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Oracle kicks Amazon after Glacier download bill shock

One thing cloud doesn't improve is readability of fine print

Last week, a chap named Mario Karpinnen took to Medium with a tale of how downloading 60GB of data from Amazon Web Services' archive-grade Glacier service cost him a whopping US$158.

Karpinnen went into the fine print of Glacier pricing and found that the service takes your peak download rate, multiplies the number of gigabytes downloaded in your busiest hour for the month and applies it to every hour of the whole month. His peak data retrieval rate of 15.2GB an hour was therefore multiplied by the $0.011 per gigabyte charged for downloads from Glacier. And then multiplied by the 744 hours in January. Once tax and bandwidth charges were added, in came the bill for $158.

The post explaining this mess was widely read. So widely read that Big Red (Oracle) has decided to join those who lined to give Amazon a kicking.

Oracle says the download charge for its archival cloud storage offering is $0.005/GB/month and forget about the maths. Big Red also points out that its own archival cloud costs $0.001/GB/month compared to AWS' $0.007/GB/month.

Big Red's not being entirely fair in its analysis, because Glacier's fine print also says – as acknowledged by Karpinnen – that the service is not designed for bulk downloads. Indeed, AWS gives you free downloads for five per cent of your data each month, a not-unreasonable allowance for a service sold as an archive, not transactional storage. Oracle also doesn't take into account its own $0.05 per 1,000 requests for “small reads and writes”.

We're well and truly in the weeds now, but Karpinnen's post and Oracle's carping about what it says about AWS both suggest a simple moral to this story: cloud looks simple, but isn't, and buyer beware applies every bit as much as it does for any other product or service. ®

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