It’s the time of year when Microsoft ropes in its rockstar evangelist, Scott Guthrie, to make a set of announcements around the Windows Azure platform. In June of 2012, Guthrie announced a major facelift to Windows Azure (internally known as the Spring release) that included the Azure VMs, which brought the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) flavor to the Microsoft cloud. On April 23, Microsoft will hold another event, called Windows Azure Conf, that will be keynoted by Guthrie. Following the tradition, the Microsoft marketing team might leverage this forum to announce the general availability of the Windows Azure IaaS feature, among other enhancements.
The Azure VM capabilities have been in the preview mode for almost a year, giving ample time for Microsoft and its customers to try out various scenarios. Except for Red Hat, Microsoft has been able to get Canonical, OpenLogic, and Suse to bring their Linux distributions to Windows Azure. It is not known if Microsoft’s archrival Red Hat will ever support Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Fedora on the Azure platform.
Given the Microsoft news, it may not be a coincidence that Amazon announced a cut in the price of EC2 instances running Microsoft Windows weeks before the Azure VMs going into the GA mode. AWS claims that with this cut, the customers may enjoy savings of up to 26 percent. With the ambition of on-boarding enterprise workloads, Amazon cannot ignore the Windows platform, which is the choice of many enterprise customers. With Microsoft officially entering the IaaS space, it is only natural for Amazon to lure the Windows customers by throwing yet another price cut at them.
Below is the price comparison of the on-demand Microsoft Windows instance types on Windows Azure and Amazon EC2 (US-East).
I am sure that the Redmond camp is working on a price cut to coincide with the Azure VM GA announcement that matches the current EC2 pricing.
Google is also getting ready to open up the Google Compute Engine to the public. Though GCE doesn’t support Microsoft Windows virtual machines, the Linux support is comprehensive. Initial reports suggest that GCE will either match or exceed the performance of Amazon EC2.
With the new players getting into the space, customers will have a choice of cloud platforms.