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2/14/2013
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Amazon Drops Prices On Multiple Zone Database Service

Amazon wants more of its relational database customers to upgrade to two "availability zones," which ensures automated failover in case of outages.

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Amazon Web Services (AWS) has cut 15% to 32% off the price of a relational database deployment with automated failover capabilities. The reduction occurred in what it calls its Multiple Availability Zone (Multi-AZ) database deployments and applies to instances of both MySQL and Oracle.

Amazon pricing is specific to region, such as U.S. East or U.S. West, so the reduction amount will depend on where the Multi-AZ deployment occurs. A small server running a multi-zone instance of MySQL or Oracle in U.S. East has been reduced 15% from $0.18 to $0.153 per hour; the same pricing holds true for U.S. West (Oregon). In U.S. West (Northern California), however, the reduction was from $0.23 to $0.187. Data centers are cheaper to operate in Oregon, close to inexpensive hydropower and cool, dry air.

The steepest reduction, 32%, applied to Amazon Web Services' newest region, Sao Paulo, Brazil, where prices dropped from $0.30 to $0.204.

[ Want more on how cloud competitors have cut prices? See Microsoft Answers Amazon With Azure Cloud Price Cuts. ]

In the Dublin, Ireland, Amazon facility, pricing fell 27%, from $0.23 to $0.167. Three centers in Asia Pacific -- Singapore, Tokyo and Sydney -- all saw reductions of 15%; in Tokyo's case, from $0.24 to $0.204.

Any database instance activated under AWS's relational database service automatically gets a live backup copy, with failover automated between the two. Such an architecture protects against the failure of a disk containing data the database needs or failure of the database system itself.

But with the Multi-AZ option, the backup will be created in a different availability zone from the primary copy. In Amazon lingo, an availability zone is roughly an independent data center, or section of a data center complex, with its own supply of communications and power. If one availability zone loses power, others at the same location should not be affected. For instance, Amazon offers five zones in its most popular facility, U.S. East.

As usual in the case of price reductions, the announcement came in a blog by Jeff Barr, AWS chief evangelist, on Feb. 13. They were retroactive to Feb. 1. "We are making the Multi-AZ deployment model an even better value, with price reductions ranging from 15% to 32%," he wrote.

Amazon has repeatedly urged customers to make use of different availability zones if they want to ensure that their databases and other workloads continue to run in the event of an outage. But in most instances, the second copy has resulted in a second server charge, running up the user's routine costs and redeemed only in the unlikely event of an outage.

The price reductions announced for Multi-AZ RDS instances will give customers a big incentive to adopt a second zone in database operations. They represent an overdue modification to AWS pricing, if Amazon wants to more broadly encourage the adoption of multiple availability zone ops.

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