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back to article Microsoft: FINE! We'll match Amazon - by HIKING cloud prices

What's the difference between Windows Azure and Amazon Web Services? Very little – or so says Microsoft, which has made a new commitment to match the web bazaar's pricing for basic cloud services. The price-matching announcement was made by Microsoft on Tuesday, alongside news that Redmond thinks its infrastructure-as-a-service …

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New ad

Soft Nigella voice over:

This isn't just any commodity computing, it's microsoft premium commodity computing.

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Re: New ad

...but does it wear velvet pants?

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Linux

Re: New ad

Exclusive! The new microsoft Smartwatch For those all-important times when Azure doesn't even know what fucking day it is.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: New ad

Hah hah, I work for MS and even I laughed at that :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Ready...?

AWS and MS both had downtime this year. I've got to ask, are Cloud migrating corps preparing contingency plans for when there's downtime...? Or are they just seeing pretty numbers in spreadsheets? ... And don't get me started on privacy, law enforcement or the patriot act issues... No more than Facebook / Google privacy, we are sleep walking to a world of unknowns... Still no one ever got fired for buying IBM! I wonder if someone will invent a similar euphemism for the Cloud after the horse-has-bolted!

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Windows

Obscure, vague and I wonder; more expensive?

When I check out both Amazon and Azure I always get confused (sort of) when checking their price model. In some way I can agree that it looks fair, after all; you only pay for what you're using and its cut down to fair amounts (pay per GB based on maximum amount (first 1TB, Next 49TB, etc.) or when it comes to instances you pay per hour based on the instance (due to the article I'm focussing on Azure here, but the same goes for Amazon obviously).

Problem is that its very hard to keep track of it all so in a way you're depending on their way of measurement. I had this with my previous hosting provider; one month the bills were normal, then all of a sudden they billed me with for extra traffic while my stats told me otherwise. After 2 months I wrote them an e-mail about it and what do you know? Obviously the error was with me, according to them, but in the mean time I got normal bills again 4 months straight. Yeah, right....

I think that in many cases you'll be better of using a 'regular' hosting provider (if available of course) than these cloud based services. First they sell the name "cloud" while in fact its not as cloudy (redundant) as it should / could be (as we've seen in the not too recent past) and in the longer run I get the feeling you'll end up paying more in comparison.

Here in Holland you can get a 4 Core Xeon, 8GB memory, 300GB storage, 10TB traffic/month, 1 - 3 IPv4 addresses, IPv6 addresses, SMS monitoring and 1 snapshot for approx. E 50,- / month. When using a free OS (Linux, BSD) then there are no extra charges, for Windows you'll have to cover licensing too (approx. E 7,50 / month).

Azure virtual machine? 1 core with 1.75 GB memory starts at approx. E 49,90 / month (E 0,0671 / hour).

Amazon? Well, that shows another issue; the trouble you need to undertake before you finally get a good overview of solid prices. So I'm finally at the EC2 pricing page (link to Amazon): Standard on-demand instance, "Medium" : $0.120 / hour. Say one month: $89,28 (24hrs / 31 days), or E 68,-.

So; what's "Medium" ?

For that you need to go to another page; the EC2 instance types overview (link to amazon) where you'll learn that "Medium" is actually: 3.75Gb memory, 1 virtual core with 2 computing units, 410Gb instance storage, moderate performance (?).

Moderate performance?

You don't get rough numbers but at the end of the page its briefly explained yet still vague: "For many applications, low or moderate I/O performance is more than enough. However, for those applications requiring greater or more consistent I/O performance, you may want to consider instances with high I/O performance.".

And then we're told into how cool high performance is ("High I/O instances can deliver in excess of 100,000 random read IOPS and as many as 80,000 random write IOPS for high performance NoSQL ") but what about moderate and low ? Well, I guess those aren't interesting enough to share the details.

I also strongly get the feeling that both Amazon and Microsoft doesn't really expect (hope?) people to dive in so deeply but instead solely focus themselves on virtual low prices instead.

But then again... Looking back at my regular hosting example above; E 57,50 / month for a Windows server one can also state that I'm paying E 0,0772 per hour. I pay "much more" than Azure (E 0,0671 / hour) but also get more in return.

Sure; I can't terminate per hour / day but only on a per month basis. Thing is; how often do you need to terminate your servers on a per hour basis? When your money is running out perhaps? But like; wasn't that something you couldn't have seen coming ?

