Thursday, September 09, 2010

Amazon Starts Cloud Price War with Micro EC2 Linux Instances at $0.02/Hour ($0.007/Hour Spot)

Update 9/9/2010 1:00 PM: See end of copy of Jeff Barr’s post.

Amazon Web Services’ Jeff Barr announced in an e-mail message and New Amazon EC2 Micro Instances - New, Low Cost Option for Low Throughput Applications blog of 9/9/2010 what .NET developers had hoped to hear from the Windows Azure team:

image I can’t tell you how many of you have told me you’d like to run smaller applications at lower cost on EC2. These applications are typically low traffic/low throughput—web applications, web site hosting, various types of periodic cron jobs and the like.

image I’m happy to say we have now built an instance type exactly for these purposes, called Micro instances, starting at $0.02 (two cents) per hour for Linux/Unix and $0.03 (three cents) per hour for Windows. [Emphasis added.]

Micro Instances (t1.micro) provide a small amount of consistent CPU resources and allow you to burst CPU capacity when additional cycles are available. They are available now in all Regions. You can buy Reserved Micro Instances and you can acquire Micro Instances on the Spot Market. Interestingly enough, they are available in both 32 and 64 bit flavors, both with 613 MB of RAM. The Micro Instances have no local, ephemeral storage, so you'll need to Boot from EBS.

CloudWatch can be used to watch the level of CPU utilization to understand when the available CPU bursting has been used within a given time period. If your instance's CPU utilization is approaching 100% then you may want to scale (using Auto Scaling) to additional Micro instances or to a larger instance type. In fact, at this low a price you could run CloudWatch configured for Auto Scaling with two Micro instances behind an Elastic Load Balancer for just under the price of one CloudWatch-monitored Standard Small instance.

While designed to host web applications and web sites that don't receive all that much traffic (generally tens of requests per minute, depending on how much CPU time is needed to process the request), I'm pretty sure that you'll be able to put this new instance type to use in some interesting ways. Here are some of my thoughts:

  1. DNS servers, load balancers, proxies, and similar services that handle a relatively low volume of requests.
  2. Lightweight cron-driven tasks such as monitoring, health checks, or data updates.
  3. Hands-on training and other classroom use.

Update: The AWS Simple Monthly Calculator now includes the Micro instances. The calculation at right illustrates the costs for a three year Reserved Instance running Linux/Unix full time.

Spot Pricing for Micro Instances

Here’s the spot price for a Getting Started on Fedora Core 8 (AMI Id: ami-b232d0db) Minimal Fedora Core 8, 32-bit architecture, Apache 2.0 instance and Amazon EC2 AMI Tools:


and the spot price for a Getting Started on Microsoft Windows Server 2008 (AMI Id: ami-c5e40dac) Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R1 SP2 Datacenter edition, 32-bit architecture instance with Microsoft SQLServer 2008 Express, Internet Information Services 7, ASP.NET 3.5:


Microsoft developers have clamored for lower priced Windows Azure compute instances since the Windows Azure Services Platform went into commercial service on 1/4/2010. Here are the two most-requested features on the Windows Azure Feature Voting Forum as of 9/9/2010:


Following is a comparison of the monthly (30-days) prices of the least expensive AWS and Windows Azure Compute instances:

Provider Product Standard Price Spot Price
Amazon EC2 Micro (Windows) US$21.60/month US$9.36/month
Microsoft Azure Compute US$86.40/month Not Available

A Windows Azure compute instance is four times more expensive than a EC2 Micro instance with standard pricing, almost time times more expensive compared with Amazon’s spot pricing.

Another recent Windows-in-the-cloud pricing event: Mary Jo Foley (@maryjofoley) reported Rackspace fills out its Windows cloud story in a 9/8/2010 post to her All About Microsoft ZDNet blog:

Pricing for the [Rackspace] Cloud Servers for Windows hosting service begins at $0.08 an hour for 1GB RAM and 40GB disk.

When will we hear a response from Microsoft?