Amazon has added SMS to its arsenal of notification types for its Simple Notification Service (SNS). Developers can use this with CloudWatch to send texts when CloudWatch sounds an alarm, or they can create applications that push information to users independently of CloudWatch.

Amazon has had SNS for some time, and has supported notifications through email, JSON, Amazon SQS, and HTTP/S.

The upshot of this, of course, is it will make it much easier to send notifications directly to cell phones. So system admins, developers and any other interested parties will be able to get notifications of system outages or other alerts much more easily.


Pricing for notifications via SMS is free for the first 100, and then $0.75 for each 100 messages after that. Right now the service is limited to US phone numbers, and SMS notifications are only available to AWS instances in US East. Other regions and countries will be rolled out later.

Note that pricing only includes the SNS service. AWS customers will also have to pay extra above the free tier for monitoring or above the number of custom metrics included with CloudWatch.

Messages are limited to 140 ASCII (or 70 Unicode) characters, and that limit does include the prefix of the alert. Prefixes are determined by the topic for the message chosen by the AWS customer, so keep ’em short. (LOL CRASH is probably not an appropriate prefix.)

One quibble with the service as described: Amazon says you can text “STOP” or “QUIT” to unsubscribe, but there’s no “PAUSE” mentioned. Having been on the receiving end of a flood of messages from automated systems, I’d want an option to halt the messages for some period of time. It also doesn’t sound terribly flexible for when recipients are on vacation, so here’s hoping Amazon makes these easier to manage while it’s working to roll them out across its other regions.

So, AWS developers, planning to implement SMS alerts for your AWS instances?

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