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Under pressure from Cloudflare's R2, Wasabi et al, AWS massively expands its free data transfer tier

Competition: it's good for everyone...

AWS's data transfer fees have caught many unwitting cloud users unawares -- and left no shortage of them weeping bitter tears into the cloud-was-supposed-to-be-cheaper bucket. But now under huge pressure from products like Cloudflare's R2 and Wasabi, the hyperscaler has dramatically expanded its free data transfer tier.

"Data Transfer from AWS Regions to the Internet is now free for up to 100 GB of data per month (up from 1 GB per region). This includes Amazon EC2, Amazon S3, Elastic Load Balancing, and so forth. The expansion does not apply to the AWS GovCloud or AWS China Regions" said AWS's Jeff Barr on November 24, 2021.

Data Transfer from Amazon CloudFront is also now free for up to 1 TB of data per month (up from 50 GB), and no longer limited to the first 12 months, he added: "We are also raising the number of free HTTP and HTTPS requests from 2,000,000 to 10,000,000, and removing the 12 month limit on the 2,000,000 free CloudFront Function invocations per month." This change is effective December 1, 2021 and requires no user input.

AWS's data transfer fees have drawn a lot of flak

The move comes after Cloudflare launched its R2 cloud storage model in September 2021, priced at $0.015 per GB of data stored per month and with a pricing structure that put AWS's to shame (e.g. no data egress fees)

As Duckbill Group cloud economist Corey Quinn, who specialises in AWS cost management, noted on Twitter at the time: "Today I'm going to store 1GB of data in @awscloud's S3 and serve it out to the internet.

"The storage charge is 2.3¢ per month the tier 1 regions. Someone on the internet grabs that 1GB of data once. I'm paying 9¢ to send it to them. You read that right; just shy of four months' of storage charges to send it to the internet once. R2 sits in CloudFlare's world. The first time you request an object from S3 via CloudFlare, I pay 9¢ to send it out, then 1.5¢ a month to keep it in R2. And from that point forward egress becomes free.

See also: AWS pokes MSFT in the eye with a free SQL Server > PostgreSQL migration tool

"But I'm not done. my data is SUPER important. I want to keep it on S3. I can cut it over to use S3 Infrequent Access. This drops the price on AWS to 1.25¢ per GB per month. Should R2 break and need to re-retrieve it again, I'll pay another 9¢ to transfer it out, plus a 1¢ surcharge for retrieving it from Infrequent Access. Let's tie this together. I can pay 2.3¢ per GB plus a whopping 9¢ per GB of transfer, *OR* I can pay 2.75¢ per GB to keep it in both places, secure in the knowledge that my egress traffic is a one-time 9¢ charge, the end.

"One final point: Now let’s remember that the internet is 1-to-many. If 1 million people download that 1GB this month, my cost with @cloudflare R2 this way rounds up to 13¢. With @awscloud S3 it’s $53,891.16."

R2 isn't the only cloud storage product to have been putting pressure on AWS.

Startup Wasabi has grown at an astonishing rate in recent years -- over the summer reporting 3x year-over-year growth, reaching 23,000 customers worldwide and over 5,000 Channel Partners. The attraction: 1/5th the cost of Amazon S3, with no fees for egress or API requests. This week (November 23) it announced the opening of a new storage region in London (based out of an Equinix Data Center) with high speed network access from multiple carriers, making it easy for UK customers to connect to Wasabi hot cloud storage.

According to IDC’s Worldwide Public Cloud Infrastructure as a Service Market Shares, 2020 Report, the global public cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) market grew to $65.5 billion in 2020, with EMEA growing at 31%, as enterprises pivoted to support distributed workforces and digital interactions with customers while generating more data than ever before.

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