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Amazon will let you reserve space on its cloud for up to three years under a pre-paid agreement.

The company Thursday announced the introduction of Reserved Instances for its EC2 service starting at $325 for one-year and $500 for a three-year period on Linux and Unix systems.

Payments made for unused or partially Reserved Instance are not refundable, Amazon said.

Reserved Instances are being made available in addition to the existing, pay-as-you go model. The idea seems to be to let organizations with important processing loads or services reserve processing and storage capacity up front, rather than gambling on it being available, while helping companies saving money on the current, per-hour charges.

Organizations using Reserved Instances also won't need to buy or maintain their own servers in order to handle such jobs, Amazon said. The reserved capacity comes with Amazon's existing service-level agreement of 99.95 per cent availability within a region for a 365-day period.

Amazon said in a statement: "Customers can choose to reserve capacity as if they owned the hardware, but unlike traditional infrastructure, with Reserved Instances, customers do not pay to maintain and operate idle hardware, and instead pay usage charges only when actually utilizing the instances."

The Reserved Instances do not appear to extend to Microsoft-based services running SQL Server. Also, Reserved Instances for Unix and Linux are currently only available to US customers. ®

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