Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) promises flexibility, versatility, and scalability, but fail to understand the trade-offs between your S3 pricing choices and prepare for spiraling costs and cloud sprawl.

The multitude of S3 options and transfer fees make understanding your choices less simplistic than the S3 name suggests—let Emerge simplify if for you. 

 

What is AWS S3?

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is an object storage service committed to scalability, availability, security, and performance. Most organizations don’t want to be in the business of supporting their own IT organization—it’s an operational headache they can do without. AWS offers up websites, mobile applications, backup and restore, archive, enterprise applications, IoT devices, and big data analytics as a utility. Use it when you want. Outsource the upkeep and innovation to the service provider. Pay for what you use. Simple.

Amazon S3 provides management features to organize data and configure access controls to meet your specific business, organizational, and compliance requirements.

It’s as bespoke as you need it to be. 

 

What are S3 storage classes?

S3 storage classes serve different use cases. These storage classes are not static. S3 Lifecycle policy allows you to manage the data lifecycle (e.g., data will automatically transfer to a different storage class without any changes to your application). 

Storage Classes and expected uses are:

  • S3 Standard: general-purpose storage of frequently accessed data 
  • S3 Intelligent-tiering: unknown or changing access patterns
  • S3 Standard-IA: long-term, but less frequently accessed data
  • S3 One Zone-IA: long-term, less frequently accessed data in one geo
  • S3 Glacier: long-term archive and digital preservation
  • S3 Glacier Deep Archive: long-term archive and digital preservation suitable for regulatory compliance

 

S3 pricing

At the unit rate level, S3 pricing looks astonishingly small. Don’t be fooled. As with all cloud solutions, you pay for what you use. Nominal unit rates deliver a sizeable bill when you are inattentive to the fully-burdened cost of S3.

There’s an inherent contradiction with cloud adoption success.  Early cloud adopters weren’t asked to reign in cloud spend because, in comparison to the rest of the IT budget, total spend was small. That’s not the case anymore. Today, successful cloud adoption delivers a substantial hit on OpEx spend that invites more scrutiny and oversight. OpEx-focused cloud spend providing agility and cutting the longtail commit of CapEx investments isn’t appreciated by Finance teams seeing month-over-month cloud growth with no respite.

Understand upfront, how you will interact with each storage class. S3 Glacier is for long-term, rarely used material (e.g., end-of-lifecycle data). It’s not a good option as a data store for disaster recovery. For that, S3 Intelligent Tiering is a better fit. These aren’t a matter of semantics. Expected usage patterns inform service pricing—that’s how AWS bundle in their profit margin. Prepare to pay over the odds when you provision resources outside those expectations. 

 

Components to S3 pricing

Storage costs. These costs are as you would expect— the cost of storing your data on S3.

Request Pricing. Unless you are using S3 for archive storage or regulatory compliance, S3 data doesn't idly sit in storage. Access, edits, scanning: all these actions on your S3 data is quantifiable and, inevitably, billed. Each storage class has different pricing per request, but activities are the same across classes. They are:

  • POST creates a new object (i.e., upload of a new file)
  • PUT a new object or update of an existing object (i.e., creation or update of a file).
  • LIST request for the contents of a given S3 bucket.
  • GET downloads a file from S3
  • DELETE would be the deletion of a file.
  • S3 Select Data Returned/Data Scanned. S3 Select pulls only the data you need from a storage object. Smaller data pulls improve performance.

S3 Storage Management pricing. Keeping on top of your data requires monitoring tools. S3 monetizes those too. They are:

  • S3 Inventory of listed objects. Cost: $0.0025 per million objects listed.
  • S3 Analytics Storage Class Analysis monitors access to objects. Cost: $0.1 per million objects monitored per month.
  • S3 Object Tagging manages and control access for S3 objects. Cost:$0.01 per 10,000 tags per month.

