Amazon offers cloud apps at hourly rates from IBM, SAP, others

The Amazon Web Services marketplace could give customers better ability to try-before-they-buy

Amazon Web Services on Thursday announced a new online marketplace that allows customers to buy software and services from a variety of vendors at hourly rates through its cloud infrastructure platform.

Commercial software vendors including IBM, Microsoft, SAP, and CA Technologies are offering products for sale on the site. A variety of open-source software is also available, including the Drupal content management system, SugarCRM and a number of application development stacks.

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In some cases, the software is available at no charge, with customers only paying for the amount of Amazon compute power and storage they use.

Software can be launched either with Amazon's 1-Click technology or the Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) console, for additional control.

Customer billing is handled by the AWS system. Existing AWS customers can receive and pay their application charges on their regular AWS bill, according to a statement. This setup makes life easier for both customers as well as vendors, since they will save money and effort otherwise spent on marketing, distribution and overhead, Amazon said.

AWS Marketplace is currently open only to vendors "with a US Subsidiary that can submit a W-9 tax form," according to a notice on the site.

Many software vendors, including some who are participating in the marketplace, had already offered customers the ability to run their products on Amazon's infrastructure.

But the additional streamlining AWS Marketplace applies to the buying process could give customers a more painless way to test out software before making a more substantial investment, particularly in commercial applications like SAP Business Objects, which typically carry hefty price tags.

While commercial vendors typically offer free trials of their products, they are often limited to 30 days and require a local install. But a customer could rent software through AWS Marketplace for a longer, open-ended period, giving them the chance to fully vet the product without having to sign a long-term contract or tie up hardware resources.

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