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Cloud services are the future of Internet applications, or so the analysts say. So, if you’re looking to test the waters on adding value-added applications and services delivered in a cloud environment to your product and services roster, you are in luck. Internet retailer and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provider Amazon announced a free usage tier for its cloud computing platform Amazon Web Services (AWS) recently as part of its earnings call.

Beginning on November 1, new AWS users can get the following monthly services  at no cost for one year:

  • 750 hours of Amazon EC2 Linux Micro Instance usage (613 MB of memory and 32-bit and 64-bit platform support) – enough hours to run continuously each month
  • 750 hours of an Elastic Load Balancer plus 15 GB data processing*
  • 10 GB of Amazon Elastic Block Storage, plus 1 million I/Os, 1 GB of snapshot storage, 10,000 snapshot Get Requests and 1,000 snapshot Put Requests
  • 5 GB of Amazon S3 storage, 20,000 Get Requests, and 2,000 Put Requests
  • 30 GB per of internet data transfer (15 GB of data transfer “in” and 15 GB of data transfer “out” across all services except Amazon CloudFront)
  • 25 Amazon SimpleDB Machine Hours and 1 GB of Storage
  • 100,000 Requests of Amazon Simple Queue Service
  • 100,000 Requests, 100,000 HTTP notifications and 1,000 email notifications for Amazon Simple Notification Service

So, why is this important? Amazon’s cloud platform already is reaching far and wide across the Internet, and is used in a variety of applications and infrastructure products that are in use every day on mobile devices and in the enterprise. With this free services give-away, they have lowered the barrier of entry for companies looking to experiment with cloud delivery models, both on the vendor and the user side.

That means Amazon understands that to become the market’s preferred IaaS provider, they need to help lead the innovation of all of the social and context-based applications that are supposedly coming over the next two years.

“Context will also be a key criteria for the selection of partners. Many mobile business systems will exploit contextual cloud services hosted by others,” Nick Jones, Gartner VP and Distinguished Analyst recently said.  “Context will also be bound up with social relationships and social networks, illustrated today by services such as location-tagged posts to Facebook and Twitter.”

Sure, they may be the Internet’s most well-known retailer, but this move shows an increased dedication to a component of their business that is poised for massive growth over the next few years.