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Amazon EC2 Goes Micro

Perhaps it’s the nature of the business – as a technology journalist, when I talk to people about the path to widespread adoption and acceptance of cloud computing, the emphasis is usually on the things that need to be in place in order to convince enterprise organizations that the cloud is secure and reliable, that the cloud can meet their demands for high scalability and performance.

But despite all the hoopla (I almost typed “hadoop”) about big data and infinite scalability, there remains a number of use cases, not to mention a whole chunk of the small business world, that really don’t require massive instances or computing power. And perhaps meeting the needs of that market, as much as the needs of large companies, will be the road to cloud computing’s normalization.

If that’s the case, then Amazon Web Service’s announcement today of Micro Instances is great news for small businesses and great news for small computing projects (but maybe not so great news for Amazon’s competitors).

AWS announced today new EC2 Micro Instances. Micro Instances are geared towards low traffic sites and low throughput applications. They’re available in 32 and 64 bit versions with 613 MB of RAM. And here’s the clincher, the price: $.02 per hour for a Linux/Unix instance and $.03 per hour for Windows.

The Micro Instances can be monitored with CloudWatch to judge the CPU utilization – important because these instances are really not designed for any substantial volume of requests (only about ten requests per minute). But as AWS Evangelist Jeff Barr notes, “at this low a price you could run CloudWatch configured for Auto Scaling with two Micro Instances behind an Elastic Load Balancer for just under the price of one CloudWatch-monitored Standard Small instance.”

The latter runs a little under $90 per month for Windows and $60 for Linux. For many small businesses with minimal usage, that’s probably more than they’re willing to budget, and Amazon’s Micro Instances may come at a price that makes the move to the cloud more affordable.

Amazon lowered its prices earlier this month on a couple of its high-memory, extra-large instances, and today’s announcement offers a very competitive price at the other end of the computing scale. How its competitors will respond will be interesting to watch, as will the adoption and utilization of today’s new Micro Instances.

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