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Data Transfer Costs; Everything You Need To Know

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There are many cloud services and pricing models to choose from in a market dominated by AWS. Although AWS lets you pick the services that best fit your IT landscape, organizations quickly end up with complex and lengthy cloud bills, for instance data transfer prices often end up contributing up to 30% to the total cost.

However, as they say, being pampered for choice and variety has its own downside, the same is true for Cloud.

Had it been one or two services or, pricing models being used for your workload, understanding the cloud bill would be no challenge. However, the fact that hundreds of services and various pricing models are required to run multiple projects simultaneously explains that estimating cloud cost and spiky surprises can be extremely difficult for new and advanced users alike. In any case, it needs need to be managed.

Data transfer costs come on top of every other service cost in AWS.

Controlling your data transfer costs boils down to getting clarity on what data transfer cost is, how they are associated with other services, and architecting in an optimal state.

What do we mean by AWS Data Transfer Costs?

AWS data transfer prices vary for transferring data in-and-out as well as to-and-from an AWS cloud service. You are also charged with transferring data into one service from another AWS service and charged for transferring data out of the service to another one. These AWS data transfer prices differ for different services.

It is quite important to understand that AWS data transfer prices fluctuate on the basis of regions.

For each and every AWS Region, there’s a fee for transferring data across services within the same region and, for moving data across services outside that region. The applicable charges are different with a lot of variance. Some regional data transfer prices vary based on capacity.

How Data Transfer Makes Your Cloud bill Skyrocket?

In AWS, data transfer between regions generally rips off your pocket as compared to intra-region data transfer between various availability zones (AZs). Whereas, data transfer between different availability zones incurs a higher cost than what is charged for transferring data within an availability zone.

What can be concluded from the above statements is that costs incurred are the highest if data is transferred across different regions.

  • Data transfer into EC2 is usually free but, the outbound transfer has its fees. This is something that gets many new AWS customers to get caught in the “unawareness” trap. Generally, data transfer “OUT from Amazon EC2 to the Internet” incurs substantial costs. These costs can rapidly pile up and significantly contribute to your month-to-month cloud bills.
  • Re-hosted applications that are not configured and/or aligned with AWS features need a reality check as they are prone to sky-rocket the costs being discussed. They should be re-architected (opening opportunity door for an MSP with the right skills) to ensure that data transfers are completed through the cheapest route possible.
  • Enterprises leveraging the benefits of Hybrid Cloud need to think over their on-premise data centers. The communication and incremental migrations to the Cloud from on-premise systems can bring spiky surprises to Cloud bills.

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Cut Down Your AWS Data Transfer Prices

AWS data transfer price can vary depending on how you architect an infrastructure that streams your data along the cheapest routes possible.

Pick Your Regions Wisely:

AWS-Data-Region

With a standard perspective, irrespective of different fees for different AWS services and data capacities, pulling across Regions is expensive. You probably need to narrow down the number of Regions that your data flows across.

If you transfer data across different availability zones within the same region, odds are; charges will be lower than what used to be. If you take a data transfer route that is confined to a single AZ within a single AWS Region, the costs are the lowest. If either way does not work out, try architecting or re-architecting your frameworks in a way so that the data transfer across various AWS regions or availability zones is minimum.

When you’re selecting a region, keep in mind that all regional data transfers are not going to cost you equally.

For example, consider the pricing range regarding the cost to transfer up to 40 TB of data OUT from EC2 to the Internet from each region:

AWS Regions

Cost of Transferring Next 40 TB of Data OUT from EC2 to the Internet (per month)

South America (Sao Paulo) $0.200 per GB
US East (N. Virginia) $0.080 per GB
US East (Ohio) $0.080 per GB
US West (Oregon) $0.080 per GB
Asia Pacific (Mumbai) $0.130 per GB
Asia Pacific (Singapore) $0.135 per GB
EU (Frankfurt) $0.080 per GB
EU (London) $0.080 per GB
AWS GovCloud (US) $0.080 per GB
Asia Pacific (Seoul) $0.135 per GB
Asia Pacific (Sydney) $0.098 per GB
Asia Pacific (Tokyo) $0.089 per GB

(As of October 2019)

Organizations can thus choose accordingly, considering the least expensive AZ(s) within the cheapest Region amongst all.

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Selection and Organization of Services is Important:

There are particular AWS services that cost more to send and/or receive data as compared to others. Taking capacity as an additional factor, your infrastructure choices or the AWS environment you choose for data flow can significantly affect your data transfer pricing.

Your best option is to analyze what services incur higher costs for transferring data to and from within the selected region. Then re-design it in a manner that you don’t need to transfer data along costly routes on a regular basis. Go for low-cost alternatives that would equally cater to your needs.

IP Addresses Can Save You Some:

A commonly ignored fact is that the type of IP address used directly impacts data transfer prices and makes many AWS customers pay big-time. Costs are higher when data is transferred using a public IP or Elastic IP address as compared to using a private IP, which is often ignored.

Therefore, if you have the option to operate in and out of private IP addresses instead of public or elastic IP addresses consistently, do not step back. This is going to bring some significant savings.

A trend of “modest to huge” spends is followed in your AWS cloud bill. This is due to transferring large volumes of data via public or elastic IP addresses. AWS customers usually neglect or forget the fact that compressing or caching their data before transferring can save quite an amount.

Since IP addresses alone cannot save you much, you should enable caching at your origin servers or S3 for CloudFront edge locations to accelerate delivery of your websites, APIs, video content or other web assets. Enable compression of static as well as dynamic content such as HTML, Javascript, JSON, etc. to ensure cost savings on bandwidth.

Also, when you deploy production changes, do not forget to automate server-side compression and client-side caching post-deployment in your release automation cycle.

This way you can save more on your data transfer jobs and take a step ahead towards AWS Cloud Cost Optimization.

Cloud Evangelist
Cloud Evangelist
Cloud Evangelists are CMI's in house ambassadors for the entire Cloud ecosystem. They are responsible for propagating the doctrine of cloud computing and help community members make informed decisions.

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