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Microsoft announces General Availability of Windows Azure, promises to match Amazon’s AWS pricing

Microsoft announces General Availability of Windows Azure, promises to match Amazon’s AWS pricing

In a move that could completely shake up the market, Microsoft today announced general availability its Windows Azure Infrastructure Services, along with a commitment  match  Amazon’s AWS service prices for commodity services such as compute, storage and bandwidth.  To begin with the same, Microsoft has reduced  GA prices on Virtual Machines and Cloud Services by 21-33% and promised  to match any price drop in future from Amazon Web Services. Earlier this month, Microsoft announced general availability of  Windows Azure Active Directory.

As part of  the  Infrastructure Services release, Microsoft has  added in new high memory VM instances up to 28GB  and 56 GB to run demand intensive workloads along with  new Microsoft validated instances to it’s  list including SQL Server, SharePoint, BizTalk Server, and Dynamics NAV. In addition, today’s IaaS release also includes some small VM enhancements like:

  • Increased default OS disk size: The default OS disk partition size has increased from  30GB to 127GB.
  • Ability to customize the Administrator username: As a good security practice, users can now  customize the login name of the administrator account when creating VM images.
  • Remote PowerShell Enabled By Default: Making it easier to automate setting up VMs without having to  login interactively to a newly deployed instance, Microsoft has enabled  remote PowerShell by default in all Windows Server OS images – including the SQL Server, BizTalk Server, and SharePoint images.
  • Durable Data Disk: Virtual Machines in Windows Azure can optionally attach and use data disks for storage (each disk can be up to 1 TB in size)
  • Built-in Load Balancer Support: Virtual Machines in Windows Azure can also optionally utilize a network load-balancer (LB) , thus enabling a user to distribute traffic sent to a single IP address/port to multiple VM machine instances.
Windows Azure Announces General Availability

Hourly on-demand rates for Windows Azure Virtual Machines.

The cloud should be an enabler for innovation, and an extension of your organization’s IT fabric, not just a fancier way to describe cheap infrastructure and application hosting.
– Bill Hilf, GM, Windows Azure product marketing.Bill Hilf, GM, Windows Azure product marketing.

“Customers don’t want to rip and replace their current infrastructure to benefit from the cloud; they want the strengths of their on-premises investments and the flexibility of the cloud. It’s not only about Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS), it’s about Infrastructure Services and Platform Services and hybrid scenarios,” said Mr. Bill Hilf, GM, Windows Azure product marketing.  “The cloud should be an enabler for innovation, and an extension of your organization’s IT fabric, not just a fancier way to describe cheap infrastructure and application hosting,” he added.

Microsoft has also enabled an  hourly billing model which gets rid of upfront costs to get started. This means that customers don’t have to pay for an upfront license of Microsoft’s server products; they can  instead pay an additional hourly rate above the standard OS rate for the hours they run the software. To push the new offering, Microsoft has also announced a free three month trial of Windows Azure.

Microsoft’s Windows Azure service is more likely to  appeal to  customers  who have existing infrastructure, existing applications, existing datacenters, and  want to take advantage of cloud technologies.

Whether Microsoft can compete with AWS across it’s the entire spectrum of cloud remains to be seen. However, the decision to match AWS’ pricing will sure make the cloud provider industry  focus on performance rather than simply competing on low prices to attract customers.

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