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Summary:

If you thought Amazon Web Services would stop churning out new features and cutting prices on older ones, you have another think coming.

Amazon Web Services
photo: Flickr/Will Merydith

It’s a truism among Amazon Web Services customers that it’s not the cost of storage or compute that gets you, it’s the data transfer charges. Thursday night, Amazon launched price cuts that will make it considerably cheaper for you to move your stuff between AWS regions. Amazon typically recommends that large customers distribute workloads between Availability Zones. Making it cheaper to move data between regions could encourage customers to distribute their workloads geographically.

Update: Until now, Amazon charged standard internet rates for moving data between its regions but as if Friday it’s offering a reduced rate. The new data transfer pricing –which ranges from 26 percent to 83 percent off those old rates — applies to data residing in S3 storage, EC2 compute instances and Glacier archives.  This may come as good news to companies wanting to spread their cloud loads beyond Amazon’s US-East data center, which is the focal point of virtually all of the AWS outages over the past year.

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The discounts also apply to Amazon’s Cloudfront Content Delivery Network (CDN). The cost of using CloudFront with static data stored in S3 or dynamic data coming from EC2 will also fall, according to the AWS blog post announcing the news.

In other AWS news, Amazon also made use of its M3 extra-large high-CPU performance instances available in data centers beyond US-East. These 64-bit instances — which target batch processing and web serving applications — can now be sourced from both US-West regions, AWS GovCloud, Europe and Asia Pacific (Singapore, Tokyo and Sydney). M3 will come to the South America region soon.

Amazon typically launches new features and functions in US-East because it is the largest and oldest of its data center facilities; it then broadens availability over time. One thing to keep in mind: pricing can be lower in US-East than the other regions — it was unclear if there was a price differential here, however.

Finally, AWS also cut prices of some of its Linux On-Demand EC2 instances worldwide by 10 to 20 percent as of Friday.

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Robert Shear, president of Greystone Solutions, an IT consultancy that does a lot of AWS work, said that as of now, “multi-region solutions are not as common in the wild as they are on paper. The [data transfer] cost reduction will give us more freedom in the ways we architect cross-region solutions,”  he said via email.

Most of his customers will see  more immediate benefit in the reduction of on-demand instance pricing.

Amazon makes a habit of rolling out new features fast and furiously and then slicing prices; it looks like that trend will continue. What’s different this year is that more companies are offering cloud infrastructure that will compete with AWS for business workloads, although none of the rivals — with the possible exception of Google Compute Engine – are expected to come close to Amazon’s overall scale and capacity any time soon.

This story was updated at 7:36 a.m. PDT with user comment and again at 11:19 a.m. PDT with clarification of the new data transfer charges.

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  1. Hassan Hosseini Friday, February 1, 2013

    Great news from AWS! One thing I wanted to point out was that the data transfer pricing has not technically been reduced, it has been introduced. Previously, data flowing from one region to another would have been charged standard data transfer pricing over the public internet.
    Now, they have started to distinguish data transfers between EC2 instances to out-of-AWS resources and EC2 instances on different regions.
    The price for the data transfer over the internet has not been reduced, it has been decoupled from data transfers over the internet to a different AWS region.

    I just thought that was interesting. The new prices are coming into PlanForCloud within the next few hours so users can see how this price change will affect their cost forecasts.

    Thanks,
    Hassan

    1. thanks for your comment. i am going to investigate and update as needed.

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