No Freebies for Developers

Many AWS experts have advocated for AWS sandbox accounts and hard billing limitations that cannot be exceeded
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There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Developers worldwide have found themselves nodding to this in unison with Github Copilot AI charging for the programming assistance tool and Heroku planning to scrap the free tier from November this year. 

In June, Microsoft’s GitHub released its Copilot AI programming assistance tool after a year-long free technical trial and limited the trial for 60 days. After the trial period, the software would cost $10 per month or $100 per year.

In a blog post, without divulging too many details, Salesforce claimed that the main reason for eliminating free tier was “an exceptional amount of effort” being put into preventing fraud and abuse. Experts, however, feel that Salesforce does not want to concentrate on non-paying developers who use the free tier to create and test their applications. 

With the end of Heroku’s free tier, Salesforce will concentrate its attention on Heroku Enterprise, a paid platform that offers extras like Heroku Connect and Heroku Flow to complete the DevOps experience. There are alternatives to Heroku’s free tiers, but none of them will offer the same experience.

Besides, other application platforms from companies like IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and Red Hat are also transforming into DevOps platforms, which no longer cater to developers with free versions but instead appeal to ops teams through advanced add-on services.

Growing concerns about AWS 

Rishabh Verma, a computer engineer, received a bill of Rs 20,000 from AWS. It was shocking for him since he was using the free tier RDS database and apparently, its free tier eligibility had expired.

When he reached out to the company, he was informed that an “exceed free limits” alert was sent to him, which he probably chose to ignore. Verma was dumbfounded, because he acted swiftly after he received the alert. Upon enquiring with more experienced developers, he discovered that AWS billing alerts are late by a day and many dollars short of your real usage up to that point. When the first warning is sent by AWS, you may realise that you’ve already exceeded the criteria for free tier.

Many AWS experts have advocated for AWS sandbox accounts and hard billing limitations that cannot be exceeded in order to allow developers to experiment with new services without endangering their personal well-being.

According to Corey Quinn, cloud economist at The Duckbill Group, the free tier of AWS is faulty and should be changed. The free models offered by major cloud providers differ and may not assist beginners in adhering to best practices in cloud deployments.

AWS has three different offerings under the title free tier, depending on the product used. There are “always free” options available to all AWS customers that do not expire, such as one million requests per month on AWS Lambda or 25GB of storage on DynamoDB. Then there are “12 months free” offerings that are time-limited from the first sign-up date and include popular services such as Amazon EC2 or RDS, but with varying restrictions. Finally, there are “trials” that begin with the activation of a service, such as Amazon Inspector or GuardDuty.

“I think the model is broken enough that it’s time to drastically reimagine the AWS Free Tier entirely. I get that it’s super hard, with an awful lot of moving parts. But Oracle, Azure, and GCP have all mastered this problem in a far more comprehensive, less user-hostile way,” said Quinn from The Duckbill Group.

How to avoid incurring charges

Although there is presently no method to place a hard restriction on billing, AWS Support explains how to prevent costs when using the AWS Free Tier and has repeatedly shown itself to be helpful and reimburse the inadvertent payments.

Microsoft provides a spending limit functionality that is turned on by default to all new sign ups for an Azure free account or subscription types that include credits over several months. Those using the Google Cloud free program are not charged unless they specifically enable billing by switching from a free to a paid Cloud Billing account. Although there are some options in the AWS space, they are currently limited.

There are AWS Educate Starter Accounts, which offer no-credit-card access to a certain subset of services. However, access to this is restricted to participating academic institutions. Experts believe that making this available to all students would be a significant improvement.

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Tausif Alam
Tausif Alam has been covering technology for almost a decade now. He is keen about connecting dots and bringing a wholesome picture of the tech world.

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