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Amazon AWS Free Usage Tier (amazon.com)
479 points by wave on Oct 21, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 137 comments

I think it would be better to make these available to everybody, not just to new users.

I talk to people at Amazon frequently enough to know that they don't take existing customers for granted... but doing things like this certainly doesn't help with their image in that respect.

It is a marketing campaign designed to generate reg. Marketing is about getting the right message to the right people in a way that they prefer to hear that message. In this case existing users are not the right people. People who have been thinking about trying AWS but don't want to shell out any cash are the right people.

It is not really alienation. They are investing money in converting people to their platform. Offering this to existing users makes no sense from that perspective. It is pretty standard across many industries to offer exclusive deals to new customers.

Perhaps the parent is in the same position I, and I'm sure lots of others, am in. We signed up for AWS already to check it out, but haven't used it. We are essentially the same as a new user because we currently don't subscribe to any of the paid services, but we registered too early to take advantage of this offer.

No, I'm using enough of AWS that I really wouldn't notice the free usage quota. It's the optics I care about, not the $s.

I understand the business argument. I just think it's a poor marketing decision.

But then again, I'm HN's resident marketing ignoramus, so what do I know? ;-)

Fair enough. I feel like marketing is subjective unless you can back things up with concrete numbers/facts, which i can't :)

Marketing is about getting the right message to the right people in a way that they prefer to hear that message. In this case existing users are not the right people.

That's why it's a mistake. Existing users (the wrong people) hear the message much louder than potential users, and possibly in greater numbers.

I'm sorry, but I'm unable to understand why an existing paying user should in any way, shape, or form expect to participate in a promotion to attract new users to the platform. No matter how you look at it, this is a promotion for new users. Period.

These expectations are analogous to you being a paying member on some platform, and they announce a "30 days free" promotion for new members, and you demanding that you should get to participate in that promotion. Shenanigans.

And just because AWS is pay as you go doesn't make this any different.

Why is that "shenanigans"? I've asked to be put on promotional pricing many times as an existing user of other companies and you know what... they often give it to me. Why? Because I'm free to give my money to someone else.

It's a way of showing appreciation and that they don't take you for granted. Period. (sorry, I had to)

If you aren't negotiating better terms for recurring services, then you are giving money away. Promotions are just a nice bit of leverage in negotiations.

So you believe every Amazon customer should get in the promotion of X amount of free service for a whole year without any retention mechanism?

In comparison if you ask your internet provider to bump you up from 1mbps to 2mbps (or to lower the price from 50 bucks to 40) because they have a promotion for new users, and they give it to you, providing you sign a contract for another 12 months, is not equivalent to telling the internet provider that because they are offering a free year of service (up to lets say 5 gigs of downstream bandwidth) to new customers you should do to and without a contract specifying that you're staying with the company afterwards.

I've only used amazon rds and s3 to date. These have both been pretty straight forward to set up. I've been interested in exploring using EC2 instances but haven't gotten round to it because of the learning curve with images etc. The fact that I've got to pay for the service while I'm learning it has put me off. With the free tier now I have an opportunity to give EC2 a go and see how it works. It seems a bit silly to have to create a new account for this.

Some of the free services are available to existing customers. We use SQS and welcome the free tier added there.

If you treat your existing customers well, they'll do your bidding for you. New users are important - but if you treat your existing users well, they'll go out of their way to tell other people how great you are.

I think the most effective type of marketing will always be the personal recommendation from a current user.

Though you maybe right in the aspect that "Marketing is about getting the right message to the right people", but this way Amazon is showing that it takes its existing customers for granted.

I signed up an account a month ago, and haven't used it for anything except S3. I wonder if/how I can activate the free EC2 micro for the next stage of my project, or if I have to cancel/resub.

This only applies to accounts created on or after October 20th.

And I signed up September 30th. I guess I'll just open a new account, and pay the $0.03 again to reupload my stuff to S3.

I created an AWS account about 3 years ago, but only used it for the first time this week (to create a micro EC2 instance).

Guess I'll be opening a new account too.

Hence why they should just make it available for everyone. What's the point of having a ton of new accounts to replace old accounts.

