Microsoft retrofits its cloud so apps can live on servers and Azure

Windows Azure will remain free until February

One week after Microsoft's Steven Elop took Salesforce.com's Marc Benioff to task claiming the cloud is not reliable, Microsoft officially launched the almost-final version of its own cloud, Windows Azure. It has newly outfitted its cloud so that an app can live both on Azure and on a local server. Microsoft today announced new management features to Windows Azure that support such dual-location apps.

A free CTP of Azure will be available to all comers through December 31. A free trial will begin January 2010 and Microsoft will begin charging customers for its cloud as of February 1.

At the PDC show today, Microsoft announced Windows Server AppFabric Beta 1, a set of services intended to manage .Net applications that span both cloud and servers. It combines tools code-named “Dublin” and “Velocity” with .NET Services, which Microsoft has now dubbed the Windows Azure platform AppFabric Service Bus and AppFabric Access Control. Windows Server AppFabric Beta 1 is available for download today at: http://msdn.microsoft.com/appfabric. Microsoft expects to release several beta versions of the tool throughout 2010, and to finalize it next year.

When AppFabric goes live, you can hire it for these prices:

  • Messages = $0.15/100K message operations, including Service Bus messages and Access Control tokens
  • Bandwidth = $0.10 in / $0.15 out / GB

Microsoft also says that during Community Technology Preview (CTP), the following limits will be put on the freebie use of Windows Azure:

  • Total compute usage: 2000 VM hours
  • Cloud storage capacity: 50GB
  • Total storage bandwidth: 20GB/day

After Feb. 1, you can expect to be charged ...

Item

Windows Azure

Compute

12 cents per hour

Storage

15 cents per gigabyte/month

Storage transactions

1 cent per10K

Bandwidth

10cents in,15 out per GB

It is hard to compare these prices with Azure's main competitor, Amazon EC2 since Amazon uses "instances" as its baseline A mid-tier instance, which Amazon labels as "large" is 7.5 GB of memory, 4 EC2 Compute Units (2 virtual cores with 2 EC2 Compute Units each), 850 GB of instance storage, 64-bit platform. Using this on an hourly basis will cost. 48 cents per hour for a Windows Server cloud but Linux is cheaper -- that will set you back 34 cents an hour.

Amazon charges an additional 10 cents/GB for data input and a maximum of 17 cents per GB of data output (with decreasing rates on increasing volumes). Amazon has a host of other fees on a per usage basis, from data backup to load balancing.

Windows Azure will also feature hosted SQL Server (what else?). As of Feb. 1 prices will be ...

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

If you want mySQL Server as part of your fully hosted cloud app, that would mean Amazon. Expect to pay between 11 cents and about a buck per instance, except if you've got a gigantic database that needs 68 GB of memory and 8 virtual cores to process each instance. That'll set you back $3.10 per instance.

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