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AWS shakes up cloud storage pricing, expands Free Tier

AWS Free Tier users benefit from increased data transfer limits and the removal of some limited time trials as the hyperscaler further compartmentalizes storage tiers and services.

AWS seeks to lure more organizations into its ever-expanding web of services and products with increased data transfer limits for AWS Free Tier users.

The hyperscaler boosted data transfer limits from AWS Regions to the internet from 1 GB to 100 GB, and increased Amazon CloudFront data transfers to 1 TB from 50 GB for AWS Free Tier users.

The AWS Regions-to-internet function enables users to move more data from their AWS cloud storage and services, such as Amazon S3 storage or Amazon EC2 cloud computing, elsewhere on the internet. Amazon CloudFront is the AWS service for distribution of web content such as data, video or image files, to users.

The new limits, announced at AWS re:Invent this week, are effective immediately.

The increased limits within the Free Tier are useful for those dabbling in the AWS cloud, but storage experts warn users to keep an eye on their billing pages.

There is no free lunch with Amazon.
Marc StaimerPresident, Dragon Slayer Consulting

"There is no free lunch with Amazon," said Marc Staimer, president of Dragon Slayer Consulting.

AWS made other changes in its storage portfolio as well. The cloud services giant said it reduced storage prices in three S3 Storage Classes up to 31%, including S3 Standard-Infrequent Access, S3 One Zone-Infrequent Access and Amazon S3 Glacier Flexible Retrieval. AWS also delivered new storage tiers and classes for its Amazon S3 Glacier data archiving service and AWS IoT SiteWise data service for industrial equipment.

Describing many of the AWS cloud services as "good enough" for organizations that want to use cloud services, Staimer said the meter of access, compute and transfer fees can rapidly tick upwards.

"It's not free forever," Staimer said. "This is how the pricing works. The more performance, the higher the price."

Free Tier freebies and S3 savings

The AWS Free Tier enables users to experiment with AWS's services, albeit with limitations ranging from data caps to time-limited trials, based on the service and usage. Depending on the service, exceeding Free Tier limits will invoke pay-as-you-go pricing.

The Free Tier for Amazon CloudFront no longer includes the one-year trial limit for the service. Other CloudFront Free Tier changes include the removal of the one-year trial limit on 2 million CloudFront Functions per month and an increase in the number of free HTTP and HTTPS requests to 10 million per month, up from 2 million. CloudFront Functions is Amazon's scripting service for CloudFront, which is available in 21 AWS Regions worldwide.

Ray Lucchesi, president of Silverton Consulting, called the increases a "nice touch" by AWS, but wondered what the target audience for the tier would be.

"Is it going to be enough for people to use it?" he said. "Probably not. There's all the transaction costs as well that need to be considered."

AWS GovCloud, an isolated AWS region for hosting sensitive and regulated workloads, does not qualify for the increased transfers from AWS Regions to the internet, nor do any AWS China regions. CloudFront data transfer increases also aren't applicable in China.

The Amazon S3 pricing reductions depend on data center regions, with a majority of the reductions in AWS's defined Asia Pacific and U.S. West regions.

Faster Glacier thawing

AWS split the Amazon S3 Glacier storage tiers further with the new Amazon S3 Glacier Instant Retrieval storage class.

This new archive storage class prioritizes millisecond retrieval for rarely accessed data, according to AWS. For comparison, S3 Glacier Flexible Retrieval takes one minute for small requests or up to 12 hours for bulk requests of infrequently accessed data, while the S3 Glacier Deep Archive delivers rarely used or accessed data within 12 hours. AWS said target uses for the Instant Retrieval tier include medical imaging, health records and news media assets.

Instant Retrieval commands the highest price among the Glacier tiers at $.004 per GB for storage, compared to $.0036 per GB for Flexible Retrieval or $.00099 per GB for Deep Archive.

Archives for the job site

The AWS IoT SiteWise managed service now includes two storage tiers for collecting equipment data: a hot tier targeted at real-time applications and a cold tier for analytical applications.

AWS IoT SiteWise collects data generated from industrial equipment, enabling users to create monitoring applications and alarms based on usage, trends or other organization demands.

Pricing for the service is based on a variety of factors tracked by AWS.

Hot tier data, as defined by AWS, includes applications requiring lower write-to-read latency such as interactive dashboards or operation monitoring software. Cold tier storage is intended for applications accessing historical data, reports or backups.

Tim McCarthy is a journalist living in the North Shore of Massachusetts. He covers cloud and data storage news.

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