Well. I opened my account on Nov 1st. Guess what? I am being charged for it!! So is this service really "free"?? I haven't yet crossed the tier usage limits and I am being charged already!! Support has not replied yet...

According to an email I received from an Amazon representative the Free Trial applies to accounts created from 10/21 or later.

"I’ve researched your account and have confirmed your account is eligible for the AWS Free Usage Tier. Though the promotion does not actually start until November 1st accounts created from 10.21.2010 or later are eligible."

Hey breno! Whom did you contact for this information? Are you being charged for the "free" tier?

Isn't it pretty easy to make a new Amazon account..?

I would assume that they require that your Amazon account be associated with a credit card before signing you up for AWS. Regardless, I do think it's too bad that they just don't extend this to everyone (if you're already using AWS it's not like the Micro instance would be a huge jump in your bill) since it does give me a bit of a sour taste in my mouth (luckily for Amazon, AWS is just too awesome for me to really care that much). It would be nice to have a micro instance to play around with somethings. But taking the crack dealer analogy, now the first hit is free, but I'm already hooked.

Nah, you associate the credit card after making the account. I'd created an account a couple weeks ago, but didn't want to enter my credit card until I was actually going to use it.

Cancellation is done over email, and I haven't gotten anything back yet. I used another email address to make a new account.

These free tiers do not expire after 12 months and are available to both existing and new AWS customers indefinitely

Did they tell you something different or just update the page with this?

EDIT: I pulled the wrong quote. Either way, sucks that Amazon would alienate existing customers.

There's two categories of free stuff; most is limited to 12 months:

These free tiers are only available to new AWS customers and are available for 12 months following your AWS sign-up date. When your free usage expires or if your application use exceeds the free usage tiers, you simply pay standard, pay-as-you-go service rates (see each service page for full pricing details). Restrictions apply; see offer terms for more details.

That's only for SimpleDB, SQS, and SNS. All the other stuff is "only available to new AWS customers and are available for 12 months following your AWS sign-up date."

Tucked away in the offer terms is:

You will become ineligible for the Offer if, during any 3 month period, you do not [..] (b) incur fees for use of the service that exceeds the free usage amount provided under the Offer

So it is free as long as you exceed the free quotas. Hmm.

[ http://aws.amazon.com/free/terms/ ]

They appear to have deleted that from the page.

Cool. Looks like Shlomo got someone to investigate: http://twitter.com/ShlomoSwidler/status/28063124182

In case anyone is wondering, it's not like you can get a $0 bill for a whole year.

Micro instances are only available using AMI's using EBS. A Lucid Lynx AMI alone is already 15 GiB, and the free offer only provides 10 GB. Essentially, it's like a temporary price reduction per month.

Incredibly easy to game that requirement at a very minimal expense, but still.

This is mind-blowingly great, not only for them -- compete with Google App engine, and get people hooked on AWS early -- but also for young entrepreneurs, who can get a professional dev env for $0 and a year to see if their idea works.

I think this will also open the gates to developers outside the US -- $50/month for hosting might not seem too much to an American, but in other countries it can be a real barrier.

Having dealt with GAE for a while, I can say that EC2 and GAE don't create much competition for each other. Granted that user-facing result is the same - applications, yet both are a completely different model of doing applications. To that extent, I imagine developers choosing their respective platform out of these two will have different mindsets or requirements.

In GAE, you have the privilege of bypassing the administrative stuff - creating/deleting/configuring instances, choosing software, amongst other things. Quite useful for some app categories, like web-apps/web-services for verticals, where you want to concentrate on the business logic and the rest doesn't matter as long as the app works.

EC2 is great too, and attracts developers who require more freedom in terms of software architecture, and choice of components, but comes with a the non-trivial administrative costs. (I do imagine EC2 consultants being in-demand, sooner or later.)

I think both models have potential to succeed, and should be able to nicely co-exist. This free-to-jumpstart approach is perhaps targeted just to stir up AWS demand.

There are many instances of overlap. An Amazon user will use that and an GAE user will choose GAE for essentially the same projects a user of neither may consider both. "Toy projects" will often be in the last category. The parent is saying that subsequent projects might be in the first categories.

