Amazon lowers EC2 cloud service fees, adds MySQL relational instancing

Come November 1, Amazon's Web Services division will be lowering the per-hour prices for all of its current five instance types (AMIs), while adding two new AMI types on the high-end, according to a multitude of announcements from Amazon today. At the new high end of the scale will be a "quadruple extra-large" AMI with 68.4 GB of dedicated RAM, and the virtual computing power of a 1 GHz, 26-core Intel Xeon processor (albeit a 2007 model).

The new high-end instances won't come cheap -- they'll carry a premium of $2.40 per instance-hour for Linux editions, and $2.88 per instance-hour for Windows Server 2003. The previous high-end AMI, still called "extra large," had been priced at nearly one-third that amount.

However, revenue from the new super-high-end will help drive down prices for everyone else, starting November 1. At that time, the per-hour price for the smallest and cheapest instance available, running generic Linux, will be reduced by 15% to $0.085 per hour. Windows Server instances will be trimmed a bit, but not by as much percentage-wise -- the "extra large" price, for instance, will drop only 4¢ to $0.96 per hour.

The price cuts come as Amazon looks to offer more competitive buildouts, for customers that continue to prefer to deploy entire machine instances -- rather than just applications, such as Salesforce.com and Microsoft offer -- in the cloud, administered using everyday software. Already Amazon has been offering pre-configured AMIs with Microsoft SQL Server (at about a 10% premium per-hour), and IBM DB2 (somewhat higher at $0.38 per hour). Now Amazon is committing to offering its own brand of database server, called Amazon RDS, in lower-priced instances that will compete with its SQL Server, Oracle, and DB2 instances, using MySQL as the underlying engine.

"For customers whose applications require relational storage, but want to reduce the time spent on database management, Amazon RDS automates common administrative tasks to reduce complexity and total cost of ownership," reads a statement from Amazon AWS to Betanews this afternoon. "Amazon RDS automatically backs up a customer's database and maintains the database software, allowing customers to spend more time on application development. With the native database access Amazon RDS provides, customers get the programmatic familiarity, tooling and application compatibility of a traditional RDBMS. Customers also benefit from the flexibility of being able to scale the compute resources or storage capacity associated with a Relational Database Instance via a single API call."

Customers will still be expected to maintain their own databases, Amazon's statement tells us, although instancing in the cloud will enable them to re-provision resources as necessary on a more granular basis. Multiple statements today managed to make mince meat of Amazon's quoted rates for transfer, but a blog post this afternoon managed to straighten the matter out: RDS customers will be charged 10¢ per gigabyte per month for storage, and another 10¢ per month for every one million I/O requests. Bandwidth charges should then be the same as for Amazon's existing, non-relational SimpleDB instances: The first gigabyte of data in or out is free, then fees rise to 10¢ per gigabyte in and 17¢ per gigabyte out, declining to 10¢ per gigabyte out after 150 TB.

This will not be the first appearance of MySQL on Amazon's cloud; the commercial MySQL Enterprise has been available under Sun Microsystems' branding since this time last year.

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