Moving lots of data to the cloud can take a long time and cost quite a bit, even over fast connections. Like its competitors — and especially AWS — Microsoft has long allowed its Azure users to import data to its cloud by shipping hard drives to its data centers. It’s now going a step further with the preview launch of the 100 TB Azure Data Box, its answer to AWS’s 50 and 80 TB Snowball boxes.

The 45 pound Azure Data Box is meant to allow enterprises to quickly and securely move their data into the cloud. Microsoft describes it as a “ruggedized, tamper-resistant and human-manageable applications that will help organizations overcome the data transfer barriers that can
block productivity and slow innovation.”

Users order the box from the Azure portal, load it up with their data and then ship it to Microsoft for ingestion into the Azure cloud. Like the AWS Snowball, the Data Box also features a e-paper display that functions as the shipping label.

The box plugs right into the data center network and supports standard protocol like SMB and CIFS. Data on the box itself is secured with with a 256 bit AWS encryption.

Given that we’re talking Microsoft here, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the company is also working with partners like Commvault, Veritas, NetApp, Avid, Rubrik and CloudLanes, who will all integrate their services with the Data Box.

Micrososft also tested the box with the help of Oceaneering International, a company that, among other things, offers ROV-based subsea inspection services for the oil industry. Those robots can easily create multiple terabytes of data per day but aren’t always connected to the internet. In Oceaneering International’s use case, the company stores its data on the Data Box, upload the data to Azure and then prepare it for its own customers.



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