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Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) - Beta

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers.

Amazon EC2's simple web service interface allows you to obtain and configure capacity with minimal friction. It provides you with complete control of your computing resources and lets you run on Amazon's proven computing environment. Amazon EC2 reduces the time required to obtain and boot new server instances to minutes, allowing you to quickly scale capacity, both up and down, as your computing requirements change. Amazon EC2 changes the economics of computing by allowing you to pay only for capacity that you actually use.  Amazon EC2 provides developers the tools to build failure resilient applications and isolate themselves from common failure scenarios.

Amazon EC2 Functionality

Amazon EC2 presents a true virtual computing environment, allowing you to use web service interfaces to requisition machines for use, load them with your custom application environment, manage your network's access permissions, and run your image using as many or few systems as you desire.

To use Amazon EC2, you simply:

  • Create an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) containing your applications, libraries, data and associated configuration settings. Or use pre-configured, templated images to get up and running immediately.
  • Upload the AMI into Amazon S3. Amazon EC2 provides tools that make storing the AMI simple. Amazon S3 provides a safe, reliable and fast repository to store your images.
  • Use Amazon EC2 web service to configure security and network access.
  • Choose which instance type(s) you want, then start, terminate, and monitor as many instances of your AMI as needed, using the web service APIs.
  • Determine whether you want to run in multiple locations, utilize static IP endpoints, or attach persistent block storage to your instances.
  • Pay only for the resources that you actually consume, like instance-hours or data transfer.

Service Highlights

  • Elastic
    Amazon EC2 enables you to increase or decrease capacity within minutes, not hours or days. You can commission one, hundreds or even thousands of server instances simultaneously. Of course, because this is all controlled with web service APIs, your application can automatically scale itself up and down depending on its needs.

  • Completely Controlled
    You have complete control of your instances. You have root access to each one, and you can interact with them as you would any machine.  Instances can be rebooted remotely using web service APIs. You also have access to console output of your instances.

  • Flexible
    You have the choice of several instance types, allowing you to select a configuration of memory, CPU, and instance storage that is optimal for your application.

  • Designed for use with other Amazon Web Services
    Amazon EC2 works in conjunction with Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon SimpleDB and Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS) to provide a complete solution for computing, query processing and storage across a wide range of applications.

  • Reliable
    Amazon EC2 offers a highly reliable environment where replacement instances can be rapidly and reliably commissioned. The service runs within Amazon's proven network infrastructure and datacenters.

  • Features for Building Failure Resilient Applications
    Amazon EC2 provides powerful features to build failure resilient applications including:

    • Amazon Elastic Block Store
      Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) offers persistent storage for Amazon EC2 instances. Amazon EBS volumes provide off-instance storage that persists independently from the life of an instance. Amazon EBS volumes are highly available, highly reliable volumes that can be attached to a running Amazon EC2 instance and are exposed as standard block devices.  Amazon EBS volumes offer greatly improved durability over local Amazon EC2 instance stores, as Amazon EBS volumes are automatically replicated on the backend (in a single Availability Zone). For those wanting even more durability, Amazon EBS provides the ability to create point-in-time consistent snapshots of your volumes that are then stored in Amazon S3, and automatically replicated across multiple Availability Zones. These snapshots can be used as the starting point for new Amazon EBS volumes, and can protect your data for long term durability. See Amazon Elastic Block Store for more details on this feature.

    • Multiple Locations
      Amazon EC2 provides the ability to place instances in multiple locations. Amazon EC2 locations are composed of regions and Availability Zones. Regions are geographically dispersed and will be in separate geographic areas or countries. Currently, Amazon EC2 exposes only a single region. Availability Zones are distinct locations that are engineered to be insulated from failures in other Availability Zones and provide inexpensive, low latency network connectivity to other Availability Zones in the same region. Regions consist of one or more Availability Zones. By launching instances in separate Availability Zones, you can protect your applications from failure of a single location.

    • Elastic IP Addresses
      Elastic IP addresses are static IP addresses designed for dynamic cloud computing. An Elastic IP address is associated with your account not a particular instance, and you control that address until you choose to explicitly release it. Unlike traditional static IP addresses, however, Elastic IP addresses allow you to mask instance or Availability Zone failures by programmatically remapping your public IP addresses to any instance in your account. Rather than waiting on a data technician to reconfigure or replace your host, or waiting for DNS to propagate to all of your customers, Amazon EC2 enables you to engineer around problems with your instance or software by quickly remapping your Elastic IP address to a replacement instance.

  • Secure
    Amazon EC2 provides web service interfaces to configure firewall settings that control network access to and between groups of instances.

  • Inexpensive
    Amazon EC2 passes on to you the financial benefits of Amazon's scale. You pay a very low rate for the compute capacity you actually consume. Compare this with the significant up-front expenditures traditionally required to purchase and maintain hardware, either in-house or hosted. This frees you from many of the complexities of capacity planning, transforms what are commonly large fixed costs into much smaller variable costs, and removes the need to over-buy "safety net" capacity to handle periodic traffic spikes.


Pay only for what you use. There is no minimum fee. Estimate your monthly bill using AWS Simple Monthly Calculator.


    Standard Instances

    Instances of this family are well suited for most applications.

