AWS Outposts 2021: Stories For Folks Who Love Spreadsheets

Adam Leventhal
8 min readJan 30, 2021

AWS Outposts is a rack-scale computer that runs on premises. The most recent re:Invent had a bunch of sessions about changes to Outposts. One change that happened without much fanfare is a new lower price (note: LOW-ER, not LOW). I looked at Outposts pricing last year shortly after it was released. As with that analysis there are some more stories and oddities hiding in the numbers: customer and sales feedback, trial balloons popped, months-long miscommunications, and — as with any pandemic-era story — a reversion to tedium.

Pricing changes from 2020 to 2021

AWS Outposts is an extension of the cloud that lives in your own facilities (either your DC or a colo). It’s a 42U rack that comes with different quantities of EC2 instance types (and therefore different quantities of CPU threads (vCPUs), DRAM, GPUs, and SSD capacity). It’s not a private cloud in that it is tightly bound to the AWS control plane (and a particular AWS region and availability zone). Rather, it’s a little chunk of AWS physically close to your other systems.

All the analysis below is grounded on calculations you can find in this spreadsheet.

Margin Call

In last year’s analysis we saw that the cover charge for an Outpost rack was about $200k before you start adding useful components like CPUs and DRAM. That’s for the rack, the power, the switch, fans.. other stuff? Wheels? In case that doesn’t sound crazy: it is. Deeply. The margin on those components must have been astronomical. Maybe some customers noticed and rebelled.

Outposts come in several flavors that support different EC2 instance types. The price of each model is a simple linear combination of the component instances whose prices we can derive. The new price of the rack is exactly $80k — slightly more reasonable than it was last year.

Adam Leventhal

Building computers at Oxide; past: DTrace, ZFS, Delphix CTO, Transposit founder, CEO