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Amazon Offers MySQL Cloud Service, Cuts Server Fees

In a preemptive strike at Microsoft, Amazon Web Services offers a relational database in the cloud, high-memory configurations, and cuts hourly fees for its Windows and Linux servers.

Amazon is adding a relational database and "high memory" options to Amazon Web Services, and cutting the per-hour fees it charges for Linux and Windows servers on its popular Elastic Compute Cloud. The moves come a few weeks in advance of Microsoft's launch of competing cloud services.

Amazon's new Relational Database Service makes available MySQL database instances of up to 1 Terabye each. Amazon already offers two other database services, Simple DB and EC2's Elastic Block Store. Amazon RDS is aimed at developers and companies that want to run MySQL databases, while leaving the administrative work to Amazon. As part of the service, Amazon provides database provisioning, patching, and backup.

Amazon RDS is available in five sizes: small, large, extra large, double XL, and quadruple XL (1 Tbyte). Customers can scale the server and storage resources associated with the MySQL instances through an API call.

Amazon is also introducing high memory options for EC2 customers with memory-intensive applications that such as caching and rendering. Users can now select AWS computing instances with two to four times the amount of memory of a standard configuration.

In addition, Amazon is cutting hourly fees for Linux and Windows servers on EC2. Beginning Nov. 1, the cost of Linux-based server instances will drop 15%, from 10 cents per hour for a small Linux instance to 8.5 cents per hour. The cost of Windows Server instances will drop from 12.5 cents per hour to 12 cents per hour for a small configuration.

The new cost structure for Windows Server instances brings Amazon's hourly fees in line with what Microsoft will charge for it forthcoming Windows Azure servers. Microsoft announced in July, in advance of Azure services availability, that it would offer Windows Azure servers for 12 cents per hour. Microsoft's Azure services are due for general availability in November.

At the time of Microsoft's pricing announcement, InformationWeek calculated that a half-cent difference in server pricing translated into savings of $43.80 per year for a customer running a single Windows Server instance 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for an entire year. Amazon has now eliminated what had been a price advantage for Microsoft's Azure services.

As part of its Azure portfolio, Microsoft will offer SQL Azure Database, a cloud service based on its SQL Server relational database. Amazon's MySQL-based RDS, in beta testing now, will compete with that service.

Amazon offers Windows Server instances on EC2 through a licensing agreement with Microsoft. The two companies will likely find themselves in growing competition in cloud services as Microsoft's Azure services gain traction. Amazon doesn't disclose the size of its AWS business; its cloud services revenues are included in an "other" category in Amazon's financial results. In its most recent quarter, which ended Sept. 30, Amazon's "other" revenue grew 29% to $138 million.

InformationWeek and Dr. Dobb's have published an in-depth report on how Web application development is moving to online platforms. Download the report here (registration required).

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