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Re: Obscure, vague and I wonder; more expensive?

The thing is though that you shouldn't think of AWS or Azure instances like traditional servers buut as building blocks. It's a different tool for a different job.

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Re: Obscure, vague and I wonder; more expensive?

> Here in Holland you can get a 4 Core Xeon, 8GB memory, 300GB storage, 10TB traffic/month, 1 - 3 IPv4 addresses, IPv6 addresses, SMS monitoring and 1 snapshot for approx. E 50,- / month

That's absurdly cheap compared to what we get in blighty (that I've been able to find anyway). Rackspace will screw you through the nose (can't remember but something like £500 for a similar spec, maybe a bit less) and I recently looked at buying a server and dumping it in a colo facility, got quoted at about £180 - £225 per month depending on how I long I sign up for (and that was for 1/4 of a rack!)

Amazon's disk stuff is very slow, so I've heard from a reliable source, but at least it's licensing is moderately straightforward when I looked over it. MS's licensing? If it's like any of their other big iron licenses such as sql server, well fools rush in... You know it ain't going to be pretty.

Now it's a race to the bottom on pricing, other people's dial-a-cpu is looking increasingly dubious.

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Re: Obscure, vague and I wonder; more expensive?

I got co-location for 80 quid a month for a half rack, enough electricity to run my servers and once or twice a year I had to pay a little extra to cover extra network traffic.

I built the servers for 600 quid a go and I change them every four years. I've never had any downtime since I start ten years ago..

What I like is that everything is under my control, the prices are good and the performance is very good. I have used AWS to knock up a prototype a few times but generally it's just as easy to create a temporary VM on my own hardware.

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Re: Obscure, vague and I wonder; more expensive?

Triffic! And your colo company is called ... ?

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Re: Obscure, vague and I wonder; more expensive?

You can buy two kinds of "disks" at AWS: a cheaper one - with no guarantees of IOPs - and a more expensive one - with a base level of IOPs.

If they honor the IOPs I can't say, but the concept exists.

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Anonymous Coward

So does MS hosting company not get a discount on Windows licenses enabling them to always be cheaper than anyone for Windows VM's?

I always find it amusing that marketing thinks flashy words is key to market penetration when in reality if they had Windows VM's medium for $0.06/hr no one would go anywhere else.

But then there is the monopoly law suit to follow and proof that MS will only ever be an alternative player to avoid killing the other arm of the business.

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"I also strongly get the feeling that both Amazon and Microsoft doesn't really expect (hope?) people to dive in so deeply but instead solely focus themselves on virtual low prices instead."

Also, they don't specify the specs because they in fact are not specific. Now that they've been at this for a few years, the spec on a brand new machine on the rack is pretty different from the ones they bought 2 years ago. But, my understanding is those 2 year old machines are also still on the rack. I read an article about someone finding pretty high performance differences between one Amazon instance and the next (on the order of some running at 50% of the performance of other supposedly equivalent instances.) The average seemed to work out (i.e. it wasn't like you'd order 10 machines, and end up with them physically all running on the older models.) They seem to just assume you'll "burst your cloud" or whatever and order more VMs without looking too specifically at the performance of your existing VMs.

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Azure VM Preview vs GA Pricing

The article implies that Microsoft tried to lure customers with low pricing during the VM preview period. However, Microsoft made it very clear from the start of the public preview period last June, that prices would go up. Or rather, since Azure VMs were in preview (or beta), and got no support, nor an SLA, they were offering them at a discount price.

If you would have viewed the Azure Pricing details page prior to the launch announcement this week, you would have seen that Azure VM pricing for GA was posted, and at a rate of $0.115/hr for a small instance. That rate was the same as the Cloud Service offering, which was already a released and supported product.

So while technically true that Microsoft will raise prices on Azure VMs on June 1st, it should have come to a surprise to anyone. You can still get discounted pricing until June 1st, but with the added benefit of support and an SLA. Although I would not be surprised to see another article on this site screaming about how Microsoft is raising prices again come June 1st ;)

Also, Microsoft does not offer reserve instances for VMs. The billing model is different from AWS. In Azure, you commit to spending a certain dollar amount, which can then be used for any Azure service (VM, Storage, Bandwidth, etc.). The discount amount depends on your commitment level, as well as whether or not you pay up front. So if you commit to spend at least $500 over 6 months, you can get a 20% discount off retail, with-out paying *anything* up front.

http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/pricing/purchase-options/

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