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Evaluating Amazon WorkSpaces Hourly Billing

Until yesterday, Amazon WorkSpaces were charged on a monthly basis. This meant that when you created a workspace, you were automatically charged a pro-rated monthly fee assuming you would be running the workspace for the remainder of the month. At the start of all subsequent months, you were automatically charged the full monthly fee.

Yesterday, Amazon announced an hourly billing option to Amazon WorkSpaces. Depending on your usage style, your workspace could cost less than the monthly “always on” cost.

There are some differences between the “always on” option and the hourly billing option. Those being:

  • The workspace will stop after a pre-determined amount of time of inactivity. That time can be configured in 1-hour increments anywhere from 1 hour up to 48 hours.
  • When the workspace is in a stopped state, it will automatically start when you attempt to connect to your workspace. However, that startup time can be anywhere from 1 minute to 4 minutes depending on the power of your workspace. Amazon says it’s typically 90 seconds.

At first glance, all of this sounds really good. But before you jump in with hourly pricing, take a close look at your workspace usage style and the pricing in your region.

We took a look at the new hourly pricing and compared it to the “always on” pricing. Right away, we noticed that if you choose the hourly option for your workspace and you run the workspace for an entire month, the cost is much higher than if you chose the “always on” option. The hourly pricing still includes a fixed monthly price. That fixed price is to cover infrastructure costs.

We put together a chart of pricing for the US Virginia region (us-east-1), calculating the “break-even” point.

Bundle Monthly Pricing Hourly Pricing Break-even Point
Value $25 $7.25 + $0.22 / hr 80.7 hours
Standard $35 $9.75 + $0.30 / hr 84.2 hours
Performance $60 $13.00 + $0.57 / hr 82.5 hours

Across all bundles, once you pass approximately 80 hours per month of hourly billing, it would be more cost-effective to use the “always on” option. That’s only two 40-hour “work weeks”.

So while the hourly billing may be good for some usage scenarios, it’s not inexpensive enough for “business-hours only” usage. To make the new hourly billing option cost-effective, a workspace needs to have very low usage.

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