* Update: Please note this article is now redundant. Please defer instead to this clarification: Azure CDN Updated
The pricing structure for the CDN aspect of Windows Azure has just been announced. You may remember that I previously wrote about Global Foundation Services and the mechanism that Microsoft uses to globally distribute its own content. Since CDN might become more interesting to you now that it is officially released, I thought I’d summarise two important points.
I did cover this in greater detail in the previous post about GFS mentioned above; Microsoft does not have a CDN of their own and 3rd party services are utilised to achieve this. While I don’t see it generally being a problem, this might bother some people, mostly the fact that they can’t be sure where their data is actually sitting when it is cached in a CDN node.
CDN nodes are not part of the Microsoft network, therefore you will pay for output data transaction and bandwidth from the Azure Storage service, as well as for connections to CDN node. This means you are really paying a premium for this service. To quote the original release:
Any data transfers and storage transactions incurred to get data from Windows Azure Storage to the CDN will be charged separately at our normal Windows Azure Storage rates.
You have been warned!
It has been a hectic week in Australia around the Windows Azure Platform space. The official Windows Azure launch happened in Sydney and Melbourne. I was lucky enough to pop down on Tuesday for the Sydney event and see David Chappell and Dianne O’Brien present along side Australia’s own Gianpaolo Carraro on the current face of the Windows Azure Platform.
You might recognise David (David Chappell and Associates) as the author of the various Azure whitepapers found on the Azure site. I’ve also seen his slide deck before but after much hunting around this afternoon was unable to find them. David spoke about the basics of the platform, covering off Windows Azure roles, SQL Azure, and AppFabric (formerly .Net Services). David has obviously presented this topic many times before as it shows through in his presentation style. I learnt some tips I will reuse in future when presenting Azure topics. I was also lucky enough to have lunch with David after the event and gain some insight into his thoughts about the near future of Azure and other cloud platforms.
The other presenter was Dianne O’Brien, Senior Director for Business Strategy and Operations in the Windows Azure product team. Dianne was also over in Australia from the mother ship to talk about the Azure offering in Australia. She indicated that we will likely see Azure release in Australia in April 2010, quite a long way given this launch event was held in February. Dianne had an awesome slide deck I would love to get my hands on, and she talked about the Azure pricing strategy, data centre locations, and more.
Not sure how this escaped my notice, but it would seem that service bus pricing will now be based on connection. Exactly what defines a connection and how disconnects and retries are affected is beyond my limited knowledge. I’ll endeavour to find out a little bit more about this as soon as I have bandwidth.
Something else Dianne mentioned that really caught my attention was a statement about how she expects people to architect their applications around the Azure pricing model. I think she is probably right about this to a certain degree (people will seek to minimise cost), but I dearly hope she is wrong. The cloud as an industry already suffers terribly from a lack of anything closely resembling portability. Vendors are all vying for business and platform lock-in. The manifesto debacle last year indicated portability as one of its tenants, yet none of its major sponsors can advertise portability of their products while maintaining a straight face.
Architecting solutions around a pricing model is fraught with danger and is the antithesis of portability in general. No other platform is the same as Azure but that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope for application portability. Ok so you won’t be able to take your C# code over to Google Apps but at least your app should still be hostable on a VM instance in Amazon EC2 or GoGrid. In my opinion we should all be thinking about the cloud-portability problem since we can all make a difference in how this will play out (developers, team leads, middle/senior management, Microsoft, Amazon, etc).
The other event of interest this week was a road trip by Mr David Lemphers, Senior Program Manager on the Windows Azure team. It was great to finally meet David after conversations exchanged over twitter. David was presenting a more developer focused view of the Windows Azure platform and hit most of Australia’s capital cities.
While I didn’t learn a lot personally about the technology or business model of Azure this week, I did come to the realisation that despite having my head deep in Azure for so long, the rest of the community is still quite clueless to Azure and what it can do for them. Which means I better pick up some blogging velocity again hey? =)
Recently we were discussing pricing of cloud hosting versus traditional ‘shared hosting’ and ‘dedicated server hosting’ (in an internal work mail thread). As a consultant, I dabble in my own domains and hosting, and have often sought out the cheapest option for what I needed. This has bitten me before, having services hosted with US hosting companies with no accountability, and I now host stuff (like this blog) on Australian servers.
But I thought it somewhat hypocritical to have a blog about the cloud and not host it in the cloud as well , so I started to investigate pricing with the various providers like GoGrid and EC2. I decided that I would be more than happy to go through the pain of moving from my shared host if I could get a single virtualised server that I could throw all my domains at, for around the same price or less.
But the more I investigated, I just couldn’t see the pricing working in my favour – not for my single server scenario where scalability is not really required (I need a few more hits yet – tell your friends!). I made my calculations based on the lowest end server available, with minimal bandwidth and storage. I estimated 730 hours in a month on average. Here’s the numbers:
|Host||Per Hour||Per Month|
|My Shared Host||-||$24.95|
Ok I realise we’re not comparing apples with apples here. Each service offers differing functionality and is really designed to offer economies of scale, whereas my shared host is designed for my exact market.
So if you are looking at entry level, I guess the point is really: don’t bother.
That being said, what about at the other end, where your company can benefit from scalability and other distributed aspects of cloud computing? Well I have no answer to that, however this post on Google groups presents some interesting arguments around why cloud computing may never actually be viable. Its worth the read.