April 19, 2012
So last night, Amazon issued a press release announcing the availability of the Amazon Marketplace:
…an online store where customers can find, buy, and quickly deploy software that runs on AWS.
You can select software from well-known vendors including CA, Canonical, Couchbase, Check Point, IBM, Microsoft, SUSE, RedHat, SAP, and Zend as well as many widely used open source offerings, including WordPress, Drupal, and MediaWiki.
AWS Marketplace includes pay-as-you-go products, free software (AWS infrastructure fees still apply), and hosted software with varied pricing models.
When you find the software you’d like to purchase, you can use AWS Marketplace’s 1-Click deployment to quickly launch pre-configured server images, or deploy with familiar tools like the AWS Console. You’ll be charged for what you use, by the hour or month, and software charges will appear on the same bill as your other AWS services
Great. Awesome idea, where you can not only spin up AMI instances from the community, but from enterprises as well, and pay more money per hour for the privilege.
But surely it’s worth it, right? Lets take a look.
Now, lets take a look at the prices for running a well known OS, Redhat Enterprise.
The costs for a license of RHEL when buying it from Redhat are very clear, with scaled amounts per support tier as well as price increases for enhanced feature sets.
The costs for paying for a license of RHEL hourly are here:
So, doing a bit of math, if we look at the cost of a “large” AWS instance for a year we get:
8,766 hours in a year * $0.32 per hour = a server that costs $2,805.12 a year
Now, with the Redhat Value Add:
8,766 hours in a year * $0.38 per hour = a server that costs $3,331.08
That’s a difference of $526, when an RHEL subscription costs $349 per year. So what are they charging me the $177 extra for? Support? I’m afraid not:
I can’t figure out why they think anyone would do this. ESPECIALLY considering that there is already an RHEL AMI available to use!
Here’s a pair of terminals I’ve got running:
The only difference is that the terminal on the right costs me $526 more per year!
Now, I’m not saying that all of the Marketplace offerings are bad…but you need to watch out.
Things to look for are whether or not the stated price includes the cost of the EC2 instance, because some of them don’t. All of the 0.00/hour instances still cost money because they are running on EC2, and if you spin up a large instance of Tomcat from the Marketplace, you’re still going to get charged 32 cents every hour.
And for the love of all things holy, if you do decide to spin up an instance of something commercial, do price checks to make sure that you aren’t getting gouged. This layer of abstraction is the perfect place to hide invisible price increases, and none of us are in a good enough shape that we can throw away a lot of money on a little convenience.