Windows Azure pricing pleasures: compute for 5 cents/hour

When I interviewed Doug Hauger on video and asked a few of the slightly tougher questions, he intimated there’d be a new price point for compute in Windows Azure. He said “wait for the PDC” – well, not only was the announcement made by Bob Muglia at the PDC on Thursday, but it’s already made its way on to the pricelist, although it’s not available today. If you want to be notified of the Beta, register your interest here.

The new “extra small” compute instance is priced at 5 cents/hour.

Here’s the information and here’s an extract of the official blurb:


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Compute Instance Sizes:

Developers have the ability to choose the size of VMs to run their application based on the applications resource requirements. Windows Azure compute instances come in five unique sizes to enable complex applications and workloads. We are introducing the Extra Small Windows Azure instance to make the process of development, testing and trial easier for enterprise developers. The Extra Small instance will also make Windows Azure more affordable for developers interested in running smaller applications on the platform.


Compute Instance Size CPU Memory Instance Storage I/O Performance

Cost per hour

Extra Small 1.0 GHz 768 MB 20 GB Low


Small 1.6 GHz 1.75 GB 225 GB Moderate


Medium 2 x 1.6 GHz 3.5 GB 490 GB High


Large 4 x 1.6 GHz 7 GB 1,000 GB High


Extra large 8 x 1.6 GHz 14 GB 2,040 GB High


Each Windows Azure compute instance represents a virtual server. Although many resources are dedicated to a particular instance, some resources associated to I/O performance, such as network bandwidth and disk subsystem, are shared among the compute instances on the same physical host. During periods when a shared resource is not fully utilized, you are able to utilize a higher share of that resource.

The different instance types will provide different minimum performance from the shared resources depending on their size. Compute instance sizes with a high I/O performance indicator as noted in the table above will have a larger allocation of the shared resources. Having a larger allocation of the shared resource will also result in more consistent I/O performance.

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This is interesting because in a 31 day month there are 744 hours. The minimum pricing a small business would have had to pay for compute, pre-PDC was 744 * $0.12 = $89.28. But with the new 5 cents pricing for the extra small instance, it’s only $37.20 – less than half the price. Of course you still have to pay for storage and bandwidth. My sense is that paying more for bandwidth is a good thing because it means lots of visitors to the application.

There are still offers available for free-compute resources too. There’s the Introductory Special which gives away 25 hours per month – great if you are teaching yourself Windows Azure. There’s also the MSDN offer giving away 750 hours per month if you are an MSDN Premium or MSDN Ultimate subscriber.


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