I agree with this - I have a hobby project I was considering writing for GAE (since I could run it for free), but being able to deploy on AWS for free means I could bypass having to write my program custom-fit for AppEngine's datastore and having to wrap my head around that.

I was just about to write this. I was too considering GAE to play around with a few ideas, but I would much rather deploy on AWS if it's free and without having to work around Google's specs. Great move Amazon.

I suspect Google would argue that the benefit of living within the GAE constraints is that your app will scale-out without you worrying about the number of boxes required, the schemes employed for cache clustering, etc.

Of course, any moment now there will be a blog post from somebody who signed up for 300 disposable credit cards and used 300 disposable email addresses to get a supercomputer for free.

If you have a Bank of America credit card, you can just use the ShopSafe feature. Log in to your account online and you can generate temporary card numbers to purchase something online (allocating as much allowable spending as you want), so you don't have to expose your real card number online. These are temporary numbers that get a new number, new expiration and new CCV...but behind the scenes they're tied to your real card, so they show up on your bill like normal.

I tried that once. They cut me off after 5 temp numbers in one day. I wasn't even trying to cheat -- I was just buying a bunch of stuff from different vendors.

I love this feature, do you know if its possible to do that without logging into their website? I would love to be able to create temp numbers from my phone (without having to log in and expose the rest of the functionality).

What do you use for the street address for cards like that? The verification systems I've seen are big on checking street addresses to credit cards.

Having recently implemented a CC payment system, it's not actually required by CC companies to do any kind of address verification (though companies that ship physical goods generally try). Amazon is probably more stringent.

Of course, one of those accounts would be used to host an app to manage the other 299...

Sadly, there is one thing missing. They need to allow you to run a micro instance of RDS. Then the circle would be complete and you could deploy a full application for free to the cloud. (The problem now is you'd have to run the database yourself on your one micro, which is do-able but quite lame.)

Perhaps Amazon would argue that they're giving you some free units of SimpleDB, but access to a small MySQL environment would certainly allow a huge number of open source apps to be deployed without modification.

What is the dollar value of all this free stuff?

750 hours EC2 linux micro = $15

750 hours ELB = $18.75

15GB ELB data processing = $0.12

10GB EBS, 1 month = $1.00

1 million EBS I/Os = $0.10

1GB snapshot = ? (varies a lot, but less than a dollar)

5GB S3, 2000 PUT, 20000 GET = $0.79

30GB transfer ~= $4.20

The remaining items are always free.

Total: $39.96

(Marketing value: priceless)

FYI, you can calculate any bill here: http://calculator.s3.amazonaws.com/calc5.html

available for 12 months: $479.52

Oh of course, thank you.

times 12

awesome! thanks so much! :)

Wow this is remarkable. This is simply the best time in history to be starting a new business, particularly an Internet based business. The barrier to entry is extremely low and the ability to change & improve is as flexible as Mr. Fantastic.

This is simply the best time in history to be starting a new business...

... except in the future, when it will be even easier :~)

From wikipedia: "History [...] is the study of the human past"

Great, then I will go back and procrastinate a bit more.

I'm curious how Linode and Slicehost will respond. This is pretty hard to beat.

this is my thought/fear too, as I'm in the same space.

Now, I tried 'free' before and I just about lost my shirt. I got a bunch of jerks signing up with fake names and then running up my bandwidth bills with torrents, then at the end of the month, nobody, ah, "converted" so I am not going to respond with 'free'

One of my responses could be to push my larger domains (which are quite a bit cheaper than the competition) or continue focusing on the international market. (I haven't read the fine print of the amazon offer, but I'll eat my hat if they give free accounts to, say, Brazilians.)

So yeah; my current attitude is "wait and see" - as of today I'm still selling out servers as fast as I can put them up... if that changes, I'll change something.

As for slicehost/linode, my personal guess is that they will both tout their substantial customer support advantages over amazon.

If you make your services any cheaper, I will personally unsubscribe, since I will no longer think you're in it to make a living, but offering a charity.


