Microsoft Upgrades SQL Azure and Office 365
Microsoft tweaks several cloud-based offerings, lowering prices and upgrading storage and support.
Developers considering a move to the cloud will be cheered by news that Microsoft has cut SQL Azure prices, and added more storage options.
In addition, the company continues to tinker with Office 365, offering upgraded storage and support.
The 100 MB storage plan offers a new option for customers getting started on SQL Azure, while the new reduced pricing is aimed at providing discounts to customers with databases at around 5 GB or so that need to scale, according to a blog post by Steve Martin, general manager for Windows Azure business planning.
The new pricing apparently was offered earlier this week. The blog post produces a chart showing Microsoft's calculation of storage-cost savings as the size of a database grows when hosted on Windows Azure.
In December, Microsoft capped the database size cost at $499.95 for the maximum 150 GB of storage possible under the SQL Azure Business Edition. That max cost is now listed by Martin at $225.99. The cost reductions are shown at Microsoft's SQL Azure pricing overview page. The cost is $125.99 for 50 GB of storage, but Microsoft charges $1 for each additional GB of storage thereafter.
The lower prices follow earlier SQL Azure cost reductions made in June. Back then, Microsoft had cut some charges associated with data transfers.
SQL Azure pricing is actually far more complex than just calculating storage costs. Essentially, organizations using Windows Azure pay for the compute time, data storage and data access, plus the bandwidth of the data transferred in and out of the cloud. The various cloud computing phases 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. Microsoft offers an online pricing calculator to form a rough estimate of Windows Azure costs.
In other Microsoft cloud services news, Microsoft announced enhancements last month to so-called "kiosk worker" plans in its Office 365 offering. The two cloud offerings -- Office 365 and SQL Azure -- currently are deemed as unrelated platforms. SQL Azure is part of the Windows Azure platform-as-a-service cloud computing offering, whereas Office 365 represents multitenant hosting services from Microsoft or its partners that deliver Microsoft's software as services to organizations.
Kiosk workers are Microsoft's designation for employees who don't have a desk or who share a PC, such as retail workers. Microsoft offers an Exchange Online Kiosk Plan and an Office 365 Kiosk Plan as part of Office 365.
Both of those plans are getting added support for Exchange ActiveSync, a Microsoft technology that helps synchronize mobile devices with Microsoft's e-mail server. In addition, both plans will get their e-mail storage capacities doubled from 500 MB to 1 GB. The pricing for both plans with these enhancements will remain unchanged at $2 per user per month for the Exchange Online Kiosk Plan and $4 per user per month for the Office 365 Kiosk Plan.
In addition, Microsoft will offer a new "Exchange Online Archiving" add-on to those kiosk plans that will enable "legal hold and unlimited storage" on those accounts. The price for this add-on is an additional $3.50 per user per month on top of the kiosk plan charge.
Microsoft did not specify when those new kiosk plan enhancements will be available.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.