Amazon Web Services upped the ante in the cloud price wars Monday by saying it would become the first major public cloud operator to start billing customers by the second for virtual servers and storage.
AWS will measure usage down to the second for EC2 compute instances and EBS (Elastic Block Store) volumes. The public cloud leader currently offers per-hour metering, while the next two trailing competitors, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure, have for several years charged by the minute.
Amazon's new billing model is only available for Linux machines and does have a 1-minute minimum charge. It applies to On-Demand, Reserved and Spot instances, according to Jeff Barr, AWS' chief evangelist.
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"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," Barr wrote on the AWS blog.
Workloads taking advantage of AWS EMR, a service offering managed big data frameworks on scalable EC2 clusters; and AWS Batch, which enables large batch processing jobs, also qualify to be billed by the second.
Per-second billing will be available in all AWS regions on October 2. AWS prices will still be listed by the hour, but customers will see bills in which their duration of usage contains decimal points, Barr said.
Jeff Aden, executive vice president of marketing and strategic development at 2nd Watch, an AWS partner based in Seattle, told CRN the new model will not only allow some customers to save more on their cloud spending, but will also create opportunities for partners to help them do it.
Per-second billing will primarily reduce costs for customers running large, complex environments. In many cases, however, to realize those savings will take another layer of management, provided either through automation tooling or partners, Aden told CRN.
"This is a big move on [AWS'] part," Aden said. "It becomes more valuable the more complex the environment becomes."
Cost-saving methodologies employed by enterprises, like auto-scaling or instance parking, can offer more value with more-granular billing, Aden said.