Amazon cloud deal to speed discovery

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Amazon Web Services (AWS) has pledged to fuel the pace of new discoveries by making it possible for all scientists to have their own supercomputers in the cloud.

AWS has committed to making it easier for scientists to use its cloud storage, computing, and database services by waiving data egress fees for qualified researchers and academic customers (fees associated with data transfer out from AWS to the internet). The maximum discount is 15 per cent of total monthly spending on AWS services.

However, there is no cost to upload data into AWS, or move data between Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2).

The agreement has been supported through ongoing discussions with Jisc in the UK, GÉANT in Europe, and DLT in the United States – organisations that provide network infrastructure and supporting cloud services to education and research institutions around the world.

Dan Perry, director of product and marketing at Jisc, said: ‘Having predictability and stability in costs is one of the major challenges for researchers in adopting cloud services, so it’s welcome news that AWS is removing egress charges for academic customers.

‘There’s a real opportunity here for cloud computing to become as ubiquitous to research as it is in the commercial market, and with it bring a massive boon to the sector, supporting more efficient, collaborative and innovative research outputs.’

Tony Hey, chief data scientist for the Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC), added: ‘I am delighted that AWS is taking this step to remove uncertainty about egress charging for research use of their cloud infrastructure, following extensive discussions with Jisc and GÉANT. I often hear from researchers that the perception that they will receive large bills for data downloads has discouraged them from considering commercial cloud providers for their compute and data requirements.

‘The cloud has a huge amount to offer in terms of agility and efficiency gains, and also unique capabilities in areas such as machine learning. This is a very welcome development from AWS, and I hope that other cloud providers will move swiftly to follow suit.’

By reducing data egress fees, AWS said it will to help scientists launch their first computing machine in minutes, analyse data pipelines, and store petabytes of data in the cloud, ultimately accelerating time-to-science.

AWS customers are eligible for waiver of egress charges under this program if they:

  • Work in academic or research institutions;
  • Run any research workloads or academic workloads.  However, a few data-egress-as-a-service type applications are not allowed under this program, like web hosting, media streaming, or massively online open courseware (MOOC); or
  • Route at least 80% of their data egress out of the AWS cloud through an approved National Research and Education (NREN) network, such as Internet2, ESnet, GEANT, Janet, SingAREN, SINET, AARNet, and CANARIE. Most research institutions use these government-funded, dedicated networks to connect to AWS.