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Microsoft Azure goes online: priced to compete with Amazon EC2

Microsoft has announced pricing of Azure, its cloud computing service, which be made available in Europe, Singapore and the US from November.

Microsoft has developed the suite of cloud-based services in an attempt to compete with Amazon EC2 and Google.

Microsoft claims it will take care of the hardware, operating system, patching and infrastructure, leaving users free to build cloud-based applications. It will offer Windows Azure, SQL Azure, which provides the SQL Server database in the cloud, plus .net Azure for developing cloud-based applications using the .net programming framework.

Mark Taylor, senior director at Microsoft, said, "Cloud gives users a high-level service, with a pay-as-you-go model."

Azure allows users to work both inside cloud and internal IT, he said.

An early version of the Azure service is being made available through Microsoft's Community Technology Preview programme. A commercial service is expected in November to tie in with the start of the company's annual Professional Developers Conference. Microsoft is expected to bring online more datacentres during 2010.

Users will be able to buy Azure through a pay-per-use service. Azure will also be available through a subscription licensing model, which it claimed will offer lower costs. Large businesses will be able to buy Azure through enterprise volume licensing agreements.

Prices of the pay-per-use service start at $0.12 per service hour for Windows Azure. Microsoft said users pay $0.15 per Gbyte/month for storage and $0.01 per 10,000 transactions.

A 1Gbyte SQL database is charged at $9.99 per month. A 10Gbyte SQL database costs $99.98 per month. Microsoft will charge $0,15 per 100,000 transactions for .net Azure services.

Microsoft also promises to offer a service level agreement for Azure. If the service drops below 99.95% availability it will give users a 10% credit. If it drops below 99%, users get a 25% credit.

As with the Windows platform, code written in .net can be migrated to the Azure cloud, according to Microsoft.

Taylor said, ".net is the core of our strategy. Targeting .net as a platform is a safe bet going forward."

Users will be able to choose which region hosts their data and applications. All support will be offered in English.


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