Where exactly does Windows Azure fit in the cloud computing model? Basically, it is a Platform as a Service (PaaS) layer, which has elements of both Software as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Thus, now it is possible for an organization to build applications on the cloud. There has been a lot of buzz around the Windows Azure platform since its availability in India from March 2010. This has created curiosity on Windows Azure's pricing, and its exact role in the whole enterprise scenario. Microsoft has lined up around 24 countries up for its launch by end April 2010, which adds to the queries surrounding Windows Azure pricing models.
As in any cloud platform, Windows Azure's pricing is also based on bandwidth usage, storage and computing requirements. Microsoft's Windows Azure platform can be used in two scenarios. First is the case where an organization chooses to migrate an entire application on to the Windows Azure platform. In the second application area, the business keeps half the application on-premise, and extends the other part on Windows Azure. In this scenario, Windows Azure's pricing remains the same.
Latency is an important issue that is top of mind when putting applications on the cloud. According to Moorthy Uppaluri, the general manager of developer and platform evangelism for Microsoft India, there will be no latency issue as such for users of Windows Azure. "Even if there is latency, it will be in milliseconds."
Microsoft has been blamed time and again for its complicated licensing models. Uppaluri promises that it's different this time. Users have to select a certain slot, determine the required computing, needed compute hours, and accordingly pay as per the equivalent Windows Azure pricing model. "There won't be any repercussions if an organization chooses to discontinue the service or migrate its applications to another vendor. There is no vendor lock-in at all," says Uppaluri. Also, applications built on any other platform can be hosted on Azure.
Speaking of Windows Azure's pricing models, there is no difference between pricing for India and its global counterparts. Basically, there are two types of Windows Azure pricing models to choose from, when purchasing a Windows Azure platform subscription. Microsoft's first Windows Azure pricing model is known as Consumption offers, which is a pay per use model. Under consumption offers, there are three types of offerings.
The second type is a subscription-based Windows Azure pricing model, which requires a six month commitment of monthly base fees from users. Any usage in excess of this amount is charged at standard consumption rates.
Windows Azure's subscription pricing model can be classified into two types:
Development Accelerator Core: This Windows Azure pricing model provides compute hours, storage, data transfers, access control transactions, and service bus connections at discounted monthly price for a six month term.
Development Accelerator Extended: Includes Development Accelerator Core plus SQL Azure at a discounted monthly price for a six month term. This targets developers who include SQL Azure in their solutions.
Irrespective of the specific subscription model, there's a useful thumb rule to calculate the basic Windows Azure pricing figure applicable for your requirement. This calculation model depends on your usage of the following factors.
• Compute = $0.12 / hour
• Storage = $0.15 / GB stored / month
• Storage transactions = $0.01 / 10K
• Data transfers = $0.10 in / $0.15 out / GB - ($0.30 in / $0.45 out / GB in Asia)