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Amazon's database service enters public testing

SimpleDB moves into broader testing in the Amazon Web Services suite--and gets a price cut and free basic usage.

SimpleDB, one of Amazon.com's suite of online services that people can use to build Web sites or other computing operations, is out of private beta testing.

The service lets programmers store database records at Amazon and extract specific data from them. Along with the shift to public beta testing, Amazon cut the price for storing data from $1.50 to 25 cents per gigabyte per month.

SimpleDB, introduced nearly a year ago, is a newer arrival into the Amazon Web Services suite. Other services let customers process data, store raw data, distribute content, and store messages sent among different computers.

The company also announced basic level of use is free for at least six months--the first time the company has done so with one of its Web services. After various thresholds are met in data transfer and computer processing, customers must pay according to usage.

"We've made the business decision to go with SimpleDB even simpler than it was before. You can now get started for free. For at least the next six months, you can consume up to 500MB of storage, and you can use up to 25 machine-hours each month. You can transfer 1GB of data in, and another 1GB out," said AWS evangelist Jeff Barr in a blog posting Monday.

Among those using SimpleDB are Pluribo, Issuu, and MyMiniLife.com, Amazon said.

To make SimpleDB easier to use, Amazon said it plans to release a new interface similar to the SQL (Structured Query Language) widely used in databases today. It also plans a mechanism to let people more easily upload multiple items.