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Amazon S3 Adds Option To Make Data Accessors Pay 80

Posted by kdawson
from the by-the-byte dept.
CWmike writes "Amazon.com has rolled out a new option for its Simple Storage Service (S3) that lets data owners shift the cost of accessing their information to users. Until now, individuals or businesses with information stored on S3 had to pay data-transfer costs to Amazon when others made use of the information. Amazon said the new Requester Pays option relieves data providers of that burden, leaving them to pay only the basic storage fees for the cloud computing service. The bigger question with the cloud is, who really pays? Mark Everett Hall argues that IT workers do."
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Amazon S3 Adds Option To Make Data Accessors Pay

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  • Whew (Score:2, Insightful)

    Well thats a relief, I'd hate to know (in these economic times) that some information could not be retrieved because of inability to pay the transfer fees, and not, in my opinion, the more important cost of storage size.

    The only way this could be a loss to amazon is if somebody stores a ton of stuff (say, gigs and gigs of videos) and after initially storing it sits on it and transfers continuously without paying for more space. Other than that, I consider this a suddenoutbreakofcommonsense.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Telvin_3d (855514)

      Depending on the popularity of a piece of data, I could easily see the cost of transfer being much higher over time than the cost of storage. After all, once you have stored your 1GB file on their servers, with a fixed asset cost for that 1GB likely 1$, and then it gets accessed by a couple people a day for a year or so. I'd be willing to bet that the cost of moving the data around would be signifigantly larger than the cost of keeping it stored.

      • Yes, hence the second paragraph. I was actually posting from a consumer standpoint since I am shopping around for some data storage, myself.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by nahdude812 (88157) *

          S3 (a developer platform) coupled with a consumer front end (such as JungleDisk which works on Win/OS X/Lin) makes a great storage/backup solution. With JungleDisk's ability to keep old versions and deleted versions for a specified interval, you don't even have to worry so much that your only backup solution is mirroring (as you'll be able to recover point in time with a little effort). It's great for personal use in this sense.

          JungleDisk can even encrypt your files before uploading them, and transparentl

          • by mattack2 (1165421)

            That seems like a lot of money to me. Wouldn't buying a couple of terabyte drives ($100 each) and cycling them as the off site backup be much cheaper? Maybe you're paying for the convenience though.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by nahdude812 (88157) *

              Convenience of access from anywhere (only needing to install the client if I really needed access to a file from a remote location), plus the convenience of effort-free off-site backup.

              $16/mo to safely and effortlessly back up 8 years of photography seems like an incredibly good deal to me. I pay way the heck more than this for my homeowner's insurance, and this is just another form of personal property insurance. The only monthly bill that regularly falls under this dollar amount, in fact, is my credit c

          • Jungledisk was bought by Rackspace. I wouldn't go near Rackspace with my website, much less a backup of my personal data. They know how to keep data safe like a cat knows to keep milk safe. And they are the industry standard in shitty customer service.

            • by nahdude812 (88157) *

              JungleDisk stores data on Amazon's S3 servers, not RackSpace's.

              • JungleDisk stores data on Amazon's S3 servers, not RackSpace's.

                What difference does that make? I still have to trust Rackspace, which I don't. For that matter, had Microsoft purchased Jungledisk but continued to use Amazon's S3 servers, would you still use Jungledisk? Rackspace is worse than Microsoft in security (not an issue for encrypted data), reliability, and in customer service.

                • by nahdude812 (88157) *

                  I wouldn't use JD if it was storing on or went through RackSpace's servers - I dislike them for probably the same reasons as you.

                  However JD predated RackSpace's acquisition. Being owned by a crappy corporation doesn't retroactively make their software suck. If it were owned by Microsoft, I'd make sure I had a good copy of the current software version which I could keep around because I'd assume that future versions were about to suck.

                  JD stores the data in your Amazon S3 account, not one of theirs. Racksp

                  • We're a hosting company that backs up hundreds of TB of data to Amazon S3. We were using JungleDisk. After they were acquired, we rolled our own replacement. Just like the sun has risen in the east for as long as the Earth has been around, almost all companies go to hell once they've been acquired by a large, shoddy corporation.

