Amazon adds new S3 twist: Make people pay to access your data

Requester Pays option lets data owners shift Amazon's bandwidth fees to external users Inc. has rolled out a new option for its Simple Storage Service (S3) that lets data owners shift the cost of accessing their information to other people or entities.

Until now, individuals or businesses with information stored on S3 had to pay data-transfer costs to Amazon when others made use of the information. Amazon said the new Requester Pays option relieves data providers of that burden, leaving them to pay only the basic storage fees for the cloud computing service.

In a section about Requester Pays in its S3 developer guide, Amazon said the feature could be useful for large data sets that are made available to outsiders, such as zip code directories, reference data, geospatial information and Web crawling data.

The new option also gives S3 users the potential to create business models in which they could sell access to their data, according to Amazon.

Using the Requester Pays feature by itself will only save on bandwidth costs, Amazon said. But, it added, data access could be sold for a profit by using the chargeback option in tandem with Amazon's DevPay service, a system for billing the usage of online services hosted by the company.

Via DevPay, S3 customers offering data to outside users could charge monthly access fees as well as markups on the data-transfer costs and the processing of "GET" data requests, Amazon said.

When Requester Pays is invoked, the entity being billed must be authenticated, which enables Amazon to identify and bill the requester.

S3 lets developers store information, or "objects" ranging from 1 byte to 5GB in a so-called data bucket. It can be used in combination with Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) service.

Data requests and transfers between S3 and EC2 within the same geographic region, such as the U.S. or Europe, are free even when the Requester Pays option is enabled, Amazon said.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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