AWS Marketplace: A New Moneypit

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.

Here are the current prices for running EC2 instances:

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.

  • Scott

    I think it’s pretty obvious that this is a bad deal for people who are going to run a RHEL license always-on for a full year, but it makes more sense if you just need a lab environment for a week or something. $0.06 / hr to rent a fully legit RHEL license isn’t that bad.

    On the subject of running an instance for a full year, don’t forget that you can run a reserved instance and pay a lot less. At anything over 6 months of always-on use you’re better off reserving the instance for the entire year.

  • Scott

    As an example, that large instance you quote at $2,805.12 a year is closer to $1480 if you reserve the instance.

  • Scott:

    Granted that a reserve price is cheaper than a full price, but the price difference is still identical.

    The only real-world scenarios I see this being useful are for a very temporary (< 1/2 year) project that you expect to be very bursty and you need enterprise Linux updates for (and without support, there's no reason to run RHEL in this scenario).

  • Great points and something to keep in mind when purchasing these services. It is just convenience fee of extra $0.02 per hour(price difference between the license). Not sure if you can bring your own license for RHEL AMI and save on license costs if running for a full year. If you want to run a self-supported redhat image for more than 8 months, then it probably makes sense to get your individual license.

  • Actually RedHat is only getting $420.80 for the year, because AWS takes a 20% referral fee on all sales. $420 is still a 17% markup, but as Scott points out, perhaps RedHat is trying to factor in whether system will be 100% uptime or not.