In The Era Of The Cloud, Why Are We Still Shipping Hard Drives?

I’m sitting in my office right now, thinking about what I’m going to do with the 100GB of photos on my laptop here. I want to get them into the cloud where they’ll be backed up and I can share them with my family. But that seems like a lot of bits to transfer. So I ran a Speedtest and apparently, I’ve got a 10Mbps uplink to the Internet – just a sliver of my download speed, which is about 5 times that.


So here’s the question at hand: how long is it going to take me to get all these photos into the cloud?

Or more directly: is 10Mbps enough bandwidth?

This is exactly the same question that any company looking to migrate its data into the cloud is going to ask. At Tervela, we think about this a lot; our Cloud FastPath product was built for massive data movement to and from the cloud. Obviously, you can always buy a bigger pipe from your Internet Service Provider. But at some point, when it comes to migrating large amounts of data, you are going to max out. So what do you do then?

The State Of The Art for Large File Transfers is… Fedex?

Let’s say I need to transfer a lot of files to the cloud. Perhaps I’m migrating an entire directory to Citrix ShareFile, or Box, or I’m backing up a tree to Amazon Web Services. How much does 10Mbps get me? How long will it take to complete that transfer?

It turns out Amazon has a service called Amazon Import/Export, which they describe as follows:

“If you have large amounts of data to load and an Internet connection with limited bandwidth, the time required to prepare and ship a portable storage device to AWS can be a small percentage of the time it would take to transfer your data over the internet.” (Emphasis added by me.)

And there it is. You want to get your files into the cloud? Mail us a hard drive.

Really? A Hard Drive?

It’s hard to believe that in this day and age, a UPS truck is faster than the Internet. It’s kind of unbelievable.

And check out this table from Amazon, which is a guide to help you decide when is the right time to consider the delivery truck option. Also, when you are reading this, note that the middle column represents a theoretical minimum, based on 80% network utilization. That doesn’t leave much room for normal business… so you’ve got to take those numbers into account as well.

Available Internet Connection Theoretical Min. Number of Days to Transfer 1TB at 80% Network Utilization When to Consider AWS Import/Export?
T1 (1.544Mbps) 82 days 100GB or more
10Mbps 13 days 600GB or more
T3 (44.736Mbps) 3 days 2TB or more
100Mbps 1 to 2 days 5TB or more
1000Mbps Less than 1 day 60TB or more

So here we have a hopeful estimate that tell me, at my current network speed, it would take 13 days to transfer 1 TB of information into the cloud. For my 100GB of photos, that’s almost a day and a half, using my network to near-full capacity. Guess I won’t be watching anything on Netflix this weekend! Plus, this all assumes that there are no errors along the way where I need to restart the transfer. Because file transfers always go smoothly and without incident. (Can you hear the sarcasm I’m trying to lay down?)

The Absurdity of Transferring Files By Truck

I’m going to take a guess and say that your business moves pretty fast, and it’s hard to imagine a moment where files aren’t in a state of flux. So if you are generating lots of data locally that you want to move to the cloud, does this mean you’ve got to ship hard drives every month? Or every week? If all you want to do is archive old data, I suppose this could work, but let’s be honest – the cloud is capable of so much more than that.

This is Why We Invented Cloud FastPath

The thing is, when someone is trying to transfer a large repository of files from one place to another – either in a professional setting or a personal one – it’s a project. You are dealing with critical data, important business processes, and lots of people. The whole experience needs to be properly managed and orchestrated to make it smooth and reliable for all parties.

Cloud FastPath is an automated data migration service that can get your on-premise data into the cloud service of your choice easily, quickly, and securely. We’ve put in place a set of features and security that make Cloud FastPath the perfect solution:

  1. It’s managed from the cloud, because that’s where you want it to be.
  2. It connects easily to your local file servers, and to the destination in the cloud – in a couple of clicks.
  3. It contains intelligent compression and error-handling, so that you can just let the application do the work
  4. It pushes data into the cloud without any intermittent staging, so your data only touches the servers you want it to
  5. It alerts you when it’s done, and keeps any changes in sync.

The Information Superhighway Is NOT An Actual Highway

Personally, I think it’s unnecessary for cloud providers to give customers the option of shipping a hard drive. I’m going to guess that you think so to.

And that’s exactly why Cloud FastPath exists. Try it out!