    $0.10 - Small Instance (Default)
      1.7 GB of memory, 1 EC2 Compute Unit (1 virtual core with 1 EC2 Compute Unit), 160 GB of instance storage, 32-bit platform

    $0.40 - Large Instance

      7.5 GB of memory, 4 EC2 Compute Units (2 virtual cores with 2 EC2 Compute Units each), 850 GB of instance storage, 64-bit platform

    $0.80 - Extra Large Instance

      15 GB of memory, 8 EC2 Compute Units (4 virtual cores with 2 EC2 Compute Units each), 1690 GB of instance storage, 64-bit platform

    High-CPU Instances

    Instances of this family have proportionally more CPU resources than memory (RAM) and are well suited for compute-intensive applications.

    $0.20 - High-CPU Medium Instance
      1.7 GB of memory, 5 EC2 Compute Units (2 virtual cores with 2.5 EC2 Compute Units each), 350 GB of instance storage, 32-bit platform

    $0.80 - High-CPU Extra Large Instance
      7 GB of memory, 20 EC2 Compute Units (8 virtual cores with 2.5 EC2 Compute Units each), 1690 GB of instance storage, 64-bit platform

Pricing is per instance-hour consumed for each instance type. Partial instance-hours consumed are billed as full hours.

EC2 Compute Unit (ECU) - One EC2 Compute Unit (ECU) provides the equivalent CPU capacity of a 1.0-1.2 GHz 2007 Opteron or 2007 Xeon processor.   See Amazon EC2 Instance Types for details on available instance configurations and a complete description of an EC2 Compute Unit.

Data Transfer

    Internet Data Transfer
    $0.100 per GB - all data transfer in

    $0.170 per GB - first 10 TB / month data transfer out
    $0.130 per GB - next 40 TB / month data transfer out
    $0.110 per GB - next 100 TB / month data transfer out
    $0.100 per GB - data transfer out / month over 150 TB

    Data transfer "in" and "out" refers to transfer into and out of Amazon EC2.

    Data transferred between Amazon EC2 and Amazon S3-US or Amazon SimpleDB, is free of charge (i.e., $0.00 per GB), except data transferred between Amazon EC2 and Amazon S3-Europe, which will be charged at regular rates.

    Amazon S3 usage is billed separately from Amazon EC2; charges for each service will be billed at the end of the month.

    Availability Zone Data Transfer
    $0.00 per GB - all data transferred between instances in the same Availability Zone using private IP addresses.

    Regional Data Transfer
    $0.01 per GB in/out - all data transferred between instances in different Availability Zones in the same region. 

    Public and Elastic IP Data Transfer
    $0.01 per GB in/out - If you choose to communicate using your Public or Elastic IP address inside of the Amazon EC2 network, you'll pay Regional Data Transfer rates even if the instances are in the same Availability Zone.  For data transfer within the same Availability Zone, you can easily avoid this charge (and get better network performance) by using your private IP whenever possible.

    See Availability Zones for tools to describe instance location.

Amazon Elastic Block Store

    Amazon EBS Volumes
    $0.10 per GB-month of provisioned storage
    $0.10 per 1 million I/O requests

    Amazon EBS Snapshots to Amazon S3 (priced the same as Amazon S3)
    $0.15 per GB-month of data stored
    $0.01 per 1,000 PUT requests (when saving a snapshot)
    $0.01 per 10,000 GET requests (when loading a snapshot)

Elastic IP Addresses

    No cost for Elastic IP addresses while in use
    $0.01 per non-attached Elastic IP address per complete hour
    $0.00 per Elastic IP address remap - first 100 remaps / month
    $0.10 per Elastic IP address remap - additional remap / month over 100

(Amazon EC2 is sold by Amazon Web Services LLC.)


Detailed Description

Using Amazon EC2 to Run Instances
Amazon EC2 allows you to set up and configure everything about your instances from your operating system up to your applications. An Amazon Machine Image (AMI) is simply a packaged-up environment that includes all the necessary bits to set up and boot your instance. Your AMIs are your unit of deployment. You might have just one AMI or you might compose your system out of several building block AMIs (e.g., webservers, appservers, and databases). Amazon EC2 provides a number of command line tools to make creating an AMI easy. Once you create a custom AMI, you will need to upload it to Amazon S3. Amazon EC2 uses Amazon S3 to provide reliable, scalable storage of your AMIs so that we can boot them when you ask us to do so.

You can also choose from a library of globally available AMIs that provide useful instances. For example, if you just want a simple Linux server, you can choose one of the standard Linux distribution AMIs.  Once you have set up your account and uploaded your AMIs, you are ready to boot your instance. You can start your AMI on any number and any type of instance by calling the RunInstances API.  If you wish to run more than 20 instances, create more than 20 EBS volumes or if you feel you need more than 5 Elastic IP addresses, please complete the Amazon EC2 instance request form, Amazon EBS volume request form or the Elastic IP request form and your increase request will be considered. 

Paying for What You Use
You will be charged at the end of each month for your EC2 resources actually consumed.

As an example, assume you launch 100 instances of the Small type costing $0.10 per hour at some point in time. The instances will begin booting immediately, but they won't necessarily all start at the same moment. Each instance will store its actual launch time. Thereafter, each instance will charge for its hours (at $.10/hour) of execution at the beginning of each hour relative to the time it launched. Each instance will run until one of the following occurs: you terminate the instance with the TerminateInstances API call (or an equivalent tool), the instance shuts itself down (e.g. Unix "shutdown" command), or the host terminates due to software or hardware failure. Partial instance hours consumed are billed as full hours.

Getting Started
The best way to understand Amazon EC2 is to work through the Getting Started Guide, part of our Technical Documentation. Within a few minutes, you will be able to log into your own instance and start playing!

Intended Usage and Restrictions




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