You really have everyone beat on price, by a mile. Too bad, there aren't enough cheap, unix-gurus to make use of it :-) People these days want an ajax console with drop-down menus for shell commands.

hah. well, I am making a living off of it.

the thing of it is, really, prices for this sort of thing should be falling with Moore's law, right?

Also, there seems to be enough cheap UNIX people to keep me busy... I've been selling out hardware about as fast as I can put it up. at this point the bottleneck is pretty solidly me.

Of course, I'm charging prices that would be pretty high margin if I was 'at scale' and, well, I'm not even close, at the moment, so I don't have as much wiggle room as I would have otherwise, but rest assured, it's profitable, at least when I don't screw it up. I've set a (I think realistic) goal to double in the next 6 months, which

The 8$/month machine sounds very interesting.

I'm quite new to VPS. I recently deployed a couple of project for customer in Linode. I am very happy with them, but at the same time, I have some hobby projects of my own that I dont want to host in a 20USD/month machine.

How are your VPSs compare to Linode?

they have better CPU than I do (and this is unlikely to change... but you know? very few things my customers do are CPU bound.)

I also give you fewer VCPU on the lower-end instances. they give you 4, I give you 1. the idea here is to optimize for the worst case (if there is contention, and you have 4 vcpus, that's more context switching and more cache flushes. on the other hand, cpu is usually mostly idle, and in that case more vcpu is more performance. My large instances have more vcpu.) I'm experimenting with my vcpu policy and may bring that more in line with linode. But really, I regard this as relatively unimportant because VPSs are rarely CPU bound.

Our disk quality is likely about the same (I use 7500rpm "enterprise" sata, which is about as good as sata gets without getting into the expensive 10K stuff, and if linode was using 10K disk, they'd be advertising the fact.) My ratio of disk to ram is 4 disks in raid 1+0 for every 32GiB ram/8 cores I'm not sure what Linode's ratio is. But Linode has better mechanisms for limiting heavy disk users than I do. (heavy in terms of performance rather than in terms of space... limiting by space is trivial.) My understanding is that they keep iop counters or similar, and first warn, then limit you if you use a lot more iops than most people. I don't do this, and sometimes overall disk performance suffers because of it. But I do plan to emulate Linode in that regard at some point.

And, of course, my most noticeable deficiency is that I do manual provisioning, and Linode has a nicely automated setup. but I'm (very slowly) catching up.

Now, I'm about half the price, too, but you already knew that.

Prices shouldn't follow Moore's law, they should follow demand.

This is a commodity with a low barrier to entry in a mostly free market. If demand pushes price beyond cost + certain amount of profit, you will see more companies entering the market. Cost falls with moors law (yeah, power costs aren't going down... but I can stuff a whole lot more compute power in the same amount of electricity than I could have two years ago.)

So, assuming the market is free (which is mostly is) and the barriers to entry are low (and they are very low.) assuming there are customers who care about price (and there are) you should see prices falling towards the cost to provide the service.

You obviously know your business :-)

As far as I am concerned, I would just like to know you're living comfortably, that's all. If you're happy, so am I.

I just signed up... I've been looking at the prgmr signup page off and on for six months and it's usually backlogged. Glad to finally get in!

I have a month-old AWS account with about $0.30 in lifetime charges on it. I never quite felt like I knew how much of a bill I was racking up when it was turned on.

...and I just noticed that I can get twice as much for $6 as I do for $5. Whoops. Hopefully I can put in an upgrade request sometime after I get provisioned. Maybe clojure can run in 64mb? I'm skeptical but we'll see.

Go to the IRC channel NOW! :-)

God! I love companies with IRC chans.

Let me reiterate what others have said: don't compromise on your current principles.

I'm a customer of yours because I know what I need, and with prgmr I pay for what I need and nothing more. It's great.

You already have the cheapest vpses, let Amazon deal with those who won't pay anything.

My only complaint so far has been that I can't seem to figure out where I reset my key (I lost the original to a dead computer), while I still have root I don't dare reboot it because if it doesn't come up I can't fix it.

we should have gotten you on email. we actually have about half the code to automate that, but we haven't finished integrating it with everything else, so we verify the email by hand, etc...

