Sebastian Anthony (RSS feed) Jun 11th 2010 at 10:00AMAbout 10 years ago I remember reading a section in my Computer Science textbook about data transfers across large distances. This was back when regular users had dial-up modem connections and rich companies had dual-bonded ISDN links. Those were the days!
Anyway, there was one paragraph which stuck in my mind: if you want to send a lot of data somewhere and you don't care about the latency, the easiest solution is to pack a truck full of tapes and drive to the destination.
And today, despite the death of dial-up, that's exactly what Amazon is doing! Instead of uploading data to Amazon's S3 cloud storage via 'slow' Internet links, you can now mail a tape or hard drive to one of Amazon's data centres in Seattle, Virginia, or Dublin. It's called AWS Import/Export, and to use it you pay a one-off fee of $80 per storage device plus $2.49 per hour while the data is sent into the cloud. There's a calculator, if you want to work out the price savings of using the snail-mail system instead of the Internet.
To me this sounds a lot like a stop-gap solution: we're moving vast amounts of data into the cloud, performing more and more tasks remotely, but Internet connection speeds aren't keeping up! We're heading towards a day when the Internet is effectively just an extension of our local storage, our LAN -- and for that to happen, we need LAN-like links to the Internet!
Amazon leverages low-tech FedEx to fix the data transfer across the Internet: Jim Gray anyone?