Amazon Connects The Cloud To The Postal Service

from the i'd-like-to-send-this-priority-upload,-please dept

Amazon's done a lot with its Web Services offerings to advance the notion of cloud computing, and it's now realized that the state of broadband in the US could do a lot to hold it back. Slow upload speeds could hamper the growth of cloud computing: Amazon's CTO says that to upload a terabyte of data over a 10Mbps connection would take 13 days. So the company is working around that issue by letting people submit data to Amazon Web Services via US Mail. Users send in a storage device with data they want added to the cloud, and when Amazon receives it, the data gets copied over and put online. It's not an ideal solution, but an interesting stopgap until fatter pipes proliferate. Perhaps there are some interesting business ideas here, like setting up local "cloud upload" stations with superfat connections, where companies could drop off their storage devices to have their data uploaded quickly. The issue of slow uploads could pose an obstacle to the wider uptake of cloud computing, and until it's overcome, there will be a necessity for these sorts of solutions.


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  1.  
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    Windowslogy, May 21st, 2009 @ 9:06pm

    Waiting for a superfat connection?

    Regarding a superfat connection, Amazon had better not wait for anyone to implement it. Amazon should go ahead and create its own superfat connections where it focuses on managing its own data first to serve its established customers. Cloud computing is going to be the next target. There are going to be a lot of competitors here, especially the other giants such as Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo.

     

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  2.  
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    Noah Buddy, May 21st, 2009 @ 9:56pm

    Bandwidth

    This story reminds me of an old copyright infringement joke that goes something to the affect of "Don't underestimate the bandwidth of a truck load of burnt CD's sent from Mexico"

     

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  3.  
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    WulfTheSaxon (profile), May 21st, 2009 @ 9:59pm

    station wagon full of tapes

    “Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway.”

     

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  4.  
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    WulfTheSaxon (profile), May 21st, 2009 @ 10:00pm

    Re: Bandwidth

    heh, beaten to the post :P

     

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  5.  
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    Daz, May 21st, 2009 @ 11:09pm

    love this

    reminds me of my CS Professor at Uni "the BANDWIDTH of the sneakernet was huge, it just had terrible THROUGHPUT"

     

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  6.  
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    תוכנית-עסקית, May 22nd, 2009 @ 12:44am

    Green Web

    I think it turns the web into a more 'web [environmentally] friendly' in a way because it utilizes resources and therefore emits less heat, creates less idle servers, and many more aspects. It practically turns the wen into a "Green Web Environment" and I'm all for it!.

    My 2cents :)
    תוכנית עסקית

     

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  7.  
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    WarOtter (profile), May 22nd, 2009 @ 5:13am

    Ironic..

    It is ironic that support a modern broadband computing society, they would reach out to the slowest, most inefficient shit haven of a business that is the USPS. Kind of like using a 19th century coal burning locomotive to transport Prius engines

     

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  8.  
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    Andrea Raimondi, May 22nd, 2009 @ 5:20am

    There's going to never be enough bandwidth

    When will companies realize this?

    Bandwith will *NEVER* be enough for the simple reason that once a limit is overcome, companies will be hitting the next wall. All this will be so as long as there's a limit whatsoever.

    This ain't gonna change unless the business models do, i.e. ISP companies change the model to charge customers and make their infrastructures current.

    Andrew

     

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  9.  
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    Postmaster, May 22nd, 2009 @ 5:50am

    Re: Ironic..

    Perhaps customers could use Star Fleet technology? You know what that is - put the package a little floor tile and they transport it through the air, and receive it at another Star Fleet station, where it gets loaded onto a truck and delivered...

    The computer you are on, the chair you're sitting in, the food you eat - all are delivered by trucks, the same "technology" used by the Postal Service - the same service Amazon expects its Marketplace sellers to use when shipping books, dvds, and other small media.

    The Postal Service handles ten times the volume of parcels, letters and other forms of mailable items that Fedex and UPS combined. They do a great job, considering what they have to do.

    Let's drop the old "pony express" sterotype bullshit. The USPS performs their job well.

     

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  10.  
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    ChronoFish (profile), May 22nd, 2009 @ 5:52am

    SnailMail

    LOL : SnailMail and SneakerNet is the solution to getting data into the cloud!

    -CF

     

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  11.  
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    Xanthir, FCD, May 22nd, 2009 @ 7:47am

    Been talked about

    I can't recall where I read it, but I recently read someone else talking about exactly this. He actually compared the bandwidth and cost/byte of various connection types, plus just sending a big hard drive through the mail. With a large enough drive the mail has the highest bandwidth of all! And the cost is relatively low for the quantity of data transmitted.

    Lessee... just sending a single 1TB disk through the mail, with a two-day transfer time, results in a bandwidth of 46 Mbps. That's *much* faster than what most people have access to (obviously faster than the connection that Amazon expects you to have, since they're quoting a transfer time of 13 days rather than 2, or roughly 7 Mbps), and it scales up linearly with the size of the drive you transfer. Sending 10 of those 1TB disks at a time gives you an effective bandwidth of 460 Mbps, which is far beyond what can reasonably be squeezed out of the modern net.

