Nova offers free regions for full year

New Voice — the company that brought us $5.95 regions on OSGrid and its own Nova grid — just dropped the starting price for regions even lower. To zero.

That’s right.

These are full regions. On the Nova grid, which runs the Aurora-Sim version of OpenSim, they can hold 80,000 prims. Running standard OpenSim, they can hold up to 45,000 prims.

Enrico Ranucci

Recommended capacity for these regions is ten avatars, Enrico Ranucci, head of New Voice, d.i., told Hypergrid Business.  “We did tests with up to 300 bots,  but you know — bots are not real avatars.”

The regions are located on Nova by default, but you can ask politely for other locations, such as OSGrid or standalones. They can even be configured as megaregions.

How can they afford to do it?

They can’t. But Amazon can.

That’s right — Amazon gives away a free year of computing power to anyone who asks for it, as long as they’re new to using Amazon’s cloud computing services.

Nova is piggy-backing on the Amazon deal. They do all the paper work and administrative stuff and get OpenSim configured and running. You get the region.

So if you’ve ever used the Amazon EC2 cloud before, or plan to use their free tier for your own projects in the future, this offer isn’t for you. If you’ve never heard of the Amazon EC2 cloud, then step right up.

And if you need more avatar capacity, you can pay for an upgrade. Since the regions are running in the cloud, they can scale up easily — you can even increase capacity for a short time, such as for a special event.

Avatar from my private grid on Nova's Pandora region.

“A complete pricing list will be available as soon as possible on our new Website,” Ranucci said. He added that it will be roughly in line with Kitely pricing, which also uses Amazon to run its regions.

Kitely plans to charge 20 cents per user per hour, US, once billing is implemented early next year.

These regions are always-on regions, indistinguishable from any other region on OpenSim grids. In fact, there are several test regions up now on the Nova grid, Ranucci said, for people to visit.

Kitely, by comparison, runs its regions only when people are using them — if they’re empty, they’re packed up and stored away until needed again.

What does New Voice get out of it? A lot of good will. I tried setting up a region on the Amazon cloud myself, and there’s a lot of hoops you have to jump through, certificates to install, instances to manage. I couldn’t get it working. If New Voice is doing it, they deserve all the good will they get. Plus, if you like their service, there’s always the chance that you want to rent more regions — at their regular prices — or pay them for extra capacity.

The free region comes with free OAR uploads and downloads, hypergrid access, free Vivox voice, and access to the HG Exchange money and marketplace if located on Nova grid — the OMC currency is currently only available on standard OpenSim regions.

Ranucci said that a registration page will be up in the next couple of days — we’ll post the link here. If you don’t want to wait, Ranucci can be contacted directly via live chat, Skype or in-world message.

And if you’ve tried out one of these regions, and would like to post a review, please do so on the Nova vendor page.

maria@hypergridbusiness.com'

Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China.

  • Hi Maria,

    I think it is worth pointing out that Amazon’s free offer is for a Linux Micro Instance (shared core, 613 MB of memory, Low I/O Performance) which is less than the OpenSim rule-of-thumb recommended 1 core, 1 GB of memory per region. It is also significantly underpowered compared to the Large Instances (multicore, 7.5 GB of memory, High I/O Performance) that Kitely uses for running worlds (a high-concurrency world on Kitely can automatically get a dedicated Large Instance all for itself).

    We had tried using Small Instances in the past (single core, 1.7 GB of memory, Medium I/O Performance) and their performance was unreliable to the extent that we were forced to re-architecture our service to use the much more expensive Large Instances instead. Considering Amazon states that network performance for the Micro Instances is even lower than that of Small Instances, the free Amazon instances are not likely to give consistent good performance – they might work okay occasionally for low load regions but will suffer from a lot of lag at unpredictable times.

  • I believe you need a credit card to sign up for Amazon’s free offer, and while the free usage limits are quite generous, if you exceed them you will be charged. This is still a very good deal, but worth keeping those things in mind.

    • Yeah correct, the free tiers though are calculated by time : 750 hours per month, means exactly 31,25 days per month. Pretty sure not to be charged (unless we are going to have 32 days/mo. 😉

      • That’s for CPU time. There are limits on other things like bandwidth, which as I said are quite generous, but it is possible to exceed them. You don’t have a guarantee that your credit card won’t be charged.

        • you are right kripken, we as a service are stopping instances at different levels of %usage (as described in the previous reply to Ilan)

          • Good, in that case I see no problem here. Nice service, good luck 🙂

      • Hi Enrico,

        Amazon’s free Micro Instance offer includes just 15 GB of bandwidth per month and 1 million I/Os for the EBS storage. Worlds that include a lot of asset data can surpass those limits way before the month is over if the region sees even a moderate number of visitors. For example, the popular OAR files generously provided by Linda Kellie can be quite big. The Linda Kellie Designs OAR file includes more than 400MB of asset data.