How have I not heard/seen your service before?

Basically Linode competes on customer service and support!

If by customer service and support, you mean reliability, then I agree with you. The whole point of buying hosting is it should just stay up. Prompt customer support isn't worth very much when you have to use it to find out why your server went down.

that's futile in the commodity business

Is it? This isn't coal and steel we are talking about.

It will be in the long run.

I would hope that Linode doesn't do anything price-wise otherwise it is entering into race the bottom (I'm a L customer, don't care as much what SH do).

For me, the AWS free account is to more about letting developers play around with the unique features(/challenges) of AWS before needing to actually deploy a real product. There are a lot of unique things to consider with AWS that you don't have to deal with on regular VPSs.

This isn't about creating a free tier of hosting, and if Linode did offer something like this I'd be concerned about the potential impact on the hypervisor machine load and additional support impact.

Wow, the list of excuses to not attempt a startup is getting shorter and shorter. Ideas? Check. (See HN the past few days) Page design? Check. (Web page templates with free samples) Hosting costs? Check. Now Free for a year with AWS without being tied to a specific language/framework.

This is very competitive with the free Azure services Microsoft is offering to MSDN subscribers: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/subscriptions/ee461076.aspx

[Disclaimer - I work on Windows Azure]

Microsoft also offers a free promotion to all new subscribers (click "view details" link under "Buy Now" button): http://www.microsoft.com/windowsazure/offers/

From the site:

Included each month at no charge:

* 25hrs small compute instance

* 500MB storage

* 10,000 storage transactions

* SQL Azure 1GB Web Edition database (3months only)

Any monthly usage in excess of the above amounts will be charged at the standard rates. This introductory special will end on March 31, 2011 and all usage will then be charged at the standard rates.

The difference is, Azure locks you into a closed platform.

If, by closed platform you mean Windows, how is that different from EC2, which locks you into either the closed platform of Windows or the closed platform of Linux?

Either way, it's a pretty big platform to be locked into. Kinda like saying your new laptop locks you into a closed platform.

how is Linux a closed platform?

Is it as easy to move from Azure to a co-located windows box as it is to move from ec2 to a co-located Linux box? (e.g. install the image on the new box and replace the kernel?)


* = after spending a minimum of $5,469 on a subscription

Yes, that was my point, but I totally forgot to make it!

Microsoft's Bizspark program also has a free MSDN subscription, and anyone who reads Hacker News could easily get into Bizspark. Your entire project does not need to be on Windows to be accepted into Bizspark, just some part that needs, say, the desktop development tools. In fact, the application process does not make much inquiry into just what your project is.

> Now a someone who's purely back-end can actually take software he's written, and just throw it on some EC2 instances and sell it directly to consumer internet companies. There's no need to take a job with these companies now and...there's no need to release your software. http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1788558

That was in cloud vs. opensource... but I hereby humbly propose 8ren's amazingly wonderful Open Service concept:

The cloud is the future, not only for the backend, but also components within it - including middleware. Theoretically, arbitrary functionality can be a service - literally, any "function" (in the math sense - or stateful). That is, anything that was previously open source.

It might even get to the point where the economics make sense to use an "open service" instead of hosting it yourself, analogous to conventional open source. This would require hosting that is: (1) practically free; (2) very high performance; (3) very high availability; (4) security/privacy mechanisms. We may be closer than you'd think - eg. if EC2 hosted "Open Services" for free, which would naturally be faster for EC2 paid services, making those paid services more attractive. Then the competition needs to match it... Google might do it too (already does, within its app engine).

To qualify for this amazing free hosted Open Service? Be open source.

You might be interested in Jeff Lindsay's Public Open Source Services idea :



Thanks, I like his market payment model esp how demand modulates supply - but I believe that just the fact of payment adds admin overhead/transaction costs, and slows adoption - you might as well charge a little more and make it a business.

I think my suggested payment model makes Open Services easier to adopt, because it has no admin overhead. The API is there, you call it, done. It is paid for by amazon/google, because it benefits their paying customers - who indirectly pay for it. Note that they would be paying for its hosting anyway, if they deployed that open source themselves.

