Head in
the cloud

The cloud is also a truck

In the era of the cloud and all-powerful networks, Amazon is offering a new digital-data transport service—by truck. A new-generation lorry rig comes to companies, extracts their data and stores it in containers. It seems anachronistic, but it isn't.

A removal company for intangible matter

If you have tons of digital data gathering dust in your company's store rooms, you can call upon Amazon's Snowmobile and a lorry rig will come and get rid of it for you, like a removal company for intangible matter.

This data transport solution is geared towards companies that are suffocating under heaps of overflowing servers. This is heavy stuff; the solution deals with computer data “petabytes” (a million billion bytes). It is a far bigger quantity than that of your selfie, music or film collection, which could amount to a terabyte (a thousand gigabytes) at most. Obviously, this means heavy-duty transportation equipment is in order. It takes a huge rig to transport the cargo, and so a genuinely unique solution merits a return to the good old days.

"Honey, I'm just going out to empty the cloud"

Just as with a fuel tanker, data is pumped from the client's server, stored in the truck's mobile server, and transported to its final destination at one of Amazon's data centers. You might not believe it, but this saves a huge amount of time, even with traffic jams!

Not convinced? While a traditional network would take six months to transfer 100 PO, the same amount can be transported by road in just one week.

Could we soon be seeing trails of “data server” trucks winding along French roads? A low-tech option is sometimes preferable, and in today's global data explosion there is a need for infrastructure, storage, and transport solutions.

An increasingly heavy cloud

What about data? It is impossible to estimate how much data will be around in 10 or 15 years from now. It is thought that there is already more data in the world than grains of sand. There is now 18 times more data traffic than there was just  five years ago.

Picturing the cloud may conjure the powerful image of data floating in the sky but, in reality, it takes up a vast amount of space. The Data Center Map site lists 3,625 storage centers (or 8.6 million, including internal servers) across the globe. A data center is no small structure: the giant Portuguese center in Covihla covers 75,000 m², and Apple's project in Ireland spans 166,000 m². Consumption levels in these centers are sky high: in 2016 data centers gobbled up 3 % of global electricity. Apple’s project in Ireland could increase the country's total consumption by more than 8%.

Data centers gobbled up 3 % of global electricity

In a nutshell, the cloud takes up space, consumes energy, and produces heat waste that can be recycled for urban heating. The cloud and the data stored within it are very much tangible quantities, as evidenced by the need for data removal by trailer. Sooner or later, storage networks and infrastructure will need to be replaced. Our data use may even reach a critical size; without one, we could be facing traffic jams on our trusty information highways.

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