                  • I just found this S3 Firefox extention:
                    http://www.rjonna.com/ext/s3fox.php [rjonna.com]

          • by Dekortage (697532)

            After reviewing a number of options (Mozy, Crashplan, etc.) I ended up with JungleDisk too. I don't care about my music library, but I do have a photo library similar to yours -- just about 41gb. JungleDisk does incremental backups (only files that have changed) and can be configured to save X number of old versions for you. If you add their JungleDisk Plus service ($1/month) you get block-level and resumable backups, and web access to the files. But the thing that really sold me on JungleDisk was the b

          • by lamapper (1343009)

            I think I would rather get 1TB for $100 or even 500 GB for around $50 per month and not have those $17 per month charges (based on your numbers)...with the 500 GB drive you would be ahead of the game in less than 5 months.

            With the external USB hard disks you could buy two and rotate one of them off site periodically.

            Plus with this solution, your data is as secure as the place you lock it up and store it. Definitely more secure than any online source.

            • by nahdude812 (88157) *

              $100 1TB drives, and $50 500GB drives fail with amazing alacrity. These are a really bad backup solution. I have owned 4 such drives in the past year and a half or so. Only one still works. Their only good use is for file transfer when network transfer is out of the question (such as taking raw video footage from one location to another).

              JungleDisk offers the option to encrypt your data before it is stored on S3. So it's secure in the sense that it can't be snooped upon by Amazon, Jungledisk, or LEO's

              • by lamapper (1343009)

                Good post(s) and I agree with you, sorry if it came across oddly or as an attack, that was not my intent. You did indeed provide a solution given the previous post. And I have enjoyed both your posts! I also have recorded this information for future reference on potential off site / online backup companies should anyone I know ever need that service.

                $100 1TB drives, and $50 500GB drives fail with amazing alacrity. These are a really bad backup solution. I have owned 4 such drives in the past year and a half or so. Only one still works.

                That is NOT what I want to hear, sounds like I have been lucky with my Seagate FreeAgent 500 GB, bought it last year and it is still running strong. I use it

      • Since Amazon S3 has the native ability to be a torrent for your content stored there, I would think serving the content with Bittorrent would be better then having each person pay to access the data.

        Using BitTorrent with Amazon S3

        http://docs.amazonwebservices.com/AmazonS3/latest/index.html?S3Torrent.html [amazonwebservices.com]

    • by merreborn (853723)

      Well thats a relief, I'd hate to know (in these economic times) that some information could not be retrieved because of inability to pay the transfer fees, and not, in my opinion, the more important cost of storage size.

      Try telling the guys running youtube that bandwidth costs don't matter.

      Last I heard, their bandwidth costs are in the millions of dollars per month. I'm fairly confident they don't have a matching outlay for storage.

      • by lamapper (1343009)
        They will soon have their own fiber and data centers....so they have been planning ahead.

        I just hope they start offering internet access to the masses...fiber to my home, I want it!

    • by adpowers (153922)

      Well, the storage cost per gigabyte-month is $0.15 and the storage cost for transferring a gigabyte outbound is $0.17, so if you download the stored data once per month then transfer is the dominant cost.(1)

      Someone is always paying for the cost of storage and transfer. Before the person who owns the bucket would pay for both, but now they can make the accessor pay for the transfer. Amazon isn't offering either for free, so as long as they are making a marginal profit on storage and transfer, they aren't eat

  • by mamono (706685) on Monday January 05, 2009 @08:27PM (#26337539)
    With advertising revenues dropping we could see this as a new trend for accessing content. Of course, many sites are popular because they are free so this would likely reduce traffic. I could see how this would be useful for a site like Fark, though, who already has a paying crowd.

    Of course, the big users I can see are porn sites.
    • If you wanted to charge people to view content, you'd use Amazon's DevPay system (a more complicated Paypal).

  • ...I'm not sure how accurate that is. In my experience S3 and EC2 enable small companies to do things they might not otherwise hassle with.

    The article also says "The glory days of the UNIX system administrator and the Java programmer are dead and buried". Really? From what I've seen, good Unix sysadmins are in high demand - whether the servers are in your colo rack or in a RackSpace facility, you still need someone to mind the farm and twiddle the Puppet [reductivelabs.com] manifests. Not sure about Java programmers, but demand for Ruby (especially Rails) programmers is quite high.

    • by kerohazel (913211)

      That article manages to say so little in so many words, one of which is "leverage". When it does actually say something, it's just baseless "X is dead" statements.

      On second thought, I guess that does say a lot, in its own way.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by edsousa (1201831)
      It is not accurate. I think that laws of conservation of energy apply here.. If the companies won't develop and/or deploy in-house some software and use SaaS, the resources they don't need were used by others to provide the service.

