Microsoft has expanded its Azure Data Box family with a new rugged version of the device that fits in a backpack. This concerns the rugged Azure Data Box Edge, which can be used to move data to and from Azure.

The Azure Data Box family was made available in Europe in 2018. Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that the new rugged Data Box Edge is coming soon and complies with the MIL-STD-810G MIL-STG-461 standards.

The new Data Box can be used by “forward-deployed operational units, ground patrols and similar mission needs at the tactical edge”, says Microsoft. The device has a battery and is lightweight according to ZDNet.

FPGA processor

Like the current Data Box Edge, the rugged variant can analyze, process and transform data on premise before it is uploaded to Azure.

Furthermore, like its big brother, the new device has an on-board field-programmable gate-array (FPGA) processor for accelerating machine learning. This means that military operations and other applications where speed is important must be well supported.

Competing with AWS

The Azure Data Box family is designed to compete with AWS Snowball. With the hardware, large amounts of data have to be physically moved to the data center, should an internet connection not suffice. The device already had a rugged housing, but was not portable because of that housing.

The idea is that customers order a box, load it up and send it back to Microsoft. Microsoft then moves the data to the cloud and deletes it on the hardware. The original 2018 Data Box had 100 TB of storage capacity and was protected with 256-bit AES encryption.

In the past, AWS Snowball was primarily intended to transfer large amounts of data from a local data center to AWS. Snowball does the same as the Azure Data Box, but also supports various EC2 instances. With this, the company wants to make computer power available where it is temporarily needed.