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Azure is the offering of cloud based computing services from Microsoft. It is similar to Amazon’s Web Services or the services of Saleforce.com. Pricing and service plans were announced last month, and the actual services are going to be available by November 2009. The services will be available first in the US, Europe, and Asia and then cover other continents/countries thereafter. This announcement on MSDN blogs detailed the formal announcement as well as the pricing structure.
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Let’s look at what’s on offer first so that the pricing plans would make more sense as we discuss it thereafter. The announcement about Azure came in this year’s Professional Developers’ conference. Azure services will support cloud based applications partially or fully and provides the support necessary to develop and test such applications. The cloud resources are Microsoft’s data centers. The way these services are structured a global foundation service encapsulates the data center server hardware. An operating system sits on this hardware abstraction layer and manages Windows server 2008 based machines. The operating system provides a development environment based on a file system/storage, a connection fabric management manages modeling, deployment and provisioning. Then come some services which developers may use or not. These services include Windows Live services, SQL server data services, dot Net, SharePoint and dynamics CRM services. On-line services come on top of this Azure infrastructure. Many MS applications will move to on-line model and user applications also can reside here. Read a very structured explanation here.
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Pricing and SLA details
Microsoft announced that the product will be available commercially after the Partner conference 2009 due in Nov 2009. Meanwhile you can get a feel of the product in the community technology preview or the CTP program Microsoft is conducting now. Windows Azure, SQL Azure, and .NET Services are the services that are going to be available commercially. Initially it’ll be available in the U.S., Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K. Local-currency pricing will be available at that time. By March next year these will extend to Brazil, Chile, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Israel, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Poland, Puerto Rico, Romania, Singapore, and Taiwan, with other countries to follow thereafter.
Windows Azure: Computing services under this group will be available for $0.12 per hour rate while storage will cost you $0.15 per GB per month. Storage transactions will cost you 1 cent per 10, 000 transactions.
SQL Azure: Will cost you $9.99 for up to 1 GB relational database in the web edition and up to 10 GB RDBMS (“Relational database management system") for $99.99 for business.
.NET Services: Message are going to cost 15 cents per 100, 000 message operations. These will include service bus messages and access control tokens.
Bandwidth charges across these services are going to be 10 cents in and 15 cents out per GB transfers.
Storage will be calculated on the basis of a daily average of storage used over a monthly period. Transactions such as add, update, read, and delete of storage data is charged at the rates given above. Cumulative bandwidth use over a 30 days period is charged.
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Service Guaranty and Discounts
Service level guaranties are going to be provided as cloud/data center availability horror stories abound, and thus such discounts will increase customer confidence. For instance Internet facing roles will have external connectivity at least 99.95% of the time. Individual role instance will be monitored every two minutes, and if the process is not running, corrective actions will be initiated. For storage, the guaranties cover storage access to the Internet gateway and that correct requests for storage transactions will be completed 99.9% of the time. Microsoft will provide a ten percent credit in case compute connectivity falls below 99.95%, and ten percent if role-instance uptime or storage goes below 99.9 percent uptime. MS promised to provide a 25% credit if availability of any of the services goes below 99%.