        • Hello Ilan, nice to meet you 🙂 We did use Linda Kellie oars Winter, Mountain Retreat, Business District and the huge Urban City (almost 800mb) from 1 december to 31 december and this is the Usage report from Nova grid (those oars are still there as amazon demos) :
          $0.00 per Micro Instance (t1.micro) instance-hour (or partial hour) under monthly free tier748 Hrs0.00$0.00 per GB-month of provisioned storage under monthly free tier1.758 GB-Mo0.00$0.00 per 1 million I/O requests under monthly free tier69,831 IOs0.00$0.000 per GB – data transfer out under the monthly global free tier0.212 GB0.00  $0.000 per GB – data transfer in per month3.752 GB0.00
          And those are 4 regions ! But yeah guys, i do see your point, that’s why we added alerts at 50% of any consumpted resources and second level alert at 85% of consumpted resources (any) using AWS AMI Api, giving the chance for our friends to select if they want still continue with the monthly usage and upgrade their tiers or hold on their region by shutting down the free instance. If any answer from customer/friend will arrive, the application will automatically shutdown the instance at 90% of consumpted resources (any). Hopefully that will help to keep trace of it 😉

          • Hi Enrico, the pleasure is mutual 🙂

            I think it is wise to have set those limits to help prevent people from being charged for what they believe is a free service. I think you should probably be very clear about those limits in your signup page so people won’t get angry with you if they encounter them.

            How many real avatars (not bots that don’t request assets) did you have inworld during that month? How long were their visits on average? (the low outgoing bandwidth usage would seem to indicate that not many and not for long)

          • yeah correct, a complete and detailed limits alerts is going to be published not only in the sign up page but even in the f.a.q. keeping them in the terms of services.
            More specifically these are the alerts (still as free monitoring included in AWS) > http://aws.amazon.com/cloudwatch/

            Not bad eh ? 🙂

          • Yes, it’s very important for people to know what they are getting when they sign up for your free plan and it should definitely be in your terms of service as well 🙂

            No one wants to be surprised by getting an unexpected bill so it’s good that you provide them with access to Amazon’s monitoring tools. This should enable your users to track their sims’ many resource usage parameters.

          • from 1 december to 31 december !! ….. wow…
             good work and have fun.

  • Hi Enrico,

    I think the caveat about it being for low concurrency is very important. Are you sure the 613MB of memory on the Micro Instance (or the 512MB on your SuperNova 5 sims) is really enough for supporting the 45,000 prims you advertize for them? (especially when those prims make use of many different textures)

    I’m not too familiar with Aurora-Sim’s technical capabilities but those prim numbers sound high for OpenSim running with so little memory. As you know, OpenSim uses asset caching logic that is not really optimized for conserving memory and, as you mentioned, still has memory leaks that need to be worked around. How long do these sims stay stable when they are actually in use?

    • Hi Ilan, /me agreed : SuperNova5 or AWS Micro are really limited resources and sincerely i hadnt any OpenSim running on it. We have many of them running in Aurora-Sim instead (the great Sandbox Neovo in OSGrid and in Nova running on it) 
      For standard OpenSim we do suggest at least the SuperNova10 which (as you pointed) starts with 1gb.
      Aurora-Sim seems to have a better memory and cpu capabilities though and many of the Nova residential sims are runnin on it since some months now. 
      Restarts are performed daily there.

  • Good …

  • I wanted to look for myself and made an account with Nova on Saturday. Performance was near NAUGHT. I managed to log in but nothing was functioning as it should or normally does. I thought maybe the server is down and it will be fixed on monday at the latest. Tried again just now and the whole NOVA Website has VANISHED. It says

    Server Error in ‘/’ Application.

    The resource cannot be found.

    Description: HTTP 404. The resource you are looking
    for (or one of its dependencies) could have been removed, had its name
    changed, or is temporarily unavailable.  Please review the following URL
    and make sure that it is spelled correctly.

    Requested URL: /Default.aspx

    What good is THAT kind of service even for FREE???

    • Hello Atlanta, tx for the alert, it is an issue with DNS service, we already opened a support ticket to our ISP. Services will be back soon as possible.

      • I can’t imagine that without my “alert” you wouldn’t have realized that since 48 hours or so your whole world seems to have been gone into chaos. Or have I only shosen TWO unlucky monents?

  • Metta Flanagan

    It seems Nova, their website and Enrico have vanished into thin air…

    •  THAT was just what I was talking about!!!

      But Enrico violently contradicted me so I shut up!! ;-))

      I think there should be some kind of statemernt here shouldnt there??

      • Atlanta —

        I haven’t heard from Enrico in weeks, with no response over email, Skype, Facebook or any other contact I’ve got for him. 

        I haven’t heard from any customers who were notified ahead of time that the service was going down, either. 

        •  Wouldn’t it be a good idea that after having written about this service on Nova being offered you should comment about Nova vanishing into thin air aswell?

          • Atlanta — I will as soon as I can find out what’s going on. Did the company fold? Is he sick? On the run from international criminals chasing him because of a case of mistaken identity?