      "Intel, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and their supply-chain partners in China need fewer engineers and assembly-line workers to design and build machines to run the packaged or custom apps"

      WTF? Does Amazon et al run their services on abacuses?

      And if companies want to get all the
      • Well there is a loss of energy that does apply in many ways.
        Think of the job of a system administrator at a medium sized company. If he does his job well things run more or less by itself with planed maintenance, but for the most part one admin can keep 100-200 computers running smoothly but for the medium sized company he only needs to keep 50 operational. Then you have a SaaS company they may have 4 admins keeping track of 800 servers, and that is their full time job.

        The same with electrical power 100 se

        • by emj (15659)

          The same with electrical power 100 servers spread across many companies all running at an average of 5% utilization or 20 servers all running at an average of 25% utilization.

          This is never true, 5%*5 isn't 25% it might very well be 300%. Server load and in this case; batch job scheduling [wikipedia.org] are very hard to do right.

          But sure there are "synergy effects", they are smaller than one might believe.

    • by homer_s (799572)
      If the author thinks that Saas hurts the economy by making developers obsolete, then he should asks himself whether computers, power tools, etc also hurt the economy by making certain jobs obsolete.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Right. Who do you think is developing the programs that run on EC2? And who do you think is needed to manage the instances (VMs), or write software to manage them?

      Adapt or die.

    • Well, dont know, but the stats e.g. http://www.tiobe.com/index.php/content/paperinfo/tpci/index.html [tiobe.com] don't exactly convince me that Java is dead..
  • Payment Schemes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SimonInOz (579741) on Monday January 05, 2009 @08:33PM (#26337591)

    The problem of making web businesses profitable has been with us for a long time. Micropayments, internet dollars, memberships, the list of attempts is long - with some successes and a heck of a lot of failures. The number of sites saying "free for the first 3 months" is ridiculous. Then they try to charge and all their members go away. Nasty. Bad for business.

    S3 is - basically - a tax on bytes. Maybe that's a way to go. But it would end up encouraging sites that move large amounts of data, instead of being useful and efficient. Not so good.

    It's for sure we need some sort of reward mechanism to allow innovation to survive. At the moment all we have is advertising. This not enough - Google not withstanding. Heck, I turn them off .. so where is the revenue?

    Any ideas?

    • S3 is - basically - a tax on bytes. Maybe that's a way to go. But it would end up encouraging sites that move large amounts of data, instead of being useful and efficient. Not so good.

      If it uses too many bytes and that means the cost to the user is too high, then I think that would drive away users.

      I really don't have an answer to how to keep good sites going. All the possibilities in use have significant drawbacks. Maybe the best option is "beggarware" where they ask for donations or tips. If people really care about a particular site, then you better hope that enough of them think it's worth a certain level of a donation to pool into something that's enough to keep the site going.

    • about 2% of web users are technically capable of turning ads off. Businesses with good presentation will continue to do fine hitting the other 98%.

      • And a fraction of who can turn of adds don't. Adds have never bugged me, I turned of popup blocking and for the most part that gets the annoying stuff out of the way. A banner add doesn't bug me so much, If that add is selling a legal legit product/service, then I am not to concerned about it. If I am interested in it I just may click on it, if not I ignore it. If these adds pay for the web service I am using then all the better.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So let me get this straight. When coal miners lose their jobs because of changes in the energy industry, it's progress, and the onus should be on the workers to be flexible and learn new skills ... but when it happens in IT, we're supposed to cry foul? What I hope this *will* do, however, is raise expectations as far as the consistency and reliability of software goes. In the process we'd probably lose code monkeys, but not those who have invested in (and benefit from) a more rigorous education.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday January 05, 2009 @09:30PM (#26338059) Journal
      Rather, when IT people are writing about coal miners losing their jobs, it's progress; while when IT people are writing about IT people losing their jobs, it's pernicious.
      • by maz2331 (1104901) on Monday January 05, 2009 @11:18PM (#26338865)

        No, the IT guys who lose their jobs will most likely be those supporting commodity solutions that the average secretary is too lazy to figure out for herself. There is still going to be a huge need for local support and IT staff no matter what happens, because some things are just too damn important to trust outside of the organization, or too expensive to not do yourself.

        Few, if any, companies are going to use an outside provider to hold their critical and/or proprietary data. There is no way in Hell, for example, that my Subversion repository will be stored anywhere but on a machine in my company, under my direct control, physically and logically - regardless of SLAs, encryption, or whatever else.

        And I am most certainly not putting our accounting database anywhere that could possibly require a "rent payment" or external connection - if I lost access for 1 minute, we're out of business entirely. Or, what if it leaked out and competitors had access?

