Microsoft slashes Azure prices, introduces new basic tier

Amazon Web Services and Google also cut prices in March

Microsoft said Monday it was cutting prices of its Azure cloud services to match the prices of competitor Amazon Web Services in the latest in a price war in cloud services.

Besides introducing a new tier of general-purpose services, Microsoft also announced a move to region-specific pricing to help customers save money, as some workloads may not be dependent on location.

The company is cutting prices on compute by up to 35 percent while the prices of its storage service will be down by up to 65 percent.

AWS lowered the prices of its cloud services last Wednesday, a day after Google chopped prices. The move by Microsoft coincides with its Build developer conference in San Francisco later this week.

Microsoft is cutting Azure prices in line with its earlier announced commitment to match Amazon's prices in commodity services, wrote Steven Martin, Microsoft general manager for Azure in a blog post. While price is important and grabs headlines, innovation and quality will prove far more important than commoditization of compute and storage, he added.

Microsoft is also introducing on April 3 a new "Basic" service that offers similar machine configurations as the standard tier of instances the company currently offers, but without the load balancing or auto-scaling which are included in the standard version. The Basic service, priced up to 27 percent lower than the standard version, is targeted at production applications that don't need the Azure load balancer, development workloads, test servers and batch processing applications, Martin wrote.

The company is also cutting from May 1 the prices of Memory-Intensive Instance, which provide larger amounts of memory for running high-throughput applications such as databases, by up to 35 percent for Linux instances and up to 27 percent for Windows instances. The company is also planning to make a Basic tier for Memory Intensive Instances available in the coming months.

Microsoft is also cutting from May 1 the pricing of its Block Blob storage by up to 65 percent for LRS (locally redundant storage) and up to 44 percent for GRS (geographically redundant storage). It will also make available in the coming months a new redundancy level for Block Blob storage, called Zone Redundant Storage. ZRS will be priