Amazon changes pricing structure for cloud services

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Amazon is changing the way it prices its cloud services, according to Fortune.com

Starting from next month, the company is moving to a system of billing by the second rather than by the hour.

It might surprise some people who either don’t use Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud unit, or maybe use a different provider. But Amazon was previously charging by the hour.

Critics and cynics might say that charging by the hour was probably inflating the company’s revenues from its cloud business.

By changing to per-second billing, Amazon brings its cloud pricing structure closer its main rivals’ cloud pricing systems. In fact, Amazon has gone beyond them.

Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure have both been available on per-minute billing for the past several years.

Whether they will take Amazon’s lead and move to a per-second billing system remains to be seen.

Amazon is credited with being the first company to provide cloud computing services. In fact, it popularised the obscure term which was only known by a relatively few computer experts.

When Amazon launched cloud services, through its Amazon Web Services, in 2006, it was the only big company which was offering customers the opportunity to utilise vast computing resources without asking them to manage the infrastructure.

Until then, if you wanted to use a large number of servers, you basically had to set up your own data centre, small or large.

With AWS, you could start small and scale up, or start large and scale down – whatever you wanted to do, you could do it without having to worry about the underlying infrastructure.

Amazon went one step further by introducing a new system of serverless computing, which meant that all of the hardware was virtualised.

Like cloud computing, serverless computing is also seen as an innovation popularised by Amazon, if not invented by it.

The advantage of serverless computing, of course is that you could “spin up” or create a server and then shut it down again within hours or even minutes – making it appear and disappear like magic.

This is obviously far less cumbersome and time-consuming than using an actual, physical server for the same purpose, and it’s similar to what many users are doing.

Business Insider quotes Amazon’s Jeff Barr as writing: “Many of our customers are dreaming up applications for EC2 that can make good use of a large number of instances for shorter amounts of time, sometimes just a few minutes.”

EC2 stands for Elastic Cloud 2, one of the central cloud computing platforms at AWS.

At the moment, Amazon’s per-second billing is only available on virtual servers running the Linux operating system – not the Windows servers.

Linux is probably the main cloud computing platform anyway, so Amazon’s offer probably applies to most users.

In an interview, Mike Bell, executive vice president of internet of things and devices at Canonical, the company that maintains the Ubuntu distribution of Linux, 60 per cent of public cloud platforms run the Ubuntu Linux operating system.