Data transfer. Data loads in S3 aren't fixed. There are transfer costs associated with how you add or remove data. Not surprisingly, adding new data to S3 is free. But there are different tiers for the transfer of data once it’s added. Transferring from one S3 geo to another ($0.002/GB) is far cheaper than taking your AWS data and shifting to another provider (e.g., $0.009/GB up to 10TB per month). Organizations concerned with vendor lock-in must evaluate data transfer costs as part of their cloud migration TCO.

S3 Transfer acceleration. When time is of the essence, AWS offers a premium data transfer service. It isn’t a given that the transfer acceleration is faster than standard data transfer. Generally, S3 transfer acceleration delivers data speed improvements the further you are away from an S3 region. Check the relative speeds of standard vs. accelerated S3 data transfer here.

Cross-region replication pricing. The replicated copy of storage is based on the destination region, while pricing for requests and inter-region data transfers are based on the source AWS Region.

AWS GovCloud Region. AWS GovCloud is an AWS Region designed to allow US government agencies and contractors to move more sensitive workloads into the cloud. For pricing and more information visit the AWS GovCloud web page.

 

S3 Standard

S3 Standard offers high durability, availability, and performance object storage for frequently accessed data (e.g., cloud applications, dynamic websites, content distribution, mobile and gaming applications, and big data analytics). S3 standard features:

  • Low latency and high throughput performance
  • Backed with the Amazon S3 Service Level Agreement for availability
  • Supports SSL for data in transit and encryption of data at rest
  • S3 Lifecycle management for automatic migration of objects to other S3 Storage Classes 

S3 Standard: performance

  • Durability: 99.999999999% (11 9’s)
  • Availability: 99.99%
  • Availability SLA: 99.9%
  • Availability Zones: ≥3
  • Min capacity charge per object: N/A
  • Min storage duration charge: N/A
  • Retrieval fee: N/A
  • First byte latency: Milliseconds
  • Storage type: Object
  • Lifecycle transitions: Yes

S3 Standard: storage pricing

  • First 50TB / Month: $0.026 per GB*
  • First 450TB / Month: $0.025 per GB*
  • First 500TB / Month: $0.024 per GB*

S3 Standard: request pricing

  • Data returned by S3 Select: $0.0008 per GB*
  • Data scanned by S3 Select: $0.00225 per GB*
  • PUT, COPY, POST, or LIST requests: $0.0055 per 1000 requests*
  • GET, SELECT and all other requests: $0.00044 per 1000 requests*
  • Lifecycle transition request into Standard-IA or One Zone-IA or Intelligent-Tiering: $0.01 per 1000 requests*

 *US: Northern California. All other regions see here.

»Read more: The essential guide to building a cloud center of excellence

S3 Intelligent-Tiering

The S3 Intelligent-Tiering storage class optimizes costs by automatically moving data to the most cost-effective access tier. It’s the ideal storage class for long-lived data with access patterns that are unknown or unpredictable

Performance is optimized by frequent and infrequent access. S3 monitors access patterns and moves objects to the most appropriate tier. Objects not accessed for 30 consecutive days move to the infrequent access tier; objects accessed in the infrequent access tier is automatically moved back to the frequent access tier. S3 Intelligent-Tiering features:

  • Low latency and high throughput performance of S3 Standard
  • Small monthly monitoring and auto-tiering fee
  • Automatically moves objects between two access tiers based on changing access patterns
  • Backed with the Amazon S3 Service Level Agreement for availability
  • Supports SSL for data in transit and encryption of data at rest
  • S3 Lifecycle management for automatic migration of objects to other S3 Storage Classes

S3 Intelligent-Tiering: performance

  • Durability: 99.999999999% (11 9’s)
  • Availability: 99.99%
  • Availability SLA: 99.9%
  • Availability Zones: ≥3
  • Min capacity charge per object: N/A
  • Min storage duration charge: 30 days
  • Retrieval fee: N/A
  • First byte latency: Milliseconds
  • Storage type: Object
  • Lifecycle transitions: Yes