- There would be admin savings from having just one deployment (more efficient for everyone).

- And it would be just as fast, if deployed in the same cloud (theoretically - I'm assuming a coarse-grained IPC world, where apps are built by assembling services anyway, which is where we're headed. I'm thinking of it like static method calls in Java, that so get JIT inlined/stitched into one big lump at runtime, even though they are in separate modules (class files)).

- Plus, these free Open Services act as an advertisement and enticement to non-EC2 users (or free users) - and once you've started using EC2-hosted Open Services, the easiest step up is of course to move to becoming a paid EC2 yourself. There's a bit of lock-in. So it is in Amazon's interest, too. So it's economically a little bit like advertiser-subsidized TV. And technologically, it's like Google's many free API's (eg. map API), but the case is more compelling for the supplier, because it costs the same to provide, but more directly pulls in paying customers.

- I agree there would sometimes be issues with how much processing power it gets (Dos attacks, abuse in general), but this is a complex issue, and I think you'd need to actually run it for a time to discover the real issues and experiment with solutions. But the vast majority of open source projects are not used by anybody - these aren't using any resources (apart from memory, which is close to 0 cost), and so their cost is negligible.

- once one hoster provides it, it gives them a competitive advantage, and other hosters need to match it to stay in the game.

- over time, with Moore's law, the hoster's cost of providing these Open Service approaches zero.

I think it's inevitable for Open Services to begin and spread (or something functionally similar).

Interesting that it lists 30GB data transfer (15 in/out) as one of the items. All inbound data transfer is currently free anyways for everyone. It's been due to expire at regular intervals, but they keep extending this further (presumably to compete with Azure). I wonder if this indicates they will finally eliminate free inbound data transfer for customers...hopefully not.

The free incoming is currently set to expire on November 1st, exactly when this starts. I'd like to see the free incoming continue, but this timing looks like a bad sign. :-(

I'm not a web developer but somewhat curious, so please excuse this potentially inane question: How much can I actually do with one Micro Instance? Is it comparable to, say, a VPS in terms of handling and capabilities?

Or is it an entirely different animal?

This is pretty comparable to a Linode 512 slice, but with a little more memory. The configuration is VASTLY different however. EC2 instances are basically writable CD images -- which is to say, whatever you 'imprint' it with as the image is what it will be every time it's rebooted. You can store /tmp and /dev/null content on the instance just fine, so long as you know they won't be there when you reboot. You are free to take 'snapshots' of important changes (like, I just deployed my new app, let's create a new image).

To supplement this, they're also offering Elastic Block, which is an on-demand, resizable static partition. This is your long-term disk, but it's sold seperately, and has different usage / pricing metrics.

Generally speaking, you allocate your storage, then build your EC2 image, then create a mount, set up your application / server configuration / etc, then take a snapshot. That snapshot is the image you'll boot in the future.

That is correct for classic ec2 instances, but in this particular case the offer is for a "micro" instance which uses ebs booting. So it works less like your writable cd image analogy and more like what you'd have with linode



Is it feasible at all to (ab-)use this free Micro instance as a real development machine for running little experiments? Assuming I keep one instance running at all times, without adding any new ones, it seems like I could just ignore the fluid snapshot system and treat it like a bog-standard VPS.

So, the reliability may not be there for that. If an instance crashes, or becomes unavailable, or is, at the whim of Amazon, turned off, you've completely lost your settings.

You can still use them as a standard VPS, of course, if you just take a little care and mount a static file system up front, then use that for all dynamic content/database store/uploads/etc.

The only real difference is that your persistent file store is completely separate from the instance, which threw me for a big loop when they were new, but has become old hat since then.

I don't know what the reliability is nowadays, but there used to be (when it was very new) complaints that the instances would crash or come offline without notice, and that as with all things, it would happen at very inconvenient times. With care, and forethought, it's preventable, of course; but what happened then was people trying to do exactly what you suggest, only to be thwarted by the unreliability of the system.

