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Online photo sharing site SmugMug expects to save big bucks in storage hardware costs by shifting its data onto Amazon's recently launched S3 hosted storage service.

Amazon took the wraps off S3, which stands for Simple Storage Service, earlier this year. The offering is essentially a Web services interface to Amazon's own back-end storage and users are charged 15 cents for each Gbyte stored. (See Amazon Takes Aim at Hosted Storage.)

SmugMug, which is competing with the likes of Yahoo's Flickr, moved to S3 in the spring when it realized that its own storage farm was growing out of control. The firm currently has around 200 Tbytes of RAID-based direct attached storage on Apple Xserve devices, although this figure could leap to 500 Tbytes by the end of 2007, according to CEO Don MacAskill.

"With our current growth rate, that would be about $80,000 of hardware each month," he says, adding that, initially, he was on the lookout for cheaper hardware.

But the CEO was unable to find anything as cheap as S3. "Next year we will easily save more than $1 million and it could be more than that -- it just depends on our growth rate," he explains.

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