Microsoft’s Opening Package Offers for the Windows Azure Platform

Today is the official launch date for Windows Azure Platform and Microsoft is offering 4 packages:

  • $0 – Introductory Special – A (not very useful) level of free consumption until June 30 2010
  • $59.95 – Development Accelerator Core
  • $109.95 – Development Accelerator Extended
  • $Varies – Consumption – pay for what you use

Check out the official comparison table.

For a minute, I thought Microsoft was really serious about promoting this, but the Introductory Special is somewhat pointless – it’s more of a discount or minor test package.  It includes 25 computer hours which is just over one day of operation per month on one node – think of it as one free day on one node.  It does come with 1GB of SQL Azure, but that’s also only for 3 months :(.  There’s also 100,000 AppFabric messages and a measly 1/2 GB of data transfer in/out.  So, you can do some testing with this, although if you are an MSDN subscriber you have addition options.

Now the next two packages are better with both packages offering 750 hours of Windows Azure compute time which equates to 1 node for a month, e.g. a website.  The Extended plan includes a 10GB SQL Azure database, normally priced as $99.95 per month on its own.

The Consumption plan is apparently what you pay if you go over the included quantities.  With some other providers, the overage fees go down as one moves to higher pre-paid packages.

Microsoft can beat other providers when it comes to the SQL Azure offering.  Other providers, who have to license SQL Server to customers through Microsoft’s Service Provider License Agreement, may pay Microsoft over $200 a month for a SQL Standard processor license.  Microsoft is offering a 1GB SQL Server for $9.99 per month and $10GB for $99.99.

I need to do further analysis on provider price comparisons in the future.  I make solid use of GoGrid who consider themselves an infrastructure provider and Microsoft to be a platform provider, though they both offer cloud computing.  With GoGrid, I do all the server admin (while they provide cloud nodes, network, admin UI/API and other services) while Microsoft is aiming to cover lots of the redundancy infrastructure automatically.

In addition to these offers and the MSDN subscriber offer, there’s also a special rate version of the 3 paid plans for Microsoft Partner Network members – currently stated as being 5% off the regular rates (but not applying to data transfer or Windows Azure storage).  It’s not clear yet how all these offers/packages operate together if at all.  Do the MSDN subscriptions provided with Partner accounts each qualify?  According to the notes on the offer pages for migration a CTP account to, “Your CTP account(s) are automatically associated with the first offer you purchase with that Windows Live ID.”

I have not yet received any information on how to upgrade to a commercial account and the Billing link on the portal goes to the Microsoft Online Services portal which doesn’t show anything about Azure.  I can hear the Microsoft elves sweating right now along with the patter of tiny feet to refill the free soft drinks 🙂

P.S.  Hopefully the grammer elves will ‘shoot’ the ignorant Microsoft website elves using the phrase “a …savings” 😛

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Windows Azure Platform Goes Live Today

Today is the day for Azure to go live.

What this means (according to communicating to Community Technology Preview participants) is that Microsoft should start issuing instructions this week on how to move from CTP to a commercial account.

It’s also not clear yet, how the relationship will work yet (and there are some broken links from the Azure portal) between billing, portal account and login ID, but I imagine there needs to be Live IDs for the billing accounts and then permitted administrator Live IDs for the portal.

The Windows Azure Platform continues to be free until Feb 1 2010, during the first billing on-ramp phase.

If you are interested in giving Windows Azure a spin while it’s still free in January then you may want to try this Azure deployment guide with included sample application, successfully used by hundreds of people.

More posts soon on some of the insights of building a Silverlight application and hosting it on Windows Azure…