Amazon Launches Snowball – Storage Appliance For Importing Data To AWS

Amazon surprised developers today with the launch of a device dubbed as Snowball. Snowball is  a new physical appliance that will allow Amazon Web Service users to ship huge amounts of data for import by shipping the device back and forth between their offices and the AWS data centers.

The appliance is a bit larger than an old-school desktop case and it can hold up to 50 terabytes of data. It has a Kindle on the side, which functions as an automatic shipping label. Amazon says the case can withstand a 6 G jolt and is entirely self-contained, with a 110-volt power supply and 10 GB network connection built-in.

Amazon have a set price for using this service. It will cost you $200 for 10 days of usage, each extra date on site will cost you an additional $15 per day. Amazon are not going to charge for importing the data from snowball back into your S3 appliance on their servers.

After you set up a “snowball” on their website, Amazon will ship the storage appliance. You then import your data and ship it back to amazon, using the embedded kindle as a shipping label. At the moment, all of the data will be imported into the companies Oregon data center; they say additional data centers are coming soon.

U.S. State Accuses Oracle of Lying, Fraud and Racketeering

The state of Oregon, U.S, has sued Oracle America Inc. and six of its top executives on Friday. Reason for the lawsuit is their failing to deliver a working website for the Affordable Care Act program, also known as Obamacare. Oregon had paid Oracle around $240 million dollars for a system that never worked.

A 126 page long lawsuit was filed in Marion Country Circuit Court claiming that fraud, lying and “a pattern of racketeering” by Oracle cost the state and its Cover Oregon program hundreds of millions of dollars. “Not only were Oracle’s claims lies, Oracle’s work was abysmal,” the lawsuit said. 

In a statement issued from Oracle, it reads “the lawsuit is a desperate attempt to deflect blame from Cover Oregon and the governor for their failures to manage a complex IT project. The complaint is a fictional account of the Oregon Healthcare Project.” Oracle plans to fight the lawsuit and is confident that they will win both in this lawsuit and the one filed 2 weeks ago in the federal court.

Oregon was initially enthusiastic about the federal healthcare plan and their own Cover Oregon and quickly engaged in television commercials and print ads in advance of the rollout. But the Oracle-built site never worked and Oregonians were forced to submit paper applications in a hastily-organized process. In April Oregon moved to an exchange run by the federal government.

The original whistle-blower on this told the state that Oracle “planned … a behind the scenes effort” to keep the state from hiring an outside systems integrator who would oversee the project. The suit asks Oracle to pay for Cover Oregon’s financial losses, plus penalties for damages.

Thank you Reuters for providing us with this information.

Image and video courtesy of Oracle.

Geologists Say that Earth-like Soils on Mars Could Lead to Microbial Life Discovery

Some geologists have analysed a few sample images captured by the ‘Curiosity’ rover from Mars and tell that there might be Earth-like soils on the red planet. The images show that there might be some ancient fossilized soils deep within an impact crater, which could eventually lead to the discovery of microbial life.

While Mars is filled with landscapes resembling catastrophic floods and rocks from impact craters, there might be signs of smooth soils and soften terrain, much like we have on Earth. Gregory Retallack from the University of Oregon has apparently analysed the mineral and chemical data from Curiosity, leading to the discovery of such soils we are used to stepping on for thousands of years.

The professors states that soils from Gale Crater, dating back to 3.7 billion years ago, appear to have cracked surfaces lined with sulfate and vesicular hollows, both features of soils found on desert terrains on Earth. In addition, the sulphate concentration are said to be comparable with Antarctic Dry Valleys and Chile’s Atacama Desert.

“The pictures were the first clue, but then all the data really nailed it,” Retallack says in a news release. “The new data show clear chemical weathering trends, and clay accumulation at the expense of the mineral olivine, as expected in soils on Earth […] Phosphorus depletion within the profiles is especially tantalizing, because it attributed to microbial activity on Earth.”

Th new soils discovered are said to offer more insight on habitable conditions previously found on Mars. Also, having them date back 3.7 billion years ago tends to put Mars’ water cycle at around the same time as the Earth started diversifying. Further studies are said to take place on geologically younger layers within craters in order to learn the planet’s life story.

Thank you IFLScience for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of IFLScience