Amazon Offering EC2 Access at No Charge

Amazon Web Services is rolling out an offer on Nov. 1 for new customers that provides one year of access to a "micro instance" on its Elastic Compute Cloud, as well as a number of other services, at no charge.

The offer includes 750 hours' use per month of a Linux micro instance, including 613MB of memory as well as 32- and 64-bit support, along with 750 hours' monthly use of the Elastic Load Balancer tool and 15GB worth of data processing.

Amazon is also providing limited amounts of monthly storage and data transfers for one year.

Customers can use the new usage tier to run applications as well as for testing, training and development purposes, Amazon said Thursday.

Also Thursday, Amazon announced a no-charge usage tier for its SimpleDB tool, Simple Queue Service and Simple Notification Service, which will remain available indefinitely to both new and current customers.

The 750-hour block of instance time is enough to let new customers run a micro instance throughout the month, Amazon noted. But standard AWS pricing rates will apply once the year is up, or if customers exceed certain service allotments.

Amazon may also reclaim unused resources granted under the offer after giving the customer 30 days' notice, according to a spokeswoman.

Overall, Amazon's offer reflects a time-tested strategy by tech vendors wherein customers are given free access for a limited time, in hopes they will become dependent on or grow to like a product enough to start paying for it.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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