Of course, the beauty of it, if planned for, is that it doesn't NEED to be reliable. If you use the Elastic Load Balancer, you can spool up pre-configured instances at the drop of a hat that service demand, and if one crashes, it's easy enough to replace with a brand new instance. The instances can all share a persistent file store, they can all be dynamically registered with the load balancer. They can all function on their own with relative autonomy (which is how businesses like CloudKick make their money.)

If nothing else, I'd advise you take advantage of this deal and play around with it. It's a neat little system, and their elastic IP addresses are something of a thought exercise at the beginning, and nothing short of brilliant after you've figured it out. You'll learn something, and that's always worth something.

This is an absolutely brilliant move. Trying to figure out pricing estimates often discourages me from launching more stuff on AWS. Knowing I can get a feel for it, for free, is a real game changer. This gives my projects a strong base to start with.

A few observations: - I wonder if you could create a new account for each of your projects (er.. startups) or if Amazon would frown on that. - They seem to be extremely generous with this offer, except for the Amazon S3 limits. 20,000 GETs? That's nothing for the kind of resources that S3 is best at hosting.

I wonder if you could create a new account for each of your projects (er.. startups) or if Amazon would frown on that.

How many credit cards do you have? I suspect that if they see you using the same credit card on many accounts they'll "suggest" that you should be using consolidated billing.

It does say you need a valid credit card, which should deter most people who aren't out to ruin their credit rating. Maybe businesses can mint multiple CCs without dinging their rating but it would be riskier for them...

Couldn't you use one of those rechargeable temporary credit cards? The ones they use to grant people with bad credit a semblance of a normal life..

They need to clarify the terms, it is unclear if this minimum usage is free or if they will cancel your account if you go over. These are both in their agreement:

"You also will be charged AWS’s standard rates for any use that exceeds the free usage amount provided under the Offer."

"You will become ineligible for the Offer if, ... (b) incur fees for use of the service that exceeds the free usage amount provided under the Offer. ..."

1995: The best deal I could find was $1500 a month for 1mbit, (I was spending (in 1995 dollars)) $4500 for 3mbit, and I spent 5k or so building the server for what would become planetquake.com

What is happening now in both available (and free!) cloud computing resources and the entire lean startup mentality is so far beyond my comprehension I don't even know how to compare the two startup worlds of 1995 and 2010.


Great, I just signed up for a new account yesterday. Are secondary accounts not allowed?

Wow that's... Cool but not that great of a deal. You need to create a new account, and you only get 30gb of bandwidth. If you exceed any of the limits it all converts to paid services. Plus, it's only for a year. Good for learning ec2, but I'll stick with heroku or google app engine for my freebies.

As an aside, I realize how crazy it is to say that a year lease on a vps for free is not a great deal. This is an amazing, magical time for web developers/programmers.

If you exceed any of the limits it all converts to paid services.

That's not how I read: "You also will be charged AWS’s standard rates for any use that exceeds the free usage amount provided under the Offer."

Maybe I mis-read it. I keep coming back to this line which seems to imply otherwise: When your free usage expires or if your application use exceeds the free usage tiers, you simply pay standard, pay-as-you-go service rates

It looks like the 2 different terms are contradictory. We may have to wait and see if they clarify whether you just have to pay the extra fees or if you are completely switched to a paid account if you go over.

Of course, it would make sense if you only paid for the 'extra' charges if you went over. It would be kind of sneaky if they charged you for the whole thing if you went over. I hope they do clarify this.

Lawyer stuff aside, what can I do if I don't want to exceed those limits? I could monitor everything myself and stop the services when the limits are reached, but I would prefer an automatic solution offered by Amazon. I don't want any credit card surprises while I'm still learning.

Well, I think that using the Amazon API you could monitor that stuff and shut it all down if you exceeded the limits, but you'd have to program all of that to happen.

I agree, it would be nice if amazon could allow you to put some hard limits on all of the AWS services. That's why I haven't used AWS yet - I'm afraid of that 10K bill if I should 'accidentally' hit the front page of Digg/Reddit/HN.

