AWS Brings Storage, Management Perks to Snowball Edge Devices


Amazon Web Services this week described multiple enhancements to its Snowball line of data transfer devices, particularly the Snowball Edge.

First introduced at the 2016 re:Invent conference, Snowball Edge devices have built-in compute and storage capabilities that make them ideal for environments where connectivity is either very poor or nonexistent (for instance, remote work sites or ships). There are two flavors of Snowball Edge: Snowball Edge Compute Optimized for data-heavy workloads like machine learning and video analysis, and Snowball Edge Storage Optimized for high-volume data transfers and migrations.

The Snowball Edge Storage Optimized devices have been updated to transfer data 25 percent faster, AWS announced Thursday. Their capacity has also expanded from 24 vCPUs and 48GB of memory to 40 vCPUs and 80GB of memory. The refreshed devices run at 3.2 GHz, have access to 1TB of SATA SSD storage and support 100 Gigabit networking.

Also announced Thursday is support for AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) in Snowball Edge. This gives administrators better controls over what permissions users have for the applications running on Snowball Edge devices.

“You can now use user-based IAM policies to control access to services and resources running on Snowball Edge devices,” explained AWS chief evangelist Jeff Barr in a blog post. “If you have multiple users with access to the same device, you can use IAM policies to ensure that each user has the appropriate permissions.”

A third new feature is a graphical management platform for Snowball devices called AWS OpsHub for Snow Family. Previously, Snowball users managed their devices via a command-line interface or REST APIs. The new OpsHub app gives users a drag-and-drop dashboard where they can unlock, configure and launch multiple Snowball devices at once.

OpsHub can run even without an Internet connection, making it ideal for “mobile and disconnected modes” and “high-security environments,” according to Barr.

Finally, AWS is giving users the ability to automate common Snowball Edge tasks via AWS Systems Manager. This feature taps the new OpsHub console to let users write and execute PowerShell or Python scripts, which “can include any operations supported on the device,” according to AWS.

“When these scripts are executed, AWS OpsHub will automatically execute the defined operations. These automated scripts can also be presented as actions listed in customizable drop-down menus.”

More information on Snowball Edge is available here.

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for, and