Microsoft cuts Windows Azure cloud storage prices

Microsoft has chopped prices on its Windows Azure cloud storage for the second time this year.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

The cloud-storage pricing wars just keep going and going.

The latest to trim prices is Microsoft, following similar back-to-back moves by Amazon and Google.

On December 5, Microsoft announced its second Azure Storage price cut of this year. Effective December 12, Microsoft is cutting prices of both geo-redundant and locally-redundant storage by up to 28 percent, according to a post on the Windows Azure blog.

 (As the Softies explain in the post, "Windows Azure Storage accounts have geo-replication on by default to provide the greatest durability. Customers can turn geo-replication off to use what we call Locally Redundant Storage, which results in a discounted price relative to Geo Redundant.")

Here's the new post-cut price list, courtesy of Microsoft:



So with this cut, which service is cheapest of them all, when it comes to storage? It's hard to say.

"Since pricing for both of these services are changing quite frequently and depended upon a number of factors, it was not possible for me to pinpoint exactly which service is cheaper," acknowledged Guarav Mantri, founder of Cerbrata and a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) in a blog post on the topic.

Mantri created a simple calculator to try to help users determine whether Microsoft or Amazon was the low-cost winner. He noted that transaction costs (costs incurred based on number of transactions performed against each service); storage costs (costs of data stored in each service calculated in GB); and bandwidth costs (costs incurred based on data sent from the datacenter) all needed to be factored in.

Speaking of price cuts, the Azure team also recently posted about cutting the prices of two key Windows Azure Active Directory (WAAD) components -- access control and core directory and authentication -- to zero. The post never mentioned the original cost of these components or the amount by which the pricing was cut.

One reader mentioned to me in an e-mail exchangethat ACS (access control services) was officially priced at $1.99 per 100,000 identity transactions. He said it has been available for free as part of a promotion for for more than a year. 

WAAD is Microsoft's Active Directory directory service for the cloud. A number of Microsoft cloud properties already are using WAAD, including the Windows Azure Online Backup, Windows Azure, Office 365, Dynamics CRM Online and Windows InTune.

In case you're looking for a one-stop Azure pricing page, try this.

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