    And the cost? Well, you can probably slap some bubble-wrap around a drive and send it in a Priority Mail Flat Rate envelope, for $4.95. A larger box, for greater protection, will cost you about $10. It looks like buying any dedicated server with at least 1TB of bandwidth/month will cost you $60 or more. If you're shipping out several TBs a month, the cost can get even worse. So good ol' US Mail has the lowest cost per byte and the highest bandwidth of *any* solution right now if you're shipping out large quantities of data to single destinations. This is, btw, exactly the scenario you're looking at when dealing with backups.

    It seems silly, but the sneakernet is alive and well these days. ^_^

     

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  12.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), May 22nd, 2009 @ 11:24am

    BAN USPS Carrying Storage Media !!!!

    "sneakernet is alive and well these days"

    Perhaps, which is why I propose legislation to ban the shipping of media storage by USPS. You see, there is a risk to national security here. How can anyone know or track what is being sent?

    We need to install scanners with Deep Packet Inspection in every postal vehicle to do full scan of any storage media at the point of pick-up. This is the only way we can be safe from the imminent threat of terrorists.

    Once the scans are put in place, we need to be sure that the quantity of data that people are sending does not exceed the caps of their ISP. Otherwise, they would just use the USPS to skirt around their caps. ISPs and telcos made painful trade-offs to secure their franchises in US towns. This USPS sneakernet is just a blatant thumb in the eye of those franchise rights.

    The Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania will pass legislation prohibiting these sneakernets from unfairly entering the market and competing with incumbent service providers, unless they do it for free. Though noting Rendell's a douche for the move, Techdirt applauds the free part. http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Mobile-and-Wireless/Pennsylvania-Governor-Signs-WiFi-Bill/

    The USPS should then come under the scrutiny of the FCC, who would be charged with making sure that there is no porn or profanity traveling the sneakernet. Sure, the FCC was originally charged with only radio broadcast networks, but their role should steadily expand to protect us from the "seven words you can't say" under all circumstances. Think about the children!

    On the upside, the USPS will then be determined to deliver postal service to every square inch of the USA, because they DO provide service to every postal code. The FCC "service measurement" tautology is complete. http://blog.techdirt.com/article_main.php?sid=20060926/114149

    The USPS, emboldened by their awesome coverage monopoly, will decide to abuse that power, and will decide that any storage media that seems to contain the word "Bittorrent" will be redirected to a slower delivery route through some of their more remote post offices. They will call this "traffic shaping". They will justify it because Markley assures them that anything having to do with Bit Torrent must be evil.

    Since we're doing DPI at the point of pickup anyway, I'm sure Rep. Howard Burman will propose legislation that will allow the RIAA and MPAA to do inspections of all the content on the drives, to see if it matches the digital fingerprints of their copyright material. If a match is found, then they will have the right to sue the sender and receiver for infringement.

    Burman will also pass legislation to put a "media transport tax" on any shipping done by the USPS (like we play on blank CDs), and those funds will be given to the media industry, since the USPS is playing some role in trafficking copyright material.

    The USPS will be sued by countless media firms, who accuse it of trafficking in "pirate" material, and complicit in "theft". The prosecution will prove that by, for a brief time, holding the media in their possession, the USPS is liable for content. The Judge will be Swedish, a chef, and will have ties to the media firms in question. His final ruling will be a damning "Boort boort boort!".

    Craigslist will be limited by the USPS, because they are surely nothing but a den of sin. They will no longer be allowed receive any packages in "plain brown wrappers".

    Insert paragraph to link sneakernet to illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and maybe Sean Penn. That'll rattle 'em

    Eventually, newspaper publishers will see the USPS system of sneakernet it as the salvation of their industry. They will devise a new model as follows: Newspapers will be written, printed, scanned to images, stored on thumb drives, then delivered daily to subscribers by USPS. The subscribers will be required to pay for specialized Kodak printers which accept the thumb drive and print the entire newspaper. Kodak will share revenue on the printers, ink, and paper with the newspapers. Customers will definitely buy the printers and the services because the newspaper people hope they do.

    Lastly, Techdirt will write an extensive series of articles on how the USPS sneakernet should be free, and the USPS should make their money on alternate business models.

    OK, you got me. This LAST paragraph is totally ridiculous, and would never happen in the real world. There are real variable costs to sneakernet, and it shouldn't be free.

     

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  13.  
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    Gene Cavanaugh, May 22nd, 2009 @ 5:45pm

    Fatter pipes for cloud computing

    As a friend in Tokyo likes to point out; in "advanced nations" this is not a problem - super wide pipes in those nations.
    It is only in the more backward nations like the US that the problem continues. But then, if you deemphasize tech research in favor of profits and entertainment, what can you expect?

     

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  14.  
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    Cliff, May 24th, 2009 @ 10:00pm

    Amazon & Bandwidth

    As usual fast is "Not Fast Enough" for todays business atmosphere and the current generation!

    Well you can only jam so much data down a wire, cable or what the internet utilizes nowadays?
    The internet has gotten just like Starbucks-- there is one on each & every corner it seems.
    Similiar to the gas stations of yesteryears.
    Now you see what Howard Shultz(Starbucks CEO) is doing closing the one's that are not profitable.
    I would presume with the loss of jobs and loss of xtra financial cash there once was with many consumers!
    The internet will be downsizing just like Starbucks--to keep the profits up!
    Keeping a roof over one's head and feeding the family out weighs internet services by a great margine I'd pretty much say!

     

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