The key benefits of buying software as an Amazon Machine Image (AMI)

  • Richard Thelwell
  • January 28, 2016

amazon-machine-image-softwareSince its launch in 2012, the AWS Marketplace has completely revolutionised the way that software is sold and deployed. The success of this $1 billion platform can be largely attributed to the method of deployment, with Amazon Machine Image (AMI) set-up bypassing many of the traditionally arduous processes involved in software installation.

There are over 2,200 products available on the AWS Marketplace right now, and this number continues to grow apace.

The Marketplace has simplified the search and installation process for enterprise software, and users are tuning into the benefits of AMI-based deployment.

In this article, we take a look at three of the key benefits that can be gained from purchasing software as an AMI through the AWS Marketplace.

What is an AMI?

Firstly, let’s take a look at what we mean when we say AMI.

An AMI – or Amazon Machine Image – is a master image containing the information required to launch ‘instances’, or virtual servers in the cloud.

AMIs provide a template for the root volume required to launch a particular instance. This will typically include the operating systems, an application server and applications.

Also included in the AMI are launch permissions that restrict the ability to launch instances from that AMI to defined AWS accounts. Finally, a block device mapping specifies the volumes to attach to the instance once it is launched.

Once an AMI has been created and registered, it can be used to launch new instances. An AMI can be copied to different regions, and once you are finished, it can also be deregistered. This is reflected in the diagram below, which shows an AMI lifecycle.


AMIs can be attained directly from AWS, can be created and shared through communities, or can be purchased from vendors via the AWS Marketplace.

Faster set-up

One of the key benefits of an AMI deployment is that the process is often much quicker and smoother than traditional software installations.

With software delivered as an AMI on the AWS Marketplace, there is no manual installation, no lengthy configuration process, and no additional hardware requirements on the part of the user.

amazon machine image marketplace

Simply choose your instance size, type in your existing AWS credentials and using ‘one click launch’, you can be up and running utilising these tools in a matter of minutes.

To see just how easy this AMI setup can be, check out the ‘Launching the product’ section on our support site.

Simplified pricing

Amazon EC2 integrates with the AWS Marketplace, which allows software vendors to charge for the use of their AMIs.

amazon machine image pricing

With products bought through the AWS Marketplace, payment is made simple. All billing is contained within the Marketplace platform and payment is taken using your existing AWS billing details.

This pricing is set by the vendor, but is clearly stated on the Marketplace page, along with the usage fees for related web services such as running an instance on EC2.

AWS aims to simplify software licensing by forcing ISVs to agree to set pricing structures, without confusing Services Provider License Agreements (SPLAs). AMIs can usually be found with both hourly and annual pricing structures, with the latter option typically offering a significant price reduction.

Try before you buy

With many of the products available on the AWS Marketplace, there are often a number of ways for you to ‘try before you buy’.

One of these ways is through spinning up a free trial of a product, an offer provided by a large number of vendors on the Marketplace. This usually means that the software costs are wavered for a limited period of time, and only standard AWS infrastructure costs are incurred during this time.

This can be a great way of getting ‘hands-on’ experience with the tool before committing to becoming an hourly or annual license holder.

On top of this, some AWS Technology Partners also offer more advanced, step-by-step demos of their products through AWS test drive programmes.

Test drives provide a private IT sandbox environment containing preconfigured server-based solutions. Each test drive incorporates a suitable amount of free AWS datacentre time in which a step-by-step tutorial can be completed within the product.

Matillion ETL for Amazon Redshift: a powerful ETL/ELT tool, delivered as an AMI

All in all, purchasing software via the AWS Marketplace is a much quicker, straightforward process with greater transparency over usage costs and more flexible licensing options.

Matillion ETL for Amazon Redshift enables organisations to simplify data loading, transformation and orchestration in Amazon Redshift.

It’s a modern ETL/ELT tool built specifically for Amazon Redshift, delivered as an AMI on the AWS Marketplace, bringing about all the benefits that we have discussed in this article.

You can access a free 14-day trial of Matillion ETL for Amazon Redshift on the AWS Marketplace right now.

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