This is a great move that will hopefully have the side effect of VPS services reevauting their current plans. Slicehost/Rackspace for starters should have done so a long time ago. Linode is a slightly better option, but they are still going to be under pressure to make a better deal now. A great move by Amazon to help make the entrance into web based software easier. Sadly my needs require around 17 instances so I'm out of luck :P

No, I don't believe a $20/month base plan on Linode is a true barrier for anyone seriously considering deploying a real app.

If you can't be sure that $20/month makes sense then you've wasted a lot of time building an app. If you don't have the $20/month then surely anyone capable of developing an app can work for a few hours on a project for someone and make more than enough to cover a year's hosting.

If you just want a shell account to dick about with then Linode isn't for you and I don't think it's unfair to suggest that us folks running businesses off Linode instances don't want your eggdrops and IRC servers on there either.

Excuse me, but what exactly are you disagreeing with? I said three things:

1) This move by Amazon is good because it will probably force Rackspace, Linode, et cetera to reevaluate their plans and make better offerings. This doesn't only affect the $20 plan, it affects all the plans. Hell with my requirements I'd be spending $1360 a month in Linode, in which case wouldn't you like paying a Benjamin or two less if you where in a similar position?

2) Anyone that doesn't have any infrastructure in place yet would be a fool not to take advantage of this promotion to help bootstrap their app. Hell if it doesn't work out you saved the equivalent $360 the experiment would have costed you in Linode.

3) That sadly I can't use this promotion because I already have an infrastructure in place consisting of 17 instances and other Amazon services.

Where did I suggest anything about eggdrops and IRC servers? So are you implying Linode is not for me because I need 17 servers? Did you even read the comment before trying to refute something I haven't said?

I'm not sure what the Elastic Load Balancer is for when it's only a single EC2 instance.

I'm assuming it can load balance to paid EC2 instances also. Even if not, it would let potential customers learn how to use it.

It makes it so there is less friction to spinning up more paid instances.

Off-loads SSL now.

Somehow they should work it out so that a credit card is not required. Google keeps spam under control by verifying real people through SMS.

I don't think the credit card is meant to reduce spam. It's meant to let them seamlessly charge you for overage.

GAE manages to give you the option of not having overages at all.

A customer without credit card data is not worth $400 in credits.

Google seems to think that customers without credit card data are worth this: http://code.google.com/appengine/docs/quotas.html .

Be it $400, $100 or $50, AWS could (in my opinion should) go that extra mile and offer some option without requiring credit cards if it truly wants to take on GAE in this regard.

GAE has an advantage because it can put an app to sleep and wake it up on demand. So, Amazon's marginal cost of services is higher given that they must model the behavior of a physical box in terms of responsiveness. At a minimum, Amazon must maintain RAM allocation for the server, right?

It's also not even clear Google cares a lot about GAE profitability. When it first came out, there was only the free version, and the limits were there just to keep usage reasonable. As with many Google things, it seems like it was basically something they built internally for internal use, and then decided to make available to the internet for free.

Only after much clamoring by people who actually wanted to pay Google money for more usage did they offer a way to pay for higher quotas, almost a year after the initial rollout.

Which annoys the hell out of me, since they insist on getting a phone number to sign up for gmail now - but while I have plenty of credit cards, I do not have a phone.

There are quite a lot of free VOIP providers who will just give you a real phone number which you can use for incoming calls for free. Might be worth getting one of those and pointing a soft client at it when you want to be able to take calls.

Thanks for the suggestion. I used to have a Skype number, but dropped it since I was only ever using skype-skype calls or calling numbers myself with it. If there's a free option out there, sounds good to me.

I'll probably get an Android phone sometime soon enough, though. But I tell myself that the longer I wait, the more advanced it will be!

I wonder what this would do for the startup community. Free hosting for a year means, all you really need is an idea.

And the ability to turn that idea into an actual product, lest we forget.

I was alluding to the initial dilemma of where to host, how to host etc. Ideas without the implementations are just that, ideas.

Interesting. Didn't expect that from Amazon. Nice gesture indeed.

So how do I deploy RoR onto AWS? </complete-sys-admin-novice>

That was awesome......it's an even better response than RTFM!

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