Google’s Transfer Appliance helps businesses ship their data to the Google Cloud by FedEx

Google today announced the launch of its Transfer Appliance, a new hardware appliance and service for moving large amounts of data from corporate data centers to its cloud via FedEx. While Google already offered its users the ability to ship physical media like storage arrays, hard disks, tapes and USB flash drives to its data centers through third-party partners, the Transfer Appliance is quite a bit more sophisticated. The company also built its own hardware for this service, which can be used to ship anything from 100TB to 480TB to the cloud (and more if the data is easily compressible).

If this sounds familiar, that’s probably because you’ve heard about AWS Snowball, which is essentially Amazon’s version of this. Snowball comes in 50TB and 80TB versions. If you need more space (up to 100PB), Amazon will pull up to your data center with a truck — the AWS Snowmobile.

The concept here is pretty straightforward: Google will ship the appliance to your data center, you install it in one of your racks, connect it to the local network, fill it with your data using Google’s tools and then send it back to Google.

Dave Nettleton, Google’s group product manager for its cloud storage products, told me that while the company’s existing services for moving data to the cloud by shipping physical media worked for some customers, but many enterprise customers were looking for a service that could easily move petabytes of data. He also noted that today’s launch is part of a wider move for Google Cloud to appeal to traditional enterprises by expanding its data ingestion portfolio. But more importantly, Google’s strategy is now to meet its customers (and potential customers) where they are.

“GCP has done super well with the cloud natives,” he told me and cited Snap as an example for this kind of user. “For the traditional enterprise, these are the sort of features they expect from us.”

Transfer time for 1PB of data.

Transfer time for 1 PB of data.

The base cost for using the 100TB model will cost $300, plus shipping, which Google says should cost about $500. For the 480TB unit, the base cost is $1,800, plus about $900 for shipping. Users can keep the small appliance in their data center for 10 days without incurring extra cost. The larger one they can keep for 25 days before having to pay overage charges.

Nettleton, who previously worked on Azure and SQL Server at Microsoft, wouldn’t say if Google was also planning to launch a Google Appliance Truck anytime soon, but he did note that all of the major public clouds are now starting to see many of the traditional enterprise customers embrace the cloud. As they do so, many of them will want to move massive amounts of data from their on-premise data centers to the cloud. So keep your eyes out for those Google Cloud trucks, because that may just be the only economical way for some companies to move their data to the cloud.