AWS melts Glacier prices to continue race to the bottom

AWS is the undisputed leader in the public cloud computing rankings and the latest price drops in S3 and Glacier offerings will up the pressure on the chasing pack.

Jamie Davies

November 22, 2016

4 Min Read
AWS melts Glacier prices to continue race to the bottom

AWS is the undisputed leader in the public cloud computing rankings and the latest price drops in S3 and Glacier offerings will up the pressure on the chasing pack.

The news Alibaba is stepping up its focus on the international markets will be some to worry, though AWS flexing its financial muscles to lower prices and capitalize on the sheer volume of customers it already has will make life difficult for the likes of Google, Microsoft and IBM who all have lofty ambitions in the public cloud segment.

AWS has announced this week it will be reducing prices for S3 Standard Storage and for Glacier storage, as well as introducing additional retrieval options for the Glacier offering. The price cuts vary, though in Europe and North America it ranges from 20-24%, while in the Asia Pacific regions it’s between 16-28%. There is a full breakdown of the regions at the bottom of the article.

“Back in 2006, we launched S3 with a revolutionary pay-as-you-go pricing model, with an initial price of 15 cents per GB per month,” said Jeff Barr, Chief Evangelist at AWS. “Over the intervening decade, we reduced the price per GB by 80%, launched S3 in every AWS Region, and enhanced the original one-size-fits-all model with user-driven features such as web site hosting, VPC integration, and IPv6 support, while adding new storage options including S3 Infrequent Access.

“As long-time AWS customers already know, we work relentlessly to reduce our own costs, and to pass the resulting savings along in the form of a steady stream of AWS Price Reductions. We are reducing the per-GB price for S3 Standard Storage in most AWS regions, effective December 1, 2016.”

AWS already has a substantial customer base and the price cut shows the cloud pretenders the team is not afraid to utilitize the segment to win the race. The announcement may have pre-empted a similar move from Alibaba, a company which made its international intentions very clear with the plans to open up four new data centres across the world during 2017.

Alibaba has a huge, loyal and (somewhat) protected customer base in China, generating significant cash reserves to allow it to challenge the established players in the western markets. AWS is seemingly kick-starting a race to the bottom, backing the volume of customers available as businesses around the world evolve into the digital economy.

“The lower pricing is a direct result of the scale that comes about when our customers trust us with trillions of objects, but it is just one of the benefits,” said Barr. “Based on the feedback that I get when we add new features, the real value of a cloud storage platform is the rapid, steady evolution. Our customers often tell me that they love the fact that we anticipate their needs and respond with new features accordingly.”

Alongside the pricing change, the team are also introducing new retrieval options for the storage products in the form of a three-stage tiered model. The Standard tier is what the company does now. You put in a request and get the data back in a couple of hours, while paying $0.01 per GB along with $0.05 for every 1,000 requests.

Expedited retrieval addresses the need for “while you wait access” or more urgent cases. If you store (or plan to store) more than 100 TB of data in Glacier and need to make infrequent, yet urgent requests for subsets of your data, the Expedited tier will get the data to you in 1 to 5 minutes. Retrievals cost $0.03 per GB and $0.01 per request, and are designed for such circumstances as a doctor’s appointment.

The final tier is Bulk retrieval, typically taking 5 to 12 hours at a cost of $0.0025 per GB along with $0.025 for every 1,000 requests, designed for those wanting to retrieve large amounts of data and are willing to wait a few extra hours in exchange for a discount.

AWS is firmly at the front of the public cloud segment, but it doesn’t seem to be taking any risks. The team is charging towards $10 billion revenues in a single year, and this announcement shows the industry the incumbent is not afraid to change the rules if it means keeping challengers at arm’s length.


0-50 TB($ / GB / Month)

51 – 500 TB($ / GB / Month)

500+ TB($ / GB / Month)

(Reductions range from 23.33% to 23.64%)




(Reductions range from 20.53% to 21.21%)




(Reductions range from 24.24% to 24.38%)




(Reductions range from 16.36% to 28.13%)





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