AWS Slashes Cloud Data Transfer Prices

Provider addresses what many perceive as 'hidden cost' of cloud computing

Jason Verge

December 5, 2014

3 Min Read
AWS Slashes Cloud Data Transfer Prices
Network room in a data center

You can almost set your watch to cloud price cuts. The most recent cuts by Amazon Web Services, however, are not for compute and storage but for outbound data transfer. AWS has cut data transfer pricing on transfers out of its cloud, and both ways for CloudFront CDN.

The cost for moving data out has been cut significantly -- by a quarter to a third, depending on the regions. The CDN pricing dropped 26 to 29 percent for the first 10 TB.

This cut follows Amazon's announcement of simplified Reserve Instance (RI) pricing earlier this week. The company has now made close to fifty price cuts overall, and the rest of the cloud market has continually cut prices of their own.

The most recent pricing moves by Google, Amazon, and Azure have focused away from compute and storage and towards unique wrinkles like sustained usage (Google) or simpler RI (AWS). The good news is this is adding some differentiation to the public clouds. The bad news is you now need a math PhD to figure out your bill.

Data transfer pricing has been lobbed as criticism overall, with AWS historically pricier than counterparts Azure and Google, as well as IBM SoftLayer and CenturyLink. The new pricing puts outbound from cloud to Internet -- the most expensive bandwidth-- in line with the competition.

Price cutting by cloud players has been primarily focused on compute and storage, but data transfer is the somewhat hidden expense with cloud. For some, it’s trivial, but for companies that rely heavily on data transfer out, these costs are significant. The price cuts might make AWS more suitable for certain applications and processes that rely on continuous or frequent data transfer out.

Cloud pricing in general remains complex, as there is a variety of factors to consider. Take RightScale’s analysis for AWS versis Google reserve instance pricing. For something meant to simplify pricing, it still takes several charts and comparisons to figure out which company is cheaper.

There is a wealth of considerations and factors just for reserve instances. AWS simplified reserve pricing still puts Google at a price advantage, according to RightScale, but that statement is not without several caveats.

One of the sells for cloud has been that it makes life a little easier for IT. This is true, as it put flexible and theoretically unlimited resources in a customer’s hands. The CFO gets to defer CapEx to OpEx and arguably sees significant savings, but his or her life now involves sprawling calculations. It has provided an opportunity for third parties to offer cost calculators and for research firms to try and make simple comparison metrics.

AWS' first big cut in data transfer occured in 2008, following increasing criticism of bandwidth as a somewhat hidden cost to doing business with cloud. After that cut, users with data transfer of more than 150 terabytes a month were paying 10 cents per GB of outbound transfer, compared to 17 cents for those with less than 10 terabytes.

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