubbed Snowball, back in 2015. The original Snowball appliance comes in 50TB and 80TB configurations and is capable of both data transfers and exports to and from the AWS cloud.

AWS dramatically beefed up the product late last year with the introduction of Snowball Edge, which has capacity for 100TB of data, and the truck-sized Snowmobile, which is essentially a shipping container that can move 100PB of data.

GCP also has its own physical data transfer service called Transfer Appliance, which it introduced this past July as a beta. A single Transfer Appliance comes in either 100TB or 480TB configurations.

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for RCPmag.com and senior editor of AWSInsider.net.

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