AWS: Here's how our cloud-computing infrastructure dealt with Amazon Prime day

Amazon's Prime Day is an online-buying frenzy for consumers. Here's how Amazon Web Services dealt with it.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

AWS has detailed how its cloud-computing infrastructure supported Amazon's huge Prime Day sales event.

Amazon's Prime Day 2022 on July 12 was its biggest since kicking off the event in 2015. This year, Prime subscribers bought more than 300 million items worldwide during the event. Customers were purchasing items at a rate of 100,000 per minute worldwide, and at 60,000 a minute in the US, according to Amazon

Underpinning Prime Day was Amazon Web Services' (AWS) compute and storage infrastructure as well as its database, email and messaging services. Now, AWS has outlined key metrics for the support it delivered to Amazon Prime Day 2022.   

"A multitude of two-pizza teams worked together to make sure that every part of our infrastructure was scaled, tested, and ready to serve our customers," said AWS chief evangelist Jeff Barr.

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Amazon Aurora is Amazon's MySQL and PostgreSQL-compatible database. On Prime Day 2022, 5,326 Aurora instances processed 288 billion transactions, stored 1,849 terabytes of data, and transferred 749 terabytes of data. 

Amazon increased the total number of "normalized instances" (an internal metric) on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) by 12% in 2022 compared to Prime Day 2021. 

This year for Prime Day it also added 152 petabytes (1 petabyte equals 1 million gigabytes) of Amazon Elastic Block Storage (EBS), which handled 11.4 trillion requests per day and transferred 532 petabytes of data per day.  But Amazon notes it used about 4% less EBS storage and transferred 13% less data than it did during Prime Day 2021.

Amazon's Simple Email Service peaked at 33,000 Prime Day email messages per second while its Simple Queue Service (SQS) peaked at 70.5 million messages per second, setting a record for it. 

Amazon Alexa and the amazon.com sites are underpinned by DynamoDB. The sites made trillions of calls to DynamoDB application protocol interface on Prime Day. The database peaked at 105.2 million requests per second. 

The Amazon Robotics Pick Time Estimator uses Amazon SageMaker to train a machine-learning model to predict how long future pick operations will take. It processed more than 100 million transactions on Prime Day. 

Finally, AWS offered some metrics about its package-planning systems for delivering Prime Day purchases. 

On Prime 2022 day in North America, its package-planning systems performed 60 million AWS Lambda invocations, processed 17 terabytes of compressed data in [S3], stored 64 million items across Amazon DynamoDB and Amazon ElastiCache, served 200 million events over Amazon Kinesis, and handled 50 million Amazon Simple Queue Service events.  

These are no doubt impressive figures for one of the biggest online-shopping events each year. But Amazon is not immune to the macro-economic pressures of inflation, causing price rises in food, vehicles, computing components and streaming services. 

Amazon today told Prime customers in Europe that it is raising Prime fees by as much as 43% for the delivery and streaming service.

European Prime subscribers will see the price rise on subscriptions that are renewed from September 15.

The price rises affect Prime subscribers in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Brits will see annual subscription prices rise by 20% from £79 to £95, while annual subscriptions in Germany will rise 30% from €69 to €89.90. 

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Annual subscriptions in France will rise by 43% from €49 to €69. And per the Verge, annual subscriptions in Italy and Spain will rise 36% from €36 to €49.           

Monthly subscription prices are rising by about £1 or €1 in each of the affected markets. 

An Amazon spokesperson told Financial Times the price rise was due to "increased inflation and operating costs". 

It's the first time that Amazon has raised the cost of Prime in the UK since 2014. 

Amazon announced a price hike for Prime annual subscriptions in the US this February from $119 to $139 — its first price rise in the US since 2018.

Amazon told subscribers in each of the affected markets the reason for the increase was due to increased operating costs and the creation of more Amazon Original content. Amazon in March also closed its $8.4bn acquisition of MGM studios.     

"We are focused on constantly improving the Prime program," Amazon told French Prime subscribers in an email. 

"Since we launched Prime in France, we have expanded the selection of products eligible for Prime unlimited fast delivery; added and expanded fast grocery delivery; and added more premium digital entertainment, including TV shows and movies on Prime Video, music on Amazon Music Prime, games on Prime Gaming and books on Prime Reading. Prime Video, in particular, has increased the number of Amazon Original series and films and added access to streaming the French Open tournament."

Even with the price rise, it's likely many consumers won't drop Prime due to its delivery service, but also its movies and series content. The next big Prime movie is The Lord of The Rings: The Rings of Power, which debuts on September 2. The price rise could spell bad news for other streaming services like Netflix as consumers trim subscriptions.    

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