        There is no possible way to make a cloud of untrusted machines substitute for locally owned, managed, and controlled systems.

        For the love of God, managers don't even trust the geek in the cubes, what makes anyone think that they will trust a "cloud" with anything important?

        Some managers have proprietary information that gives them an edge over the competition. Toss that out there? Some may even be Bernie Madoff, and those fucks aren't giving up any information.

        A whole lot of IT will stay local just for security and paranoia reasons alone.

        In short, clouds may expand what we do nowadays but they won't supplant anything.

        Oh, and who is going to troubleshoot the loss of the Internet connection?

        • Clouds are just changing the location of the gear. It still requires someone who knows what to do with it. There is still an application to be developed, administered, and maintained. There are still connections to be managed, and there are still users who just don't 'get' data.

          I'm not worried about my job. I'll have to keep on learning, but guess what? That's what I like to do.

        • And I am most certainly not putting our accounting database anywhere that could possibly require a "rent payment" or external connection - if I lost access for 1 minute, we're out of business entirely.

          Then you're doing something wrong. Like perhaps not having a hot spare or something similar.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        I love that word pernicious... I've started naming all my servers after nasty p-words. pernicious, persnickety, pugnacious...
    • by Patik (584959)

      So let me get this straight. When coal miners lose their jobs because of changes in the energy industry, it's progress, and the onus should be on the workers to be flexible and learn new skills ... but when it happens in IT, we're supposed to cry foul?

      Coal mining is old technology and something new has come along to potentially replace it in its industry. There's no new technology to replace today's IT, therefore these workers who are being laid off are at the forefront and their laying off cannot be called progress.

      • by jellomizer (103300) on Monday January 05, 2009 @10:14PM (#26338393)

        Here is a post from the futute...
        Local IT is old technology and something new has come along to potentially replace it in its industry. There's no new technology to replace today's SaaS, therefor these workers who are being laid off are at the forefront and they laying off cannot be called progress.

  • by religious freak (1005821) on Monday January 05, 2009 @08:41PM (#26337661)
    Mark Everett Hall really looks at things from a biased IT perspective. Yes, in his analysis, this will hurt US as IT professionals, but we do not constitute the entire economy. In fact, when businesses get leaner the economy gets better on a macro scale. Yeah, we could be hurting, but that doesn't mean the economy will be.

    And that, of course, is assuming you buy the thesis that people will move into this and fire their IT staff all in 2009 - here's a clue: they won't.

    And IF they did, what do you think us highly skilled laborers would be working on? My guess is cloud computing - those things don't code, administer or test themselves. Truly, looking on the bright side, one can visualize all IT effort being concerted into one specific area, hastening the arrival of new innovations - but I'm of the opinion that that analysis goes too far the other way.

    My bet, the pendulum will continue on its slow course back to dumber clients and smarter servers, but it's not going to change anything in major way overnight, or over 2009.
    • Mark Everett Hall really looks at things from a biased IT perspective. Yes, in his analysis, this will hurt US as IT professionals,

      His "analysis" assumes the amount of work to be done is constant, which doesn't seem reasonable. It also assumes that SaaS applications are much better substitutes for custom apps than COTS software is, which also doesn't seem reasonable.

  • by PPH (736903) on Monday January 05, 2009 @08:55PM (#26337771)

    Nobody wants to look at the data I've stored. Not even myself.

  • > "The bigger question with the cloud is, who really pays?"

    That question was raised and answered when the cloud was formed [slate.com]....'everyone'.
  • Amazon said the new Requester Pays option relieves data providers of that burden, leaving them to pay only the basic storage fees for the cloud computing service.

    Unless that data is mountains of scalding hot porn, I don't think they're going to make much money.

  • Boo Hoo, SaaS and Outsourcing are taking our jobs. It is only threatening because it is change in the status quo.
    Lets take a look at the 1970's 1980's and 1990's. IT was a great place to work in, New innovative stuff, a pioneer in the future... and the fact that your job as an IT guy probably within a half a decade replaced the work of a dozen people. These were the heyday of our economy, what happened to those dozen people who's job your replaced... Did they all become programmers or system admins... No.

    • by mindstrm (20013)

      "So what do we do now... We cant all go work at a SaaS shop"

      We keep innovating, and designing and supporting BETTER services on top of those new, commoditized ones.

      I don't have to worry about wasting time on VM infrastructure and SANS because I can use AWS now? Fantastic - I can get the team working on something more interesting to get a leg up on the competition.

