Amazon AWS extends the boundaries of free ‘outbound’ data transfer

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Amazon’s AWS cloud department has announced a remarkable extension of their free level, increasing the amount of data that customers can transfer from AWS regions to the Internet and from their CloudFront content delivery network (CDN) before they have to start paying.

This move is likely designed to address growing criticism of high data transfer fees as well as competitive action from other cloud companies. In addition, it serves to keep smaller customers on board as they – and their need for cloud infrastructure – grow.

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Cloud infrastructure spending is going through the roof, and Amazon has emerged as the runaway market leader, accounting for about a third of all public cloud spending. The free AWS tier – first launched by Amazon back in 2010 – is a key component of Amazon’s cloud strategy, acting as a kind of “carrot on a stick” to entice developers and businesses on board to try all the juicy cloud things for free before committing hard dollars.

But as with almost every industry, competition means companies often have to review their prices and structures to ensure that any new (or old) boy on the block does not steal their business. Just a few months ago, the CDN giant Cloudflare announced its arrival at the object storage space in style and challenged the Amazon S3 with its very own Cloudflare R2 Storage. This included full API compatibility with the S3, but without the expensive output bandwidth fees that cloud providers like Amazon charge.

Output fees are essentially “hidden” fees charged when a company wants to lift data out of a company’s cloud and move it elsewhere, and is often seen as a way for vendors to “lock in” their customers. As such, Cloudflare launched the Bandwidth Alliance back in 2018, when Oracle recently joined a network of 19 cloud companies committed to eliminating “unnecessary data transfer fees.”

All of this fuss has probably put pressure on the major cloud providers – or at least AWS – to reconsider their approach to excessive exit fees.

Amazon will now increase the amount of data that companies at their free level can transfer from AWS to the Internet without paying, increasing from 1 GB per. region to 100 GB of data each month – this includes Amazon S3, EC2 and Elastic Load Balancing. Two notable exceptions here are data transfers from AWS GovCloud and AWS China regions, which will not see any changes.

Amazon’s CloudFront CDN, meanwhile, will now offer up to 1 terabyte (TB) of data transfer per month, representing a significant increase over the 50 GB previously offered. Interestingly, Amazon is also removing the 12-month trial period, which means this will be a permanent fixture for CloudFront users. Finally, Amazon is also increasing the number of free HTTP and HTTPs requests from 2 million to 10 million.

The changes announced today will take effect on December 1, 2021.


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