I can’t tell you how many of you have told me you’d like to run smaller applications at lower cost on EC2. These applications are typically low traffic/low throughput—web applications, web site hosting, various types of periodic cron jobs and the like.
I’m happy to say we have now built an instance type exactly for these purposes, called Micro instances, starting at $0.02 (two cents) per hour for Linux/Unix and $0.03 (three cents) per hour for Windows.
Micro Instances (t1.micro) provide a small amount of consistent CPU resources and allow you to burst CPU capacity when additional cycles are available. They are available now in all Regions. You can buy Reserved Micro Instances and you can acquire Micro Instances on the Spot Market. Interestingly enough, they are available in both 32 and 64 bit flavors, both with 613 MB of RAM. The Micro Instances have no local, ephemeral storage, so you'll need to Boot from EBS.
CloudWatch can be used to watch the level of CPU utilization to understand when the available CPU bursting has been used within a given time period. If your instance's CPU utilization is approaching 100% then you may want to scale (using Auto Scaling) to additional Micro instances or to a larger instance type. In fact, at this low a price you could run CloudWatch configured for Auto Scaling with two Micro instances behind an Elastic Load Balancer for just under the price of one CloudWatch-monitored Standard Small instance.
While designed to host web applications and web sites that don't receive all that much traffic (generally tens of requests per minute, depending on how much CPU time is needed to process the request), I'm pretty sure that you'll be able to put this new instance type to use in some interesting ways. Here are some of my thoughts:
- DNS servers, load balancers, proxies, and similar services that handle a relatively low volume of requests.
- Lightweight cron-driven tasks such as monitoring, health checks, or data updates.
- Hands-on training and other classroom use.
Feel free to post your ideas (and your other thoughts) in the comments.
Update: The AWS Simple Monthly Calculator now includes the Micro instances. The calculation at right illustrates the costs for a three year Reserved Instance running Linux/Unix full time.