In November 2009, Microsoft announced its intentions to add a content-delivery network (CDN) capability to its Windows Azure cloud offering. At the end of May, the company announced pricing plans for this functionality.
The Azure CDN extends the storage piece of the Windows Azure cloud operating system, allowing developers to deliver high-bandwidth content more quickly and efficiently by placing delivery points closer to users. Last year, the Softies said they had 18 Azure CDN locations. (They are up to 19 now).
During the beta period for Windows Azure CDN, there was no usage charge. But starting on June 30, there will be. From a May 28 blog post on the Windows Azure team blog:
"The following three billing meters and rates will apply for the CDN:
•$0.15 per GB for data transfers from European and North American locations
•$0.20 per GB for data transfers from other locations
•$0.01 per 10,000 transactions"
At least one commentator on that blog post seemed to consider Microsoft's pricing in line with that of its competitors, like Amazon's CloudFront and SimpleCDN's CDN offering.
According to Microsoft, the company is using the Windows Azure CDN itself to deliver Windows Update, Zune videos and Bing Maps.
A related aside: Microsoft has been debating internally for years how best to approach the edge-network/CDN problem. I ran a ThinkWeek paper from 2006 on my Microsoft 2.0 book blog that shows the various ways the Softies considered addressing the issue. An interesting stat from that paper:
"CDN services are not inexpensive; Microsoft spent about $40 million on CDN services in FY06. Projections of future growth (based on expected growth in the number of properties, amount of traffic, and usage of CDN services) show this growing to more than $130 million in FY11."
Guess building out its own CDN capability ended up being cheaper than continuing to buy CDN services....