Amazon believes that Cloud services are the future. They believe it so much, in fact, that starting November 1st, new AWS customers are being offered a free year of usage on the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). 

Amazon Micro Instance

As a new AWS customer, here's what you'd get for a year, for free:

  • 750 hours of Amazon EC2 Linux Micro Instance usage (613 MB of memory and 32-bit and 64-bit platform support) – enough hours to run continuously each month
  • 750 hours of an Elastic Load Balancer plus 15 GB data processing
  • 10 GB of Amazon Elastic Block Storage, plus 1 million I/Os, 1 GB of snapshot storage, 10,000 snapshot Get Requests and 1,000 snapshot Put Requests
  • 5 GB of Amazon S3 storage, 20,000 Get Requests, and 2,000 Put Requests
  • 30 GB per of internet data transfer (15 GB of data transfer “in” and 15 GB of data transfer “out” across all services except Amazon CloudFront)

“We’re excited to introduce a free usage tier for new AWS customers to help them get started on AWS,” said VP Adam Selipsky. “Everyone from entrepreneurial college students to developers at Fortune 500 companies can now launch new applications at zero expense and with the peace of mind that they can instantly scale to accommodate growth."

Further, Amazon is tossing in 25 hours of its SimpleDB database service per month, 100,000 requests per month for use of Amazon Simple Queue Service for message store and forwarding, and 100,000 requests and notifications per month over HTTP networks and 1,000 notifications via email for Amazon Simple Notification Service.

Just a Springboard

While the free tier will allow developers to launch an application at no cost, it should be noted that if applications become popular enough to outstrip the offer's capacity, the EC2 pay-as-you-go rates will immediately kick in. The offer also contains significantly less storage than Amazon's entry-level paid service (160 GB of  instance storage at 8.5 cents/hour.) 

At the end of the day it's still free, and will likely be difficult for beginners to turn down. It also piggybacks nicely on the sFund (a $US 250 million dollar pot for social Web development, backed by heavy hitters including Amazon) and the it's-all-about-developers theme. 

If you're ready to get started, check out the details of Amazon's new offering here