So Much Data, So Little Time

Dec. 2, 2016
Amazon’s latest idea for moving data faster is to put it on a truck.

In a seemingly counterintuitive move, Amazon Web Services recently announced the creation of Snowmobile, which moves data from large corporate customers’ data centers to Amazon’s public cloud-computing operation via truck.

Moore’s Law, which roughly states that computer chip density doubles approximately every 18 months, not only applies to transistor density, but is also applicable to enterprise data growth. So, the explosion of data has stretched the limits of network systems to move large amounts of data fast; hence Amazon’s use of a truck to move it.

According to Amazon, Snowmobile is an Exabyte-scale data transfer service that can move extremely large amounts of data to AWS. “You can transfer up to 100PB per Snowmobile, a 45-foot long ruggedized shipping container, pulled by a semi-trailer truck. Snowmobile makes it easy to move massive volumes of data to the cloud, including video libraries, image repositories, or even a complete data center migration. Transferring data with Snowmobile is secure, fast and cost effective.”

As we know, one aspect of Lean, especially as it applies to the global supply chain, is identifying and eliminating the waste of “waiting” (i.e., time), and that often applies to information, not just materials, equipment and people.

While we now have an ever-increasing abundance of data which needs to be converted to actionable information using supply chain analytics and business intelligence tools, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that it can take a while to get a hold of that data in the first place before we attempt to convert it to useful information to support good decision making.

So, while the focus recently (and rightfully so) has been more on helping the enterprise to extract meaning in a timely manner from vast amounts of data, transforming it into actionable business intelligence, it’s interesting to see companies like Amazon try to figure out ways to grab the raw data (i.e., the input) faster as well.

[Author's note: Speaking of Amazon, my latest book, Lean and Technology, is now available on their website, if you're so inclined.]

About the Author

Paul Myerson | instructor, Management and Decision Sciences

Paul Myerson is an instructor, Management and Decision Sciences at Monmouth University. He is the author of four books in the field of supply chain and logistics management, a developer of a Windows-based supply chain planning software (, and co-author of a lean supply chain and logistics management simulation training game by ENNA (

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