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Amazon cloud welcomes airplanes of data

Send 747 through mail, please

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Amazon's cloud is infinitely large. At least in theory. But bandwidth to the cloud is not. If you like, you could upload a full terabyte of data to that data center in the sky. But even over a T1 connection, it would take you a good 80 days.

Amazon realizes that's a long time, so it's now giving you the option of sending your data via mail. Not email - mail mail.

Over at the Amazon Web Services blog, the company has unveiled a new service it calls AWS Import/Export. You mail in your storage device, and Amazon uploads all that data for you.

"Customers with AWS storage requirements at the terabyte and petabyte level often ask us if they can sidestep the internet and simply send us a disk drive, or even a 747 full of such drives," writes Amazon cloud guru Jeff Barr. "I can now say 'Yes, you can!'"

That would be a Boeing 747.

At the moment, Import/Export is a limited beta. And Amazon is only accepting drives with USB 2.0 or eSATA connectors, formatted in FAT32, ext2, ext3, or NTFS. The cloud is set to handle sub-50-pound drives that fit into an 8U rack - but if you ask, it may accommodate other drives.

Barr even says you can ship a SAN. But give him a call first.

Amazon won't upload unreadable files or files larger than 5GB. But it'll send you a log file letting you know what was rejected and what wasn't. And when it's finished, it'll send your drive back home at no expense.

Security? You can encrypt your files but not your file systems. And Amazon says it's trustworthy: "We track custody of your device from the time it arrives in our mailroom until it is shipped back to you. All personnel involved in the process have undergone extensive background checks."

You can sign up for the beta here. It's only available in the US, but Amazon plans on expanding to Europe "in the near future."

Currently, Import/Export doesn't do exports. But it will. Downloading a terabyte takes just as long. ®

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