Re: False economy
Disclaimer: MS employee
I've done a post on the hardware here
Performance on premise is exactly what you expect from an enterprise storage array, particularly for the use cases we are targeting. We work on the premise that the cold data is taken to the cloud where we geo replicate across two data centres (with three copies per data centre) which is more cost effective than buying additional disk shelves for an existing storage array (which you then have to duplicate for DR, buy extra per TB license for your backup software and more storage for your disk target for backup). At approx. 7c/GB per month for this storage (geo replicated) and the price only going down on this it is very hard to compete with this using traditional storage.
From a performance perspective within Azure we are no laggard. A recent article did some testing on this
From my perspective we want to encourage people to use and experience Windows Azure because we believe it is a great product with a massive amount of functionality. StorSimple gives people a low risk entry where they can address some of their most challenge data (file server data particularly) and not have to move whole apps or data centres into the cloud. They can then use the rest of the commitment for whatever else they want within azure - websites, IaaS, identity, HDinsights, mobile apps or even PaaS based solutions on any code base you want to use. This commitment is for 12 months and after that you can cut it back, grow it or discontinue it altogether. The device remains yours and it is an open system no matter what