      • I am not sure if you were being sarcastic or not. It sound like a good idea to me. However you must realize a lot of the people who were VM and SANS experts are not necessarily good at the more interesting things to leg up on the competition. So you may need to get rid of those guys and get new one, if they are unwilling to change and modernize.

  • by putaro (235078) on Monday January 05, 2009 @09:55PM (#26338257) Journal

    As we consume more IT resources the number of workers per resource unit has to fall - or we're going to wind up spending our entire budget on IT. The question for IT workers is whether the amount of IT workers has peaked or not. I don't think it has yet.

    The first computer I worked with was a PDP 11/70. Less than 1 MIP and we had a dedicated operator. By that measure my laptop needs several thousand support personnel.

    However, we spent close to $500,000 (in 1981 dollars) for that system. It supported 32 terminals. Today, I could put together 32 desktops plus a server system for less than $100,000 but would probably still want to have a dedicated IT support person for that many desktops (given that it's a small company and that's all of our IT infrastructure - larger companies get by with fewer desktop support people due to economies of scale).

    My wife worked at Oracle here in Japan for a while. The director of the Oracle certificate program once set a long term goal of, I think, 5 million certified Oracle DBA's in Japan. Now, Japan has a total population of about 128 million so he was setting a goal of 4 out of every 100 people to be Oracle DBA's. Absolutely ludicrous.

    Personnel are now the largest cost in IT. Anything that reduces IT costs will be reducing personnel costs. The real question is whether the IT budget overall is shrinking or growing.

    The interesting long term question is whether IT will mature like power or plumbing to the point where an average company does not keep IT specialists on staff but just calls them in as needed. I would argue that it is different since IT done properly is a strategic asset customized to your company somehow but time will tell.

    • by lamapper (1343009)

      As we consume more IT resources the number of workers per resource unit has to fall - or we're going to wind up spending our entire budget on IT. The question for IT workers is whether the amount of IT workers has peaked or not. I don't think it has yet.

      Do you include your software and hardware licensing costs in your IT budget. While I think everyone should, I worked for a telco that, when looking at budget for new projects, did not include the mainframe hardware, software and yearly maintenance costs, as "its already paid for..." their words, not mine.

      I wonder how many companies are finally looking at their ever increasing server and software costs and switching to open source to reduce that portion of their IT budget?

      If I was in charge, you can be

  • Just once, I want to ask someone in charge of a large company's "cloud services" or something what happens when it rains, just so I can see the mortified look on his face and watch the colour drain away before he runs out of the room screaming something about umbrellas and airship water tanks.

  • I love the ridiculous claims of the CW story and how it's going to hurt the IT economy. The entirety of IT exists because it introduces efficiencies that reduce labor costs. We didn't cry when our fancy computers put filing clerks out of a job? Or when the internet put message couriers out of a job? If anyone should have learned to not fear efficiency it should be IT workers. Someone has to run and engineer the cloud, someone will still need to connect the users to the cloud, etc. If you think you can

  • by mindstrm (20013)

    Contrary to the "saas is bad because everyone outsources and doens't hire developers" statement linked...

    1) Why should companies hire IT workers to do the same job they can do more economically with SAAS if it meets their needs?

    2) If hiring local workers leads to better products and services for your company, then inevitably those businesses who want to rise above will pay for local developers.

    3) Who do you think builds and maintains "software as a service?" - developers

  • Amazon is getting to be a little greedy.

    I think www.crashplan.com is better option for me as I can use a buddy system. Basically what it means I can use my buddy's hard drive across the country to story my data free of charge. I just pay for the license of the software and I am free to do whatever I want.

  • I, for one, would like to thank CWmike for giving me a link to a site that immediately begins playing loud music. I LOVE that and, more importantly, my co workers love it to.

    Thank you.

  • S3... I've heard that before... and it didn't bode well....

    Oh yeah! The Solid Snake System! That was a great.... oh shit.

  • Any public S3 object can also be accessed as a BitTorrent, which is another way to mitigate high bandwidth charges on large, popular files.

    Obviously, it's going to be difficult to allow folks to access the .torrent but not access the original file, but using long random names for things would probably work.

  • Amazon is not greedy, it's capitalism, man. Companies, that do business in cloud just have leverage to offset costs partially to the client. Our company is planning to discuss this at coming Cloud Computing Conference 2009, keep tuned - http://www.cloudslam09.com/ [cloudslam09.com]

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