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When big biz is forced to compete: Now Microsoft latest to cut cloud prices

Redmond follows Amazon which followed Google – what will the mid-tier firms do?

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Microsoft will cut its Azure cloud prices after Amazon slashed its AWS prices in response to Google's cloud price cut.

Redmond announced on Monday that it would lower its prices for cloud services between 27 and 65 percent on the April 3 in response to a wave of reductions that washed through the cloud industry after Google undercut its rivals last week.

These prices come ahead of Microsoft's three-day Build 2014 jamboree for developers that starts this Wednesday in San Francisco, California.

"You won’t see us take the stage at Build and use the opening moment to announce a price cut. This isn’t retail; innovation matters. I’ll cover pricing right here, right now," Redmond Azure chap Steven Martin sniffed in a blog post announcing the cuts.

These new prices cuts mean the cost of Windows-based memory-intensive Azure instances shall fall by as much as 27 percent, along with a price cut of 65 percent for locally redundant storage (LRS) and 44 percent for geo-redundant storage (GRS). The new prices all match Amazon Web Services' storage costs, as Microsoft had previously said it would. However, they fail to go as low as Google which has dropped its storage prices far below its rivals.

A Linux-based Standard A5 instance with 14GB of memory, two CPU cores and up to 4TB of attached disk storage will fall from $0.320 per hour down to $0.220, on Azure, compared to $0.245 for an AWS m2.xLarge instance (2 cores, 17.1GB of RAM and 420GB of flash storage), or $0.164 for a Google n1-highmem-2 instance with two cores and 13GB of RAM.

The caveat here is that only AWS offers directly-attached solid-state disk storage – a powerful technology for developers keen on manipulating large datasets.

Along with today's storage cost drop, Microsoft has created a new family of "Basic" general-purpose servers. These will be priced at up to 27 percent less than their standard forebears, but will not include auto-balancing or load scaling technology.

"Microsoft will continue to focus on bringing our customers a world-class service with an unrivaled user experience. This means best-in-class value while still providing the most complete cloud experience on the market. It means massive investments in cutting-edge infrastructure and world-class R&D. It means continuing to grow our developer and partner ecosystems. Simply put, it means devoting the bulk of our efforts to delivering innovation and a quality experience for our customers, developers, and partners," Microsoft wrote in its blog post.

El Reg's cloud desk here in San Francisco will be slipping out of the office to the Moscone Center in the city for the duration of Build, and will be sure to delve deeply into whatever technologies Microsoft chooses to announce.

With these price changes the industry is showing the glimmerings of true competition, which will be a relief to cloudy consumers and a worry to mid-size cloud providers forced to compete with these large firms. ®

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