Microsoft announce “Azure” services platform at PDC – no hard pricing yet

Microsoft’s big Cloud announcement finally came out yesterday at PDC: the “Windows Azure” services platform:

“The Azure™ Services Platform (Azure) is an internet-scale cloud services platform hosted in Microsoft data centers, which provides an operating system and a set of developer services that can be used individually or together.

More info at What is the Azure Services Platform?

Also, take a look at the section on Pricing and Licensing: no hard pricing is available yet as this announcement is just for the CTP – planning to go into production in H2 2009.

Given the pricing competition from Amazon EC2 and other players on a spending spree like Rackspace this is going to get pretty darwinian pretty quickly. However, this is good for everybody (except perhaps Microsoft $hareholder$ who were expecting monopoly revenues forever!) – there are far fewer opportunities for vendor platform lock-in in the frictionless cloud: Microsoft can reinvent their revenue model around the stuff which delivers the most *real* value – which will be .NET from now on – but I don’t think we’ll be seeing >90% market share any time soon. 😉

“The Azure™ Services Platform business model is aligned around four basic principles. These are:

* Consumption-based model
* Pricing attractive with the market
* Market expansion opportunity for Microsoft partners
* Easy access through the Web, or through existing channels and programs

Consumption is based upon:

” * Compute time, measured in machine hours
* Bandwidth requirements (transmissions to and from the Azure data center), measured in GB
* Storage, measured in GB
* Transactions, measured as application requests such as Gets and Puts

If you dive a bit deeper into the FAQs, you can see the production schedule:

” * Availability Timeframe – H2 2009
o Acquire directly through the Microsoft Online Customer Portal
o Acquire though ISVs (independent software vendors): purchase an ISV application which utilizes the Azure Services Platform, and pay the ISV through their own licensing and pricing model”

Intergen’s Chris Auld is blogging the PDC – see his take on the Azure announcements here.


Amazon announcements: General Availability (99.95%) and Windows on EC2. Windows cost benchmarked at 25-40% over Linux to provision!

Amazon have done it – they have committed to “General Availability” (GA) with a service level agreement of 99.95% within a “Region”. If availability falls below this level, customers will receive service credits. Read more information at

In a simultaneous announcement Amazon have announced that Windows and SQL Server images are now available on EC2 – pricing for Amazon EC2 running Windows 2003 Server begins at $0.125 per compute hour (see below). Amazon are also supporting SQL Server Express and Standard editions on EC2. The only restriction is that all instances must be in the same availability zone – read details at:

Pricing comparisons are below – so now there’s a benchmark: Windows costs between 25-40% over Linux to provision!


Standard Instances Linux/UNIX Windows
Small (Default) $0.10 per hour $0.125 per hour
Large $0.40 per hour $0.50 per hour
Extra Large $0.80 per hour $1.00 per hour

High CPU Instances Linux/UNIX Windows
Medium $0.20 per hour $0.30 per hour
Extra Large $0.80 per hour $1.20 per hour

Microsoft Cloud Announcements

2 “Microsoft” “Cloud” press releases made it out simultaneously today.

First, Steve Ballmer pre-announced the launch of “Windows Cloud” operating system (which isn’t Midori):

Secondly Amazon announced EC2 with Windows:

Both press releases predictably make no mention of pricing and licensing models – Microsoft’s share price would tank if they did… 😉