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Microsoft Slashes Windows Azure Pricing To Match Amazon

In an effort to match prices set by Amazon Web Services, Microsoft said last week it will lower the cost of Windows Azure storage.

The price cuts will become effective on March 13 and affect block blob storage and disk/page blob storage pricing, according to Microsoft's announcement. The move comes after Amazon's announcement earlier this month that its S3 and Elastic Block Storage Service will get price reductions starting on Feb. 1.

Microsoft claimed that it was reducing its prices 20% to match Amazon's lowest prices in the U.S. East region. Pricing for locally redundant disks/page blob storage will be reduced by "up to 28%," Microsoft claimed, with Azure Storage transaction pricing lowed by 50 percent. These price cuts will be in effect worldwide in March.

Microsoft stated its intention back in April that it planned to match Amazon's prices at the "compute, storage and bandwidth" levels. Since that time, Microsoft has announced a pricing cut for its Windows Azure virtual machine memory-intensive support by up to 22 percent, which took effect in November. Microsoft has made many other cuts to its Windows Azure pricing, as well, in the recent past.

Pricing claims are difficult to assess when running cloud computing instances. Microsoft's "Windows Azure pricing at-a-glance" page claims that the company's pricing is "simple and transparent." However, comparing cloud-computing resources offered by different service providers requires tracking multiple cost factors, and those cost factors typically get described differently, depending on the service provider.

One group that made an attempt to compare cloud service provider performance and cost benefits is Cloud Spectator, a Boston-based analyst and consulting firm. Cloud Spectator conducted a study in May that tested performance and cost factors associated with running workloads on infrastructures offered by Amazon EC2, Rackspace OpenStack Cloud, HP Cloud, SoftLayer CloudLayer Compute and Windows Azure.

Cloud Spectator's study found that Windows Azure and Amazon EC2 tied in terms of cost, but Windows Azure had better performance stats. Not surprisingly, Microsoft's announcement pointed to that study. However, Windows Azure also has received other plaudits of late. For instance, Nasuni, a Natick, Mass.-based storage infrastructure-as-a-service vendor, published an assessment of cloud storage vendors late last year that put Windows Azure at the top in terms of blob storage.

However, ease of use went to Amazon, according to this Redmond public cloud test article. The article presents a personal IT pro account of using various cloud storage services.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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