Make it less expensive to run my very small service on Windows Azure.
At PDC 2010 Microsoft announced the Extra Small Instance, which will be priced at $0.05 per compute hour in order to make the process of development, testing and trial easier. This will make it affordable for developers interested in running smaller applications on the platform. A beta of this role will be available before the end of 2010.
Please let us know if this addresses your needs for a more cost effective Azure offering.
I agree... I was completely shocked to see my first bill from Microsoft. I was expecting £s not £££s.
Microsoft needs to understand that many developers want to learn about Azure by building our own "personal" web sites in it first. Once comfortable with the technology we can then consider recommending it for clients/customers "commercial" sites.
Reading the "introductory special" pricing plan I expected that the "25 hour FREE compute hours" would be adequate to host a simple 3-4 page website. But alas not... I was charged for 31x24 hours per month.
Microsoft... if you're listening... you're making a mistake here. I suspect that I am not going to be the only developer switching to GAE.
Mark Wade commented
I was recently shocked to get my first Azure bill of over $250 for playing around with 3 one-page test sites. In comparison, I've had a ServerBeach dedicated server for years, at $99/month flat rate. I can host as many sites as I want, using SQL Express, my own e-mail software and whatever else I need. I frankly don't see how Microsoft will keep any customers with these rates. I couldn't afford it regardless, but I'd like to hear from anyone who can justify this service for anyone but the largest corporate customers.
Thanks for your quick response. It's good to see you are listening and trying to come up with a solution so thank you for that.
The most I've ever paid for hosting any of my personal sites is $5/month. So in my view anything above that is too expensive as a "starter package".
However, to be blunt and without wanting to sound like a miser, Google have thrown down the gauntlet and said you can host with us for free. I think Azure has no option but to follow suit in some form - IF it is interested in supporting the hobbyist trying out some ideas or just wanting to host a basic app that consumes next to no resources, but is still online all the time. It maybe that Azure is simply not targetting this group of people, but it should make that clear up front in big text: THIS SERVICE COSTS A MINIMUM OF $1000/year for 100% availability. Judging by your forums this is not something that is very clear to many developers.
Now if Azure is not targetting the hobbyist, I have to ask WHY? There are hundres of thousands of professional .Net developers. I would hazard a guess that many of these use non-MS technology when they try out ideas at home due to the cost. MS addresses this very well with their excellent Express editions. And they need to do something in this respect with their cloud offering as well in my opinion.
Hey Robin. Thanks for your passionate arguments here and telling it like you see it. I personally think your note addresses some of the underlying tones in others’ comments and also over on the request for “make Windows Azure free for developers”. I do look forward to coming back to you and others and showing you how we do get it and doing so well within the 10 year window that unfortunately you have come to expect.
On this topic, let me start by saying I absolutely get the POV that $1000/year is not reasonable for a student or hobbyist developer and I understand the community of people that say just make Azure free (and that GAE has a free option). That being said, everyone on this thread voted for Azure being “less expensive.” A couple people have given their opinion already on how much less expensive; I’m interested in what others have in mind when they say “less expensive Azure.” Exactly how much is that per month or per year? How do you think about that? Also, are there some performance expectations you have for something less expensive relative to the performance of Azure today?
Thanks in advance – Mike
Here's my view and also why I think MS still just don't "get it" when it comes to supporting small entrepreneurs or hobbyists. Their Express editions are excellent, but MS always seem to be 10 years behind in this field. They release this "wonderful" cloud computing service - ideal for the .Net hobbyist to try out and maybe host their blog as a way of learning the service as well as .Net in general. But just one small problem. It's going to cost you $1000/year to host an app probably only you and your friends will ever look at. GAE offer this for free....
Like most developers I've got an idea for an app in my head. It will probably come to nothing, but who knows, it might earn me a bob a or two. So I look for a hosting solution. I know all about discount hosting and so on, but frankly I can't be bothered with maintenance and configuration for my little "idea". I just want to have play around place it in the cloud and be done with it.
So I look at "cloud" options. And the one that stands out is obviously GAE. Free to get going. Always free to use within certain limits and if my site gets slashdotted once in while I know it won't be unavailable. Problem is. I'm a .Net developer. So I'm waiting for Azure. Hoping it will be similar. Thinking, great! I can finally make use of my .Net skills and get something online for "nothing". The dissapointment I encountered when I finally worked out Azure costs a minimum of $1000/year was OVERWHELMING. I'm just SAD, really. Why oh why do MS never think about the small time hobbyist up front? They are always treated like 2nd citizens. Azure could have been somthing remarkable. A real break with MS tradition of only thinking about the enterprise. But no, it's just one big FAIL for the hobbyist from my point of view. It's another generation of IT grads running their startup ideas on something other than MS technology.
The SME I work for hosts 30-40 sites using Asp.Net (and MySql...) for around that amount. I would love to say them: "Hey, lets get this working on Azure and we remove the server maintenance headache". But at $1000/year per instance, how is that cost effective? I thought cloud-computing was meant to be cost-effective. But Azure cannot be cost effective as a hosting solution. So, I guess Azure was not meant to be a hosting solution, but it would have been nice.....
Back to python and GAE it is for me.
Good to see the discussion here... I was shocked to get a huge bill for a developer instance that I had just let sit there for a few weeks, and then suddenly discovered that it was racking up huge charges.
In our business, the place where Azure best would fit is innovation outside of the core, and if each small innovative widget is going to cost, at a minimum, hundreds of dollars per month, that is a non-starter
Lots of great discussion here, it's super valuable input for us on the Windows Azure Team. A big thanks to those that recently completed my short survey on this topic. Also, thanks to Matthias for his recent, thoughtful blog post on this topic, http://www.minddriven.de/?p=775.
Please expect that I'll come back with a few questions as this feedback gets digested.
Thanks again, please keep the feedback coming, Mike
| Mike Wickstrand | Senior Director, Windows Azure Product Planning |
| Microsoft |
| Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @Wickstrand |
| Web: http://blogs.msdn.com/wickstrand/|
| Help design the future of Windows Azure, visit mygreatwindowsazureidea.com! |
I've done a blog post on this topic as well: http://www.minddriven.de/?p=775
With the current Azure pricing model, to run a simple ASP.NET web application I would have to pay 10-20x more than a comparable virtual hosting offer from any other service provider. Maybe I only want my site to be available 4 hours out of the day. Then the costs are about equal. Of course, in that case, I can't just suspend my web role. I'll still get charged, even though it's literally turned off.
David Bennell commented
Having just been on one of these 1 day free training course/seminars on Azure, I can think of several projects I would like to test out on the platform but before even trying to convince my company we should take the Azure route, but to play about with it at a low level is far too expensive compared to other options.
I would like to see a lower cost option maybe where you share cpu time (with other people on this lower cost option) and only pay for what you use, so you can create services that just do a small amount of background processing every once in a while (that may link into other larger scale Azure's applications) and not have to pay the same amount as if you where using 100% of the cpu 100% of the time. (Although when I brought this up in the seminar I was laughed at)
Paying for storage or bandwidth I don't have the same issue with as I can plainly see that nobody else can make use of that resource at the same time I am using it.
But a worker role is just a service or a proccess on that VM?
One way to do this would be to allow many applications to run on the same instance. Currently it seems that only one 'application' can be run per compute instance. Of course there are multi-tenant apps, but very few legacy applications are written that way.
Kevin Hsu commented
I'm looking at Windows Azure and while I love the design, the pricing really bothers me. I have an app that does a short computation once per minute. Over the course of an hour, I estimate it'll consume about 1-5% CPU time. But, it must run 24/7, and if I'm not mistaken, Microsoft would charge you for about 30 x 24 hours per month for this sort of usage. That's more than $85 / mo for just 1 small compute instance.
That can't be right, can it? If so, the whole thing seems oxymoronic - the Azure SDK and tools look perfectly geared for the small developer, but the pricing model seems geared for only well heeled shops.
AWS spot pricing seems like a great idea... bid for unused capacity. I hope something like this gets implemented for Azure
Bram Veenhof commented
I know you can make virtual hosting on Hyper-V cheaper if you start overallocating.Especially for workloads like a simple blog website I don't need my own core I just need a running VM.
Andy B commented
I'd also like to see smaller cost effective "slices" have Memcache/Velocity API support, to help these smaller apps run efficiently.
Gopinath Sundharam commented
The recent Zoomerang survey sent from Windows Azure team does a good job in figuring out what I really want on Azure services.
As a developer and trying to create a small business, I'd like the following:
- Less fixed price so that we can take full advantage of Aazure. Personally, I'm willing to pay up to $20/month and then pay-per-use for CPU and instances. I hope sending a limited number of emails is included in this plan and of course pay more if I need to send more emails.
- I'd like to use SQL Azure for my application. I don't know how much more I'll have to pay for using SQL Azure instead of Tables. Personally, I'm willing to pay up to $10/month.
- Beyond these two, if my website traffic surges (a pain I'd love to have, but only by legitimate users and not spam or denial of service), I'm willing to pay for more instances.
So in total, just to run my website regularly, I'd have to pay $30/month -- that's okay for now.
Reading the comments - I share the developer's concerns as a developer ISV. I also have requirements that are simply less intensive than what amounts to a dedicated VM. I use Rackspace with excellent results. I intend to use Azure even while I know that it will cost more that it returns only because I am paid to architect large systems Microsoft aparrently has decided to target with this pricing model. As pointed out many times the minimum option is above the majority of web site owners needs. That may very well be the Microsoft strategy - don't know. For my business I could go for a configuration where in my instance I could created multiple tennant sites as we do now in our own Windows Server 2008 IIS. I was actually very supprised to learn that compute hours meant VM run time (real-time). That is simply dedicated VM hosting with some glitz sprinkled on it. And worse I can't have have multiple sites in my VM.
Joannes Vermorel commented
We have just open sourced a small webapp codenamed Lokad.Translate for Azure. The current hosting price for this webapp would be around $200 / month, see http://vermorel.com/journal/2010/1/9/lokadtranslate-v10-released-and-best-wishes-for-2010.html Obviously, to support such a scenario, we would really need small VM, typically 1/2, 1/4 and 1/8 the size of a "full" VM.
The pricing is too much to make Azure a successful with its competitors at least current financial market and there are many options and alternatives available for a prospective user of this service.
David Burrell commented
I like Tim Morrison's idea of having a Developer Account that is free, and has 1gb storage, and mostly for the note on what the site would cost, etc.