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.NET Pricing in the Cloud

The meter will start running for Windows Azure in November. Microsoft outlined the long-anticipated pricing model for its cloud computing platform at its Worldwide Partners Conference (WPC) in New Orleans today.

The Azure business model primarily consists of pay-per-usage or subscription-based pricing with a myriad of service-level agreements (SLAs). It offers several options -- the consumption-based pricing is similar to that of Amazon EC2 -- and a few surprises such as charging for "message operations." End-to-end service pricing, outside of the subscription model, appears hard to forecast.

MSDN Premium subscribers will get access to free resources to develop and test apps for a promotional period of six months after the commercialization of Azure. When your Azure app becomes available as a commercial service, you'll have to start paying service charges.

"We are reiterating that we are on track for commercial availability at Professional Developers Conference '09, which is in November of this year," said Prashant Ketkar, Azure's director of product marketing. "So the product will become generally available [and] we essentially start billing our customers and partners for usage of the platform and the service."

The consumption-based or pay-as-you-go model is based on several meters: compute time per hour, storage in gigabytes, bandwidth and message operations defined as service bus messages, and access control tokens.

Windows Azure:

      • Compute:  $0.12/hour
      • Storage: $0.15/GB stored
      • Storage Transactions: $0.01/10K
      • Bandwidth: $0.10 in/$0.15 out/GB

SQL Azure:

      • Web Edition: Up to 1GB relational database, $9.99
      • Business Edition: Up to 10GB relational database, $99.99
      • Bandwidth: $0.10 in/$0.15 out/GB

.NET Services:

      • Messages: $0.15/100K message operations, including service bus messages and access control tokens
      • Bandwidth: $0.10 in/$0.15 out/GB 

Learn more about the pricing and licensing here.

For developers and ISVs, the end-to-end scenario is more important than the per-unit pricing, Ketkar acknowledged. The subscription-based pricing lets you prepay for a certain capacity over a period of time. It's designed to help those in a fixed contracting-type business who need to bill customers for services and predict business outcomes, such as anticipated margins.

SLAs will be available upon commercialization of Azure for compute instance, storage, database-as-a-service, speed of authentication for applications, services and users. An SLA also exists for the automated service functionality. Read more about the SLAs here.

Microsoft partners that are part of the Microsoft Partner Network get a 5 percent discount on all Azure pricing.  

The pricing announcements came in conjunction with some rebranding: The Azure Services Platform is now called the Windows Azure Platform. It consists of Windows Azure (compute, storage, automated service functionality, developer environment), SQL Azure (formerly SQL Services or SQL Data Services) and .NET Services, which includes the Internet service bus and access control. Workflow Services, formerly part of .NET Services, was dropped in the latest CTP and is getting rebuilt on the .NET 4 workflow engine based on developer feedback, according to Microsoft. The Windows Azure Platform (outside of the Workflow Services) is on target for commercialization in November, Ketkar said.

Are the Azure pricing and business models the linchpin for Azure development or do you need more from Microsoft? Express your thoughts below or contact me directly at [email protected].

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 07/14/2009

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