Amazon Web Services announced today that their AWS Import/Export service to help move data in and out of Amazon S3 would be more widely available. The service was launched in a limited beta in May, and today opens to anyone, along with an API and a web interface so that customers can check on the status of their data transfer.
AWS Import/Export accelerates transferring large amounts of data between the AWS cloud and portable storage devices. These storage devices are mailed to Amazon, bypassing an Internet upload in order to use Amazon's internal high-speed network to move the data.
As Amazon notes, the Internet is insufficient for the transfer of large data sets, and even with a mail-in service, Amazon claims its "Import/Export is often faster than Internet transfer and more cost effective than upgrading your connectivity." As Amazon noted when it announced the service, "it would take over 80 days to upload just 1TB of data over a T1 connection."
The service costs $80 per storage device handled, along with a $2.49 per data-loading-hour fee. Storage devices are returned to the owner after transfer.
Data portability continues to be a concern around cloud computing, and the AWS Import/Export service is a step towards addressing this. But the fact that mailing data to Amazon proves faster than uploading it points to another area that still needs to be addressed: how our broadband capabilities can keep up with our data processing needs.