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January 6, 2009

Amazon S3 offers data access billing

The user and not the owner pays for the data

By Jason Stamper

Amazon has added a new pricing option for its online S3 Simple Storage Service that could let organisations develop potentially new business streams by selling access to their data.

Up until now owners of the storage that is hosted by S3 pay for all of the storage and data transfer costs that are associated with their Amazon S3 pools.

With the arrival of a new Requester Pays feature, the person accessing the data instead of the owner of the data could be made to pay for the cost of the request, or data transfer from an S3 storage bucket.

The feature would effectively enable organisations with storage pools hosted with S3 to cross-charge for data access, or even to add a premium for access and download of data held in their S3 storage buckets.

The development will be useful for Amazon S3 users who want to let the public access objects in their buckets, but don’t want to pay the data transfer and request costs, the company said.

Amazon explained that S3 storage buckets could be configured for Requester Pays access so that the owner of the data avoids the charges that are currently incurred when others access the data. This can be the case, for example, when organisations make available large data sets, such as zip code directories, reference data, geospatial information, or web crawling data.

Used in conjunction with an existing Amazon facility known as DevPay, the new Requester Pays feature ultimately means the Amazon Web Service could be used to sell data access at a profit, either as a subscription or by marking up individual request fees. 
This could also be the case even when non Amazon S3 users are tapping into the available data.

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CBR Opinion
Pricing schemes will determine how quickly cloud compute service like Amazon’s are adopted by business, and the online retailer has provided a neat and tidy option. Used alone, the Requester Pays feature gives Amazon S3 users access to another user’s data, without the data owner having to stump up the data transfer and request costs. On its own DevPay gives anyone access to stored data, but the owner pays for data transfer and requests. Used together, Amazon DevPay allows a business to sell the content stored in any Requester Pays store, or to start charging people a premium to download premium data.

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