What is Azure Data Box Edge?

Azure Data Box Edge is an AI-enabled edge computing device with network data transfer capabilities. This article provides you an overview of the Data Box Edge solution, benefits, key capabilities, and the scenarios where you can deploy this device.

Data Box Edge is a Hardware-as-a-service solution. Microsoft ships you a cloud-managed device with a built-in Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) that enables accelerated AI-inferencing and has all the capabilities of a storage gateway.

Use cases

Here are the various scenarios where Data Box Edge can be used for rapid Machine Learning (ML) inferencing at the edge and preprocessing data before sending it to Azure.

  • Inference with Azure Machine Learning - With Data Box Edge, you can run ML models to get quick results that can be acted on before the data is sent to the cloud. The full data set can optionally be transferred to continue to retrain and improve your ML models. For more information on how to use the Azure ML hardware accelerated models on the Data Box Edge device, see Deploy Azure ML hardware accelerated models on Data Box Edge.

  • Preprocess data - Transform data before sending it to Azure to create a more actionable dataset. Preprocessing can be used to:

    • Aggregate data.
    • Modify data, for example to remove personal data.
    • Subset data to optimize storage and bandwidth, or for further analysis.
    • Analyze and react to IoT Events.
  • Transfer data over network to Azure - Use Data Box Edge to easily and quickly transfer data to Azure to enable further compute and analytics or for archival purposes.

Key capabilities

Data Box Edge has the following capabilities:

Capability Description
Accelerated AI inferencing Enabled by the built-in FPGA.
Computing Allows analysis, processing, filtering of data.
High performance High performance compute and data transfers.
Data access Direct data access from Azure Storage Blobs and Azure Files using cloud APIs for additional data processing in the cloud. Local cache on the device is used for fast access of most recently used files.
Cloud-managed Device and service are managed via the Azure portal.
Offline upload Disconnected mode supports offline upload scenarios.
Supported protocols Support for standard SMB and NFS protocols for data ingestion.
For more information on supported versions, go to Data Box Edge system requirements.
Data refresh Ability to refresh local files with the latest from cloud.
Encryption BitLocker support to locally encrypt data and secure data transfer to cloud over https.
Bandwidth throttling Throttle to limit bandwidth usage during peak hours.

Components

The Data Box Edge solution comprises of Data Box Edge resource, Data Box Edge physical device, and a local web UI.

  • Data Box Edge physical device - A 1U rack-mounted server supplied by Microsoft that can be configured to send data to Azure.

  • Data Box Edge resource – a resource in the Azure portal that lets you manage a Data Box Edge device from a web interface that you can access from different geographical locations. Use the Data Box Edge resource to create and manage resources, view, and manage devices and alerts, and manage shares.

    For more information, go to Create an order for your Data Box Edge device.

  • Data Box local web UI - Use the local web UI to run diagnostics, shut down and restart the Data Box Edge device, view copy logs, and contact Microsoft Support to file a service request.

    For information about using the web-based UI, go to Use the web-based UI to administer your Data Box.

Region availability

Data Box Edge physical device, Azure resource, and target storage account to which you transfer data do not all have to be in the same region.

  • Resource availability - For a list of all the regions where the Data Box Edge resource is available, go to Azure products available by region. Data Box Edge can also be deployed in the Azure Government Cloud. For more information, see What is Azure Government?.

  • Destination Storage accounts - The storage accounts that store the data are available in all Azure regions. The regions where the storage accounts store Data Box Edge data should be located close to where the device is located for optimum performance. A storage account located far from the device results in long latencies and slower performance.

Next steps