In a move aimed at attracting new customers, Amazon will introduce an entry-level tier of its cloud-based Web service that will be available free to new users for a year.
Amazon Web Services (AWS), an Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) company, said the new offering will be available starting Nov. 1.
Under the deal, developers and businesses who are new customers can run a free "instance" of AWS' Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) for a year. The offering also introduces a free usage tier for Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service), Amazon Elastic Block Store, Amazon Elastic Load Balancing, and AWS data transfer.
"We're announcing a new free tier, with a free EC2 instance for a year and some S3 storage," Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said at an event Thursday where he joined with other companies backing a new $250 million sFund for social Web developers.
"I'm hoping most of the sFund is spent on Amazon Web Services," Bezos quipped.
With the new tier -- which is not related to sFund -- if a developer's application use takes off, when it hits the offering's free usage limits, it will automatically scale up to AWS' standard pay-as-you-go pricing, AWS' statement said.
Amazon's move comes at a time when recent competitor Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is in the process of scaling up its own Windows Azure services platform.
After allowing free usage during beta test, Microsoft began charging for use of the platform in February 2010 when Windows Azure exited beta. Despite its late entry, by early June Microsoft claimed to have attracted more than 10,000 paying customers.
What a new AWS customer gets in the free tier will be an instance of EC2 running on Linux for 750 hours per month (which more than covers the 720 hours in a 30-day month). It also includes 750 hours per month of Amazon Elastic Load Balancer, plus 10 GB of Elastic Block Storage, and 5 GB of S3 storage -- also per month.
Additionally, the free tier will provide 30 GB per month of data transfer, and 25 "machine hours" of Amazon SimpleDB, as well as 100,000 requests per month to Amazon Simple Queue Service.
Finally, the free tier allows for 100,000 requests per month, as well as 100,000 notifications over HTTP per month, and up to 1,000 notifications via e-mail each month for Amazon Simple Notification Service, the company said. Further information is available on Amazon's AWS site.
InternetNews.com West Coast Bureau Chief David Needle contributed to this article.