Apparently deciding that a random Thursday afternoon was simply not awesome until it dropped a bombshell, cloud computing leader Amazon said it will now give away a free year of Amazon Web Services (AWS)
"Beginning Nov. 1, new AWS customers will be able to run a free Amazon EC2 Micro Instance for a year, while also leveraging a new free usage tier for Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3), Elastic Block Store, Elastic Load Balancing and AWS data transfer," states Amazon Web Services' website. A Micro instance is a about half a CPU core and 613 MB of RAM, enough to comfortably run the family website or chug away at a smallish database application without insane Web-scale traffic. In fact, it's about what a pretty high-end server was capable of 10 years ago; those were enough to get Yahoo and Google going, so no scoffing from the power snobs.
There are a few limits: only 10 GB of impermanent Elastic Block Storage, 5 GB of permanent S3, and a maximum of 30 GB of traffic in and out. But, uh, it's free. Free, free, free. Why? Who knows. Let's just say that anyone who has guessed what AWS' operating margins are (the difference between what it costs AWS to run an instance and what AWS charges for that instance) should let those guesses go, because apparently the answer is infinity. It costs so little to run AWS instances that they are just going to give them away like a never-ending supply of cheese and cracker samples at Costco.
And now, of course, AWS users that joined over the last few years are kicking themselves and wondering why they didn't hold out just a little bit longer.
The news is also a startling inversion on the standard "freemium" business model, where you give a lot away in the hope that people buy it later. Amazon has apparently sold enough stuff for real money that they can now give it away. Hopefully this new trend continues and free garden tools and books start showing up on my porch.
Carl Brooks is the Technology Writer at SearchCloudComputing.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.