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Reverse Zone, weblog on urban planning, sustainability, and technology.

Martin Laplante

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Wed, 28 Jan 2009

Amazon CloudFront New Pricing, Cheap At A Million Dollars

I am a fan and a user of Amazon's Cloudfront Content Delivery Network (CDN). If you host content that is available internationally, it is a good way to put some of the static files on a set of servers that is close to the user, so that they can load it faster. It is a self-serve metered solution that calculates to the penny how much you use and charges relatively low rates, about 17-22 cents per gigabyte depending on location.

Today Amazon sent me an e-mail telling me their prices are going down. I like price decreases. As low as 5 cents per gigabyte in high volume, they say. But get to the fine print on the Amazon CloudFront site and you see that the savings are only for those who use more than more than 250 TB per month. 250 Terabytes is a lot of bytes for a single hosting account.

So how much do you have to pay them to get to that level? Have a look at your web server's latest daily log file. Is it less than one billion lines long? Then you don't qualify. 250 Terabytes divided by an average file size of 10 kb, a biggish image or a longish javascript file, is about 25 billion GETs a month or roughly a billion a day. How many hundred million uncached visitors does your web site get on an average day? To get to that 5 cents they talk about you have to use over a petabyte, 1,000 terabytes, of transfer per month. Google's total US bandwidth usage, including mail, web crawling and so forth but excluding YouTube is about 60 petabytes.

If you do the math, adding up the price of the bandwith and the extra penny per ten thousand GETs, you have to pay Amazon over $50,000 per month before you start seeing seeing any of that discount. If you spend a million dollars a year on bandwidth, you save about $2,500. I personally spend a lot less than a million dollars a year on hosting, so it was hardly worth sending me an e-mail about it.


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