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Director, OpenShift Strategy at Red Hat. Founder of Rishidot Research, a research community focused on services world. His focus is on Platform Services, Infrastructure and the role of Open Source in the services era. Krish has been writing @ CloudAve from its inception and had also been part of GigaOm Pro Analyst Group. The opinions expressed here are his own and are neither representative of his employer, Red Hat, nor CloudAve, nor its sponsors.

10 responses to “AWS Free Offering: Not Enough”

  1. David Bullock

    Hi Krish,

    I don’t understand why you feel the service offering has to be free or steeply discounted forever, or has to be radically different with some kind of tawdry shock and awe campaign to distinguish it anyone else’s offering? Amazon is providing a wide swath of a pretty comprehensive solution set either free or deeply discounted. Frankly I’m a little jealous since I’d love to use that tier for my personal development and experimenting, but I’m not eligible. I paid for my development usage.

    It’s not Amazon’s responsibility to coddle a developer with no business plan, and no direction indefinitely with free use of their servers, storage and bandwidth until they come up with a viable plan to be able to pay to use the system. It’s a gift that they provide it at all, and with so many of their various services in the offering. It does provide a low risk way for a developer on a limited budget to get familiar with the various systems Amazon provides and develop for them without much obligation.

    I don’t see how it locks anyone into anything since all the functionality can be reproduced elsewhere. I believe that the free developer period shouldn’t be used for development, but should really be used at the point the developer is looking to scale an application into a cloud environment. Any application itself that would run on EC2 is easily developed by the developer on any Linux box. It’s not until you start dealing with multiple instances, messaging services, non-MySQL databases and load balancers that Amazon brings value, and all of those are part of the offering. A year is ample time for a decide if the system is right for your needs, and properly designed code should be abstracted enough to not be relying directly on AWS’s API calls.

    I would agree that the limitations of the micro-instance make it much less attractive than a regular EC2 option. It really only seems viable for experimentation, and I think that was the intent. There is nothing that I’m aware of precluding a developer from using the other instances for bandwidth or CPU intensive testing.

    I would also suggest that any developer who flees the Amazon eco-system because it’s not free forever is not the kind of client that Amazon really wants. I would point to companies like Netflix with expansive budgets and the luxury of time who make smart decisions who place their bets on Amazon. A good customer appreciates the proven value of the infrastructure, the reliability, innovation (Does Azure offer linux? Joyent JUST launched a Windows offering) the scalability, sustainability, the diverse services (SNS, SQL and NoSQL databases, instance sizes) and the API and support of the stack by third party applications and management tools.

    Let the crowd who chases the net free lunch who aren’t Amazon’s ideal client go elsewhere and tie up someone else’s resources. As a customer hosting some of my services on Amazon, I’d rather not see AWS turn into the Dreamhost of cloud hosting.

    – David Bullock
    Vice President of Technology

  2. Andy, CloudBerry Lab

    I actually think this is a great offer on top of the fact that AWS services cost pennies already. I am surprised how many people complain about the fact that they can’t take advantage of the offer as they are existing customers. We are based in a developing country where the worth of $$ is higher than in the US and still we are ok paying our bills.

  3. David Bullock

    Hi Krish,

    You keep mentioning lock in? What’s the lock in? There’s not a commitment to use the service unless you use reserved instances? The offer is just a low risk way for developers to get familiar with the environment. Could you address the points?

    Where ARE the smart developers who require free cloud computing services going?

    By the way thank you Andy, I’ve been a CloudBerry free user for some time, and just upgraded to Pro. LOVE your product.

    – David Bullock

  4. David Bullock

    Hi Krish,

    Thanks much for the clarification, and response. Great points.

    Data costs about 10 cents per gigabyte to download in small quantities. 10GB would cost a dollar. 100GB, $10.00. I typically see 600KB/sec download speeds. That’s assuming the dev data was generated in the cloud and that there’s no local copy, and is valuable, and needs to be saved or moved elsewhere.

    So if you’re in a hurry, Amazon does provide solutions for moving huge amounts of data quickly with their Import/Export service. You can send them a SATA drive up to 8TB in size. An expedited 2TB export would be under $150.00.

    No, you wouldn’t want to transfer the AMI VM. There’s no intrinsic value there: it’s just a standard Windows or Linux install with some kernel mods for the Xen virtualization environment. Just reinstall your software on your new target environment. The beauty of EC2 is that the reverse is true, you can do a lot of dev and test on in-house commodity Linux boxes, and just copy the code up to the cloud to run on EC2 when you’re ready to start working in that environment.

    I hope savvy developers don’t keep their only copy of their source on their test EC2 instance. In any event, the worst case is just to tar and bzip2 it and download. Even a huge app (1GB of code) would cost under $2.00 to retrieve.

    I suspect the real lock-in would be if the developer carelessly built dependencies into their code on the other Amazon specific services (SNS, SQS, SimpleDB, provisioning, map reduction, etc) without properly abstracting them so that they could be reimplemented easily elsewhere without a lot of rewriting.


    – Dave

  5. Nate Odell

    I read your article on cloud development with interest. Skytap provides similar functionality as Amazon Web Services with a self-service UI for a fraction of the cost and time. Hundreds of customers use Skytap for the same situation and have achieved significant time and cost savings. Check us out by signing up for a trial at

  6. David

    I agree that allowing an infinate free usage-teir would be nice. However, since no-one else is doing it yet the suits of Amazon have no reason to be considerate of the developers they are trying to make money from.

    Now, if a new cloud service shows up – they just might have to offer a ‘free-for-life’ setup to break in on amazons monopoly.

    It’s all about doing the least to win. Companies don’t care about their users for the sake of caring.