S3 Intelligent-Tiering: storage pricing

Frequent access tier

  • First 50TB / Month: $0.026 per GB*
  • Next 450TB / Month: $0.025 per GB*
  • Over 500 TB / Month: $0.024 per GB*

Infrequent access tier: $0.019 per GB*

Monitoring and automation: $0.0025 per 1000 objects

S3 Intelligent-Tiering: request pricing

  • Data returned by S3 Select: $0.0008 per GB*
  • Data scanned by S3 Select: $0.00225 per GB*
  • PUT, COPY, POST, or LIST requests: $0.0055 per 1000 requests*
  • GET, SELECT and all other requests: $0.00044 per 1000 requests*
  • Lifecycle transition request into Standard-IA or One Zone-IA or Intelligent-Tiering: $0.01 per 1000 requests*

 *US: Northern California. All other regions see here. 

 

S3 Standard Infrequent Access (IA)

S3 Standard-AI is for rarely accessed data. But when needed, it’s needed. Storage pricing is lower for Standard-AI than Standard, but you pay a premium in retrieval charges. As with all Cloud services, every interaction with your data can (and usually is) monetized by your provider—AWS is no different.

S3 Standard is ideal for long-term storage, backups, and as a data store for disaster recovery files. Break out of these scenarios, and you will incur excessive retrieval charges.  S3 Standard Infrequent Access (IA) features:

  • Low latency and high throughput performance of S3 Standard
  • Fault tolerant across Availability Zones.
  • Backed with the Amazon S3 Service Level Agreement for availability
  • S3 Lifecycle management for automatic migration of objects to other S3 Storage Classes

S3 Standard IA: performance

  • Durability: 99.999999999% (11 9’s)
  • Availability: 99.5%
  • Availability SLA: 99%
  • Availability Zones: ≥3
  • Min capacity charge per object: 128KB
  • Min storage duration charge: 30 days
  • Retrieval fee: per GB retrieved
  • First byte latency: Milliseconds
  • Storage type: Object
  • Lifecycle transitions: Yes

S3 Standard IA: pricing

  • All storage / month: $0.19 per GB*
  • Data Retrievals $0.01 per GB*
  • Data returned by S3 Select $0.01 per GB*
  • Data scanned by S3 Select $0.00225 per GB*
  • PUT, COPY, or POST Requests $0.01 per 1000 requests
  • GET, SELECT and all other Requests $.0.001 per 1000 requests

*US: Northern California. All other regions see here

»Read more: The ultimate cheat sheet for cloud migration TCO analysis 

 

S3 One Zone Infrequent Access (IA)

S3 One Zone-IA is 20% cheaper than S3 Standard-IA and is a good option for infrequent data access. AWS hosts data in multiple locations composed of Regions (separate geographical areas) and Availability Zones (isolated locations within each Region). Other S3 Storage Classes store data in a minimum of three Availability Zones (AZs). S3 One Zone-IA does not have that redundancy—if the Availability Zone is destroyed so goes your data.

It’s an ideal use for secondary backup copies of on-premises data. S3 One Zone Infrequent Access (IA) features:

  • Low latency and high throughput performance of S3 Standard
  • Backed with the Amazon S3 Service Level Agreement for availability
  • Supports SSL for data in transit and encryption of data at rest

S3 Lifecycle management for automatic migration of objects to other S3 Storage Classes

S3 One Zone IA: Performance

  • Durability: 99.999999999% (11 9’s)
  • Availability: 99.5%
  • Availability: SLA 99%
  • Availability zones: 1
  • Min capacity charge per object: 128KB
  • Min storage duration charge: 30 days
  • Retrieval fee: per GB retrieved
  • First byte latency: Milliseconds
  • Storage type: Object
  • Lifecycle transitions: Yes

S3 One Zone IA: pricing

  • All storage/Month: $0.0152 per GB*
  • Data retrievals $0.01 per GB*
  • Data returned by S3 Select $0.01 per GB*
  • Data scanned by S3 Select $0.00225 per GB*
  • PUT, COPY, or POST Requests $0.01 per 1000 requests
  • GET, SELECT and all other Requests $.0.001 per 1000 requests

*US: Northern California. All other regions see here

 

[WEBINAR] Why cloud costs are so complicated, and what to do about it 

S3 Glacier

S3 is priced to be competitive with on-premises archive storage solutions. Retrievals costs are prohibitively expensive compared with S3 Standard—and that’s with intent. Archive storage isn’t designed to be frequently accessed. If you are regularly accessing your archive storage, think about reclassifying what you define as archive and leverage a more suitable S3 storage class.

