Windows Azure vs. Amazon cloud pricing

Day 2 keynote of WPC wasn’t as thrilling as the first one, but we got what we wanted: Windows Azure pricing. Plus a free few months, starting now. How’s that?

The most important things first: The prices are available in Windows Azure team blog. There are also a few words on the Service Level Agreement (in short: 99.95%).

The commercial release will happen in PDC 2009 this November. Until that, Azure will be free. If you want to try it, now is pretty much the time!

How does it compare to Amazon?

In the PDC 2008 launch, Microsoft promised Azure pricing would be “competitive” with “everything on market”. In practice that means Amazon, given that its EC2 service is by far the closest commercial analogy to what Azure as a hosting platform is.

Computing power: An Azure computing hour costs $0.12. Amazon offers the same thing at $0.125 on Windows; on Linux, you can get as low as $0.10. On the other hand, “Large” instances on Amazon cost up to $1.00 per hour on Windows, $0.80 on Linux. Azure doesn’t differentiate between the instance sizes, but of course provides the possibility to split the workload across worker/web roles. Cost-wise, a “large” Amazon instance roughly equals 8 Azure role instances, but at this point you can’t really compare those two.

Storage space: The Amazon alternative is their S3 service. It puts the price of one gig at $0.15 per month, discounting some for extreme data volumes. Azure is as competitive as they go: The same price.

Storage is also priced by transaction. Azure costs $0.01 per 10000 transactions; Amazon’s pricing is the same, although for pricing purposes, they count data writes as 10 transactions. This may or may not make a huge difference, depending on the nature of your application.

The newly re-branded SQL Azure relational database doesn’t have an Amazon equivalent, but SQL Azure costs $9.99 / month for a 1 GB database and $99.99 / month for a database up to 10 GB.

Data transfer: The Azure platforms puts the cost of a transferred gig at $0.10 for inbound data and $0.15 for outbound. The Amazon equivalent (on the EC2 page, scroll down) is $0.10 per GB. Transfer between services inside the same datacenter will not be charged on Amazon, but the Azure announcement is less clear on this one. I suppose we’ll get more info later on.

.NET Services: For Azure, Service Bus messages and Access Control tokens are priced at $0.15 per 100 000 items. That’s not comparable to anything Amazon does, but it does sound cheap.

So is it competitive?

I think it is. I wouldn’t have expected Microsoft to go much below Amazon’s prices anyway. Is it cheaper? No, not really – at least it doesn’t look that way. Would it have to be? Probably not, given that the developer ecosystem story for Microsoft beats Amazon’s equivalent hands down.

But what are the real prices then? Microsoft is promising to sell Azure through Volume Licensing as well, likely with considerable discounts. Also, while pay-as-you-go is the main pricing model, the keynote already promised quite a few flat-rate or semi-flat-rate offers coming up with the commercial launch.

Did I miss something? Will Amazon react and how? Thoughts?

July 14, 2009 · Jouni Heikniemi · 11 Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Cloud

11 Responses

  1. Ana Rodriguez - July 14, 2009

    Hi Jouni,

    Wow I didn’t know the prices! Thanks for the data and comparison with Amazon. I think we are taking a step forward to a new era of technology; companies should start moving to cloud computing and develop their applications towards it. The real deal is will they know the true value of cloud computing?

    Our company just developed a cloud-hosted application. You can take a look at it here: If you like it, you can help us vote for it at the new CloudApp() Contest: The app is listed at the end of the page, under the name of Omar Del Rio.


    Ana Rodriguez

  2. Jemm - July 15, 2009

    The pricing sounds good for me and I'm already thinking of many ways how to utilize those services. :)

    Some people in local MS-events rose a question about legal issues. Like could companies put data to other continents where local laws and policies don't apply etc. Maybe it is complicated for bigger companies in that respect.

  3. John Mullinax - July 15, 2009

    Nice analysis. One thing I would add is that for compute pricing, Amazon EC2 provides a machine instance to manage, while Windows Azure lets you just manage the *application* instance. This is fundamentally the difference between Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service.

    To elaborate, with EC2 you have to worry about load balancing, patching, and perhaps additional software licensing (depending on what you run in your machine instance). This can give you more flexibility, but it comes with a tangible cost – most of which is probably additional to your bill from Amazon.

    With Azure, you can really focus on your code because the infrastructure and VM level systems management is automatically handled for you – and already included in your price/SLA.

  4. Ram Bapu - July 15, 2009

    Thanks for posting the comparisions – We are currently moving into EC2 for and have already paid quite a good amount during moving over+ development and testing of our Apps.
    One difference I saw on Azure is (Not sure how MS would differentiate the development/testing from production) is their 'Compute hours will be charged only for when apps are deployed, not during development and testing.' This is something tempting for small/mid-size companies that would like to save as much until its placed on the counters.

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    Windows Azure advantage:
    Developers, developers, developers!

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  11. web Hosting - August 11, 2016

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