Keep on trucking: Seagate offers Sneakernet at scale

Seagate has opened Lyve Data Transfer Service – basically the idea is to use a truck to carry drives, supplied by Seagate, from A to B.

The Sneakernet-style service incorporates Lyve Mobile drives, data shuttles, arrays, and services, to enable businesses to move mass data quickly, securely, and simply from edge to central locations.

A Seagate-commissioned IDC survey found that enterprises frequently move data on drives between different locations. More than half of 1,000+ surveyed businesses move data daily, weekly, or monthly, and  the average total of physical data transferred  is  473TB.

“Seagate has simplified how mass capacity data is securely captured, aggregated, transported, and managed,” Jeff Fochtman, SVP marketing at Seagate Technology,said. “Our Lyve portfolio gives the distributed enterprise a simple and innovative mass-data storage solution to lower overall storage TCO, move, scale, and monetise data,” 

Florian Baumann, CTO of Automotive and AI at Dell, said in a press statement: “Moving hundreds of terabytes of data from a fleet of vehicles to the data centre poses numerous challenges for our customers. Seagate’s Lyve Data Transfer Services offer a great solution by physically moving data. It’s a simple and scalable solution and fills a gap that our customers had in the data gravity process.”

Lyve Data Transfer Service is roughly similar to Amazon’s Snowball concept in which a ruggedised drive is transported from a customer site to an Amazon data centre. In 2011, The Register wrote: that the now-defunct Australian “Cloud provider Ninefold is now letting people “sneakernet” their initial data dump, sending a SATA or USB storage device to the company for loading into its storage cloud.”

We asked Seagate some questions about the service.

Blocks & Files: After the end-user loads data onto the Lyve Drive, which organisation then physically transfers the drive to the destination?

Seagate: Once the devices are with the customer, the customer is responsible for shipping them. To keep the drives safe from damage Lyve Mobile shuttles and arrays are ruggedized and feature Seagate Secure technology, which offers hardware encryption for data at rest and in motion and user management to unlock the device and manage unique encryption keys.

Blocks & Files: In what geographies and over what distances does this organisation operate?

Seagate: As above, the customer is responsible for shipping the drives so this will depend on where they operate. For the time being Lyve Data Transfer Services is only available in the US, with plans to expand to EMEA later this year.

Seagate Lyve Mobile Transfer Services webpage.

Blocks & Files: How is a pickup and delivery scheduled?

Seagate: Customers can schedule pickup and delivery via the Lyve Data Transfer Services portal on Seagate’s website. Customers can sign up for the services on a flexible subscription model that can scale according the customer’s needs.

Blocks & Files: How is it tracked?

Seagate: As above, Seagate is not responsible for the shipping.


This service is appropriate, we think, when there either no network connection between the remote and a central data centres, which is unlikely, or, more likely, the network has insufficient bandwidth to transmit the collected data in a reasonable time.

This isn’t a new idea, as the term “sneakernet” indicates, and that dates from the 1980s. Computer scientist Andrew Tanenbaum wrote this in 1996: “Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway.” Fast forward 25 years and watch out for that truck carrying all those Seagate drives.