You can upload objects directly to S3 Glacier, or use S3 Lifecycle policies to transfer data between any of the S3 Storage Classes.  S3 Glacier features:

  • Data is resilient in the event of one entire Availability Zone destruction
  • Supports SSL for data in transit and encryption of data at rest
  • Configurable retrieval times, from minutes to hours
  • S3 PUT API for direct uploads to S3 Glacier and S3 Lifecycle management for automatic migration of objects

S3 Glacier: performance

  • Durability: 99.999999999% (11 9’s)
  • Availability: 99.99%
  • Availability: SLA 99.9%
  • Availability: zones ≥3
  • Min capacity charge per object: 40K
  • Min storage duration charge: 90 days
  • Retrieval fee: per GB retrieved
  • First byte latency: Select minutes or hours
  • Storage type: Object
  • Lifecycle transitions: Yes

S3 Glacier: pricing

All storage / month: $0.005 per GB*

Data retrievals:

  • Expedited $0.033 per GB*
  • Standard $0.011 per GB*
  • Bulk $0.00275 per GB*

Data retrieval requests:

  • Expedited $11 per 1000 request
  • Standard $0.055 per 1000 requests
  • Bulk $0.0275 per 1000 requests
  • PUT requests to Glacier $0.055 per 1000 requests
  • Lifecycle Transition Requests into Glacier $0.055 per 1000 requests
  • *US: Northern California. All other regions see here.

 

S3 Glacier Deep Archive

S3 Glacier Deep Archive supports long-term retention and digital preservation for data that may be accessed once or twice in a year (e.g., regulatory compliance requirements).

S3 Glacier Deep Archive is an easy-to-manage alternative to magnetic tape systems and features:

  • Lowest cost storage class designed for long-term retention of data (7-10 years).
  • Retrieval time within 12 hours
  • S3 PUT API for direct uploads to S3 Glacier Deep Archive and S3 Lifecycle management for automatic migration of objects

S3 Glacier Deep Archive: performance

  • Durability: 99.999999999% (11 9’s)
  • Availability: 99.99%
  • Availability: SLA 99.9%
  • Availability zones:  ≥3
  • Min capacity: charge per object 40K
  • Min storage duration charge: 180 days
  • Retrieval fee: per GB retrieved
  • First byte latency: Select hours
  • Storage type: Object
  • Lifecycle transitions: Yes

S3 Glacier Deep Archive: storage pricing 

All storage / month: $0.002 per GB*

Data retrievals:

  • Standard $0.022 per GB*
  • Bulk $0.0035 per GB*

Data retrieval requests:

  • Standard $11 per 1000 request
  • Bulk $0.0275 per 1000 requests
  • PUT requests to Glacier $0.06 per 1000 requests
  • Lifecycle Transition Requests into Glacier $0.06 per 1000 requests

*US: Northern California. All other regions see here

Create business value through informed and accelerated cloud and hybrid-related decisions. Understand and optimize the total cost of cloud and hybrid with Apptio Cloudability.

  • SEE a unified view of cloud and on-premises costs, utilization, and capacity.
  • KNOW cost and consumption of cloud and hybrid to optimize and govern. 
  • TRANSFORM from siloed decision-making to collaborative accountability. 

 

»Download these eBooks to optimize hybrid and cloud by right-sizing legacy spend, shifting savings to innovation, and efficiently embracing cloud: 

»Read next, on Emerge: