No Reservations: A First Look at Amazon's Reserved Instance Marketplace


Pradeep Ambati, David Irwin, and Prashant Shenoy, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Cloud users can significantly reduce their cost (by up to 60%) by reserving virtual machines (VMs) for long periods (1 or 3 years) rather than acquiring them on demand. Unfortunately, reserving VMs exposes users to \emph{demand risk} that can increase cost if their expected future demand does not materialize. Since accurately forecasting demand over long periods is challenging, users often limit their use of reserved VMs. To mitigate demand risk, Amazon operates a Reserved Instance Marketplace (RIM) where users may publicly list the remaining time on their VM reservations for sale at a price they set. The RIM enables users to limit demand risk by either selling VM reservations if their demand changes, or purchasing variable- and shorter-term VM reservations that better match their demand forecast horizon. Clearly, the RIM's potential to mitigate demand risk is a function of its price characteristics. However, to the best of our knowledge, historical RIM prices have neither been made publicly available nor analyzed. To address the problem, we have been monitoring and archiving RIM prices for 1.75 years across all 69 availability zones and 22 regions in Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). This paper provides a first look at this data and its implications for cost-effectively provisioning cloud infrastructure.

Open Access Media

USENIX is committed to Open Access to the research presented at our events. Papers and proceedings are freely available to everyone once the event begins. Any video, audio, and/or slides that are posted after the event are also free and open to everyone. Support USENIX and our commitment to Open Access.

@inproceedings {254132,
author = {Pradeep Ambati and David Irwin and Prashant Shenoy},
title = {No Reservations: A First Look at Amazon{\textquoteright}s Reserved Instance Marketplace},
booktitle = {12th USENIX Workshop on Hot Topics in Cloud Computing (HotCloud 20)},
year = {2020},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = jul,

Presentation Video