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Microsoft makes Azure more palatable


Microsoft execs, including server and tools chief Bob Muglia, have long maintained that the Azure price model was sound and clear as a bell. This despite developers and other would-be Azure-ites moaning about its complexity and complaining that Azure was too pricey compared to Amazon Web Services.

Well, those developers weren’t crazy after all.  Yesterday at Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC), Microsoft announced new  Azure Extra Small Instances for five cents per hour. Now in beta, this bite-sized computing morsel doesn’t promise fast I/O and is limited to 20 gigabytes of storage per instance. The next smallest nugget of computing is the Azure Small Instance at 12 cents per hour for up to 225GB storage per instance. Clearly there was pressure for cheaper Azure.

In other potentially big news, Microsoft also previewed Virtual Machine (VM) role that promises to ease the move of legacy Windows apps to Azure. The PDC news was all glommed under the usual customer-feedback rationale

Muglia told CNet that while this will make it easier to run some Windows Server apps on Azure, not to assume that every app will carry over. And, apps not written for azure will not take full advantage of Azure.

This move blurs the line between Azure PaaS and Amazon Web Services’  which are lumped into the Infrastructure-as-a-Service camp. Andrew Brust, a long-time Windows developer and CTO of Tallan said last week he fully expected Azure to move more towards IaaS and AWS to move more to PaaS over time.

John Landry, former CTO of Lotus Development Corp., who went on to found startups working with the Microsoft stack, is impressed overall with Azure. A major advantage is that it targets the true-believer .NET, Windows development community and that is a very large group.

“I think [Microsoft] is directionally correct with Azure [but] they’ve got a built-in conflict –are they Infrastructure-as-a-service or Platform-as-a-Service and they can’t seem to figure it out. But the correct answer is they should be both.”

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