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New AWS instances drive down previous-generation prices

New AWS instances will mean cost savings for IT pros, even if they don't purchase instances from the new M4 line.

New AWS M4 instances add heft to the Elastic Compute Cloud at the high end, while lightening the pricing load on previous-generation instances.

The new Amazon Web Services (AWS) instances start at 8 GB of RAM in the m4.large and can scale up to 160 GB of RAM in the m4.10xlarge. All the instances are attached to Elastic Block Store storage and feature Enhanced Networking, which boosts network throughput using Single-Root I/O Virtualization.

AWS also reduced the On-Demand and One Year Reserved Instances prices for the M3 and C4 instances by 5% in half of its regions. So, for example, where the C4.large instance on demand used to cost $0.116 per hour for Linux and $0.199 per hour for Windows, it now costs $0.110 per hour for Linux and $0.193 per hour for Windows in the U.S. East (Northern Virginia), U.S. West (Oregon), Europe (Ireland), Europe (Frankfurt), Asia Pacific (Tokyo and Sydney)regions.

"To IT pros it's like the early days of Wal-Mart," said Daniel Heacock, a consultant with c3/consulting, an IT consulting and managed services firm based in Nashville, Tenn. "The prices just keep falling."

IT pros suss out AWS instances details

The new AWS instances support 64-bit Hardware Virtual Machine (HVM) Amazon Machine Images (AMIs), as opposed to para-virtualization (PV) AMIs, launched within a Virtual Private Cloud.

The main difference between PV and HVM AMIs is how they boot and whether they can take advantage of special hardware extensions (CPU, network, and storage) for better performance, according to Amazon's documentation. Amazon says HVM AMIs offer better performance than PV AMIs.

"This is not an issue for manually launched instances, but if you are creating AMI images bases on the PV AMI you won’t be able to use these new instance types," said Hartman Wagner, principal software engineer for Progress Software Corp. in Bedford, Mass.

Wagner's company  moved to HVM based AMIs to take advantage of Enhanced Networking and having these new instance types gives the company more choices, Wagner said

As with C4 instances, introduced last year, most customers will take a cautious approach to deploying the new boxes.

The new M4 instances don’t appear to provide any functionality that companies such as Robert Half International, a staffing firm based in Menlo Park, Calif., have  been desperately waiting for, but they'll undoubtedly move to them over time to keep current on instance types, said James Fogerson, senior solutions architect with Robert Half. 

 "Our Hadoop and Big Data or search servers might be good choices for these high-end instance classes," Fogerson said.

Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for SearchAWS. Write to her at [email protected] or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.

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