AWS: new servers and storage products for the edge at re:Invent 2021

AWS: new servers and storage products for the edge at re:Invent 2021

AWS recently held its re:Invent customer conference, where as usual it made a flurry of product announcements. The company’s Private 5G announcement sparked a lot of conversation, but some other new edge and IoT releases it made were also noteworthy.

First up, AWS is introducing a smaller version of its ‘cloud-in-a-box’ product, Outposts. Up to now, Outposts has been available in a full rack; the company just made them available in additional countries, including Costa Rica, Ecuador, Morocco, Nigeria, and Vietnam.

It will be now possible to buy much smaller 1U or 2U versions. Given the number of other competitors in the hardware market such as Schneider and Western Digital offering similar products, this was probably an inevitable announcement. Still, adding lower cost options for customers will be a boon for expanding AWS’ footprint at the enterprise edge.

Secondly, AWS launched IoT TwinMaker. Digital Twins (a digital model of a physical object like a car or a process like a factory) are increasingly talked about as a potential use case for edge computing. AWS IoT TwinMaker is a service that AWS says will make it faster and easier to deploy digital twins. It has connectors to AWS IoT Sitewise, S3 storage and will allow the import of 3D CAD models as well as the ability to graph the input data, which AWS says will enable users to accurately model their real-world environments.

Lastly, AWS added some products to its Snowball line, which is hardware for the ‘rugged edge’ — spots like oil rigs and other remote sites where maintenance and connectivity are spotty and equipment needs to run reliably under harsh environmental conditions such as extreme cold or heat. The new ability to configure Snowball with all SSD technology will offer speed and reliability gains over hard disk drives, for instance. However, the latest edge use case is not about dealing with new data, but rather migrating existin data to the cloud. A new service lets companies use Snowball devices to migrate data from offline tape libraries to several AWS cloud regions. With many competitive products in this area, this was an inevitable development.

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