Microsoft cuts prices on several of its Azure virtual machines

Microsoft is cutting prices of some of its Azure VMs. Meanwhile, in other cloud pricing news, here's what to expect to pay for Enterprise Mobility + Security E3/E5 services.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is lowering prices on what officials say are "many of (its) most popular virtual machines" running on Azure, effective October 1.


Here's what's new:

Prices of the Dv2 series VMs will be reduced by up to 15 percent . Prices of the A1 and A2 Basic VMs will be cut by up to 50 percent. Prices of the F series will be reduced up to 11 percent..

In addition, in November 2016, Microsoft will introduce new A series virtual machines (Av2), with prices up to 36 percent lower than the A series Standard VM prices available today, according to today's blog post.

A series VMs are Microsoft's entry-level compute tier. "A Basic is an economical option for development workloads, test servers, build servers, code repositories, low-traffic websites and web applications, micro services, early product experiments and small databases," the company's Azure VM pricing page explains.

Dv2 series VMs are its general-purpose tier, with more memory and local SSD storage than A series. " D1-5 v2 instances are based on the 2.4 GHz Intel Xeon E5-2673 v3 (Haswell) processor, and can achieve 3.1 GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0. D1-5 v2 instances offer a powerful combination of CPU, memory and local disk for most production applications," Microsoft pricing page says.

F series VMs provide a higher CPU-to-memory ratio with a lower price than the Dv2 series, explained officials in an October 3 blog post on the price cuts. "The F-Series virtual machines sport 2GB RAM and 16 GB of local solid state drive (SSD) per CPU core, and are optimized for compute intensive workloads. The F-series is based on the 2.4 GHz Intel Xeon E5-2673 v3 (Haswell) processor, which can achieve clock speeds as high as 3.2 GHz with the Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0. These VMs are suitable for scenarios like batch processing, web servers, analytics and gaming."

There's also a newly announced Microsoft Azure Hybrid Use benefit available to those running Windows Server who also have Software Assurance. Microsoft officials said the Hybrid Use Benefit can enable users to run Windows Server workloads at 41 percent lower cost.

So why is Microsoft doing this now -- especially right after Cloud and Enterprise Chief Scott Guthrie told Wall Streeters that Microsoft is mostly competing on value, not price, with its cloud wares? I asked Microsoft whether today's cuts were in response to any recent cuts by Amazon, since Microsoft officials said in 2013 that the company would match Amazon price cuts on basic/commodity cloud services. No word back from the Softies.

In other Microsoft cloud pricing news, the Enterprise Management + Security (EMS) E3 and E5 bundles are now on the Microsoft price list. The E3 version of the service is $8.75 per user per month; the more robust E5 is $15 per user per month. Volume discounts are available for both.

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