Cloud competition heats up as Microsoft challenges Amazon Web Services

News Article - Tuesday, 04 June 2013 12:10

By: Kathryn Moody Category: Hosting

Microsoft upped the ante on cloud competitors this week as they announced updates for Windows Azure, including a new price plan and stronger integration with other Microsoft IT infrastructure development tools.

These announcements were made at the Microsoft TechEd 2013 conference this week.

The company plans to offer Azure with pricing by the minute with no minimum buy-in, Brad Anderson, corporate VP of Microsoft’s Server and Tools unit, said.

This announcement makes good on Microsoft’s promise to match Amazon Web Services in pricing. It also reflects the announcement Google made late May concerning the public release of Google Compute Engine. GCE also charges by the minute, but with a minimum of 10 minutes.

AWS charges by the hour, with price depending on whether the customer pre-pays for reserved instances, or buys on-demand on the open market.

Microsoft also announced broad timelines for Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, Visual Studio 2013, and SQL Server 2014. These products are IT infrastructure development tools that allow for the creation of a private, in-house cloud by enterprises and will be fully integrated with Azure to streamline how companies can utilize public and private clouds.

"We have focused on enabling organizations to embrace the hybrid cloud, breaking down the barriers to seamlessly stretch your data center out to a service provider, or out to Azure," Anderson said. "Rather than purchasing licenses from other vendors, you can now take advantage of what is in SQL Server and Windows Server to get these capabilities, which are covered in your existing licenses."

These products will be available in preview form later this month, and all will be available as commercial releases by the end of the year, except for SQL Server 2014, which will be released early in 2014.

Microsoft customers wanting private clouds can use the cloud components, and then shift workloads between internal data centers and Microsoft-run Windows Azure at will. This "cloud-hybridization” has become the norm in the cloud computing industry.

These resources are in contrast to AWS, which does not allow AWS instances to be run in-house. Cloud hybridization, however, has become a focus for Amazon since their partnership with Eucalyptus.

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