Amazon’s AWS expands free ‘egress’ data transfer limits


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Amazon’s AWS cloud division has announced a notable expansion of its free tier, increasing the amount of data that customers can transfer from AWS regions to the internet, and from its CloudFront content delivery network (CDN), before they have to start paying.

This move is likely designed to counter growing criticism over excessive data transfer fees, as well as competitive moves from other cloud companies. Moreover, it serves to keep smaller customers on board as they — and their cloud infrastructure needs — grow.

Big spenders

Cloud infrastructure spending is going through the roof, and Amazon has emerged as the runaway market leader, accounting for around a third of all public cloud spend. The free AWS tier — which Amazon first launched back in 2010 — is a key component of Amazon’s cloud strategy, serving as a “carrot on a stick” of sorts to lure developers and companies on board to try all the juicy cloud things for free before committing hard dollars.

But as with just about every industry, competition means that companies often have to review their prices and structures to ensure that any new (or old) kid on the block doesn’t steal their business. Just a couple of months back, CDN giant Cloudflare announced its arrival in the object storage space in a big way, challenging Amazon’s S3 with its very own Cloudflare R2 Storage. This included full API compatibility with S3, but without the costly egress bandwidth fees that cloud providers such as Amazon charge.

Egress fees are essentially “hidden” fees charged whenever a company wants to lift data out of a company’s cloud and move it elsewhere, and is often seen as a way for vendors to “lock” their customers in. As such, Cloudflare launched the Bandwidth Alliance back in 2018, with Oracle recently joining a network of 19 cloud companies that have committed to eliminating “unnecessary data transfer fees.”

All this hullabaloo has likely heaped pressure on the big cloud providers — or AWS, at least — to rethink their approach to excessive egress fees.

Amazon will now be increasing the amount of data that companies on its free tier can transfer out of AWS to the internet without paying, rising from 1 GB per region to 100 GB of data each month — this includes Amazon S3, EC2, and Elastic Load Balancing. Two notable exceptions here are data transfers from AWS GovCloud and AWS China regions, which won’t see any changes.

Amazon’s CloudFront CDN, meanwhile, will now offer up to 1 terabytes (TB) of data transfers per month, representing a sizable increase on the 50 GB that was offered previously. Interestingly, Amazon is removing the 12-month trial period too, meaning this will be a permanent fixture for CloudFront users. Finally, Amazon is also increasing the number of free HTTP and HTTPs requests from 2 million to 10 million.

The changes announced today will be effective from December 1, 2021.


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