In Pictures: Amazon's Cloud feels the heat from Google, HP, Microsoft

Amazon Web Services is the default IaaS provider - but for how long? Here's a quick look at how five ambitious players stack up against the incumbent

Amazon strikes back

The collection of products and services offered by Amazon Web Services would fill a small book, from a broad range of EC2 instance types to NoSQL databases to Hadoop/MapReduce services to virtual private cloud capability and a vast software marketplace. And the leader is not standing still.

In March 2012, Amazon struck a preemptive blow by dropping prices on both its EC2 service and its hourly rates for long-term contract customers. The prices for Reserved Instances, which involve a one-year contract, were sliced by up to a third. Even bigger volume discounts are available, but most of the cuts are intended to entice entry-level customers who could be lured by competitors. As before, you can take advantage of a year-long free trial.

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