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Microsoft Cuts Cost of Using SQL in the Cloud

Latest cuts are seen as a response to reductions in Amazon cloud offerings.

Developers who want to use the cloud in their environments will find Microsoft's version cheaper now.

It's part of a series of cuts to entice potential customers to check out Windows Azure.

Microsoft announced a Windows Azure price decrease last week for its SQL Reporting Services, which is used for business intelligence-type applications.

The price decrease comes in association with a lower report increment. The SQL Reporting Service is now measured at increments of 30 reports at $0.16 per hour. The previous charge was measured at $0.88 per hour in increments of 200 reports. Microsoft claims that "the smaller report increment (from 200 to 30) will give customers better utilization and hence lower effective price points," according to a blog post.

That's a bit abstract and hard to follow, perhaps, but so is the entire pricing structure for Windows Azure. Organizations buying time on Windows Azure pay a monthly rate based on their use of various Windows Azure components. They pay for the compute time, data storage and data access, plus the bandwidth of the data transferred out of the cloud. Those various services get priced at specific rates, usually per GB. There's also a monthly fee rolled into the overall cost if an organization uses SQL Azure.

In December, Microsoft announced price reductions for Windows Azure Storage, claiming that costs could be reduced "by as much as 28%." The company offers geo-replication storage support, as well as lower cost locally redundant storage support as part of Windows Azure Storage. The geo-replication storage service is turned on by default. While that may sound good, Microsoft avoided using its own georedundant storage to address a two-day Windows Azure service disruption in late December because doing so would have lost some data for customers. The company indicated that it is working on engineering a faster response time for its georeplication service.

The price cuts are part of a series. Microsoft eliminated an inbound data transfer charge during peak hours back in June. In September, the company rolled out a plan to offer discounts based on spending tiers.

These price reductions appear to be responses to the competition, particularly Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) and Amazon Web Services (AWS). Amazon announced earlier this month that it had lowered data transfer prices between AWS regions by as much as 83 percent. In addition, Amazon decreased some EC2 on-demand prices by up to 13 percent.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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