MSDN has recently seen some significant changes with regards to Azure benefits that were unveiled over the course of the recent Build and Tech Ed conferences. These changes incorporate a level of Azure benefits into all levels of MSDN allowing friction and cost free use of Azure for development and testing scenarios.
There are many potential scenarios Azure can support your development/testing efforts with Azure such as:
- Friction free creation of virtual machine based development/test environments using Windows Server, IIS, SQL as well as servers such as SharePoint or BizTalk.
- Creation of large scale environments to be used for scalability/load test scenarios.
- Provide instances of Visual Studio workstations running in the cloud.
- Provide a sandbox environment for QA/UAT testing.
- Provide instances of virtual machines for the use of training / evaluation of new servers and tools.
These scenarios represent just a small set of example uses where customers are supporting their development and test efforts using Azure, however how do the recent MSDN benefit changes help MSDN subscribers?
For me one of the key announcements from the world of MSDN in these conferences was not so much a technical one, but actually one of a licencing nature. Until these announcements were unveiled, MSDN software was not permitted to be installed and run on a hosted environment (Azure included). This has all changed and now MSDN users can now install MSDN servers and Visual Studio software into Azure. Details of the allowed server software can be seen here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2721672.
In addition to this licencing change were some further announcements that make it extremely cost effective and friction free for MSDN subscribers to complete dev/test scenarios using Azure. Some key benefits for dev/test uses are below:
- MSDN benefits have been set for a monetary amount of Azure credits to be included for every subscriber every month. The first month you will receive £130 of credit on your account, thereafter this amount is this is set according to your subscription level as follows:
- Ultimate Subscribers - £100 / month ($150)
- Premium Subscribers - £65 / month ($100)
- Professional Subscribers - £35 / month ($50)
- Test Professional Subscribers - £35 / month ($50)
- MSDN Platforms Subscribers - £65 / month ($100)
- MSDN subscribers will no longer have to provide a credit card number on sign-up. Which is great if you don’t want to provide your personal credit card number, or get permission for usage of a company credit card. As long as you sign up to Azure using the same Microsoft account as your MSDN subscription we can correlate this in our back-end and you’ll be up and running.
- Azure charges have moved to a per minute charging model, rather than a per hour model this is great news for everyone, but particularly suits dev/test environments where scenarios mean parts of an hours usage may be more commonplace.
- Azure no longer charges compute costs for virtual machines whilst they are turned off. This means that subscribers shutting down resources when they are not require will get increased value from their account when they are really using resources.
- MSDN subscribers receive a 33% discount on Windows Virtual Machines, and 25% discounts on Cloud Services, HDInsight, and Reserved Websites. That can be as little as less than 4p/hour for a small instance VM. See these details (Visual Studio Professional, Premium or Ultimate with MSDN) for the hourly rates for services.
- Should your account run out of credit then services will stop, however if you have further dev/test resource requirement then you can enter a credit card on account and continue to get dev/test resources provisioned at the same low MSDN rates. When you are ready to go to production then production loads must be moved to a regular (non-MSDN) Azure subscription.
I’ve always been a huge fan of the MSDN Azure benefits, but I really hope these announcements will provide a friction free way for dev/test teams to accelerate time to market, increase quality and reduce costs.
Getting started with Azure using MSDN benefits will warrant a separate follow-up post, however if you’re raring to get going then get signed up before September 30th 2013 and not only will you be eligible for all these benefits, you’ll also be entered in a prize draw to win an Aston Martin. Sign up here (http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/campaigns/car/) and you’ll be up and running within minutes.