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Amazon introduced the Snowmobile, an 18-wheeler truck, at its annual cloud conference in 2016 as a way to help customers transfer data to Amazon Web Services facilities with speed and efficiency. However, less than eight years later, the service has been discontinued and removed from AWS’ website. The company has shifted its focus to more cost-effective options for data transport, such as the Snowball Edge and Snowcone devices. Customers previously using the Snowmobile service had to deal with logistical challenges such as power, cooling, networking, parking, and security.

The Snowmobile service was priced at $0.005 per gigabyte per month, making it quite expensive for companies with large data transfer needs. Amazon’s decision to discontinue Snowmobile comes as part of a series of cost-cutting measures implemented by CEO Andy Jassy to address lackluster sales growth. The company has also cut thousands of jobs and discontinued various projects across its units. While it is common for cloud service providers like AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform to phase out products and services, the elimination of Snowmobile stands out due to the grandiose introduction it received at Amazon’s Reinvent conference in 2016.

Andy Jassy, who was leading AWS at the time, introduced the Snowmobile truck to tens of thousands of people at the conference, emphasizing its groundbreaking capabilities. While it would take 26 years to transfer an exabyte of data to the cloud over a 10 gigabit-per-second connection, a customer could accomplish the task with 10 Snowmobiles in under six months. Each Snowmobile had a capacity of 100 petabytes on hard disk drives. Despite the initial hype surrounding the product, it failed to gain traction in the market.

The Snowmobile service was utilized by some companies, including satellite operator Maxar, to transfer large amounts of data to AWS. However, AWS’ spokesperson stated that many customers now prefer using newer and more efficient technologies like Snowball Edge devices and AWS DataSync service for data transfer. The spokesperson highlighted that Snowball Edge devices are smaller, cost-effective, and have a quicker turnaround time compared to Snowmobile vehicles. Customers find online data transfer to AWS generally more economical than using the Snowmobile service.

Despite the discontinuation of Snowmobile, AWS continues to lead the cloud infrastructure market and generated significant revenue for Amazon in the previous year. While the Snowmobile service did not achieve widespread adoption, AWS remains at the forefront of cloud services and offers a range of alternative data transport options to meet customers’ needs. The company is proud of the value that Snowmobile brought to customers but acknowledges the shift towards newer technologies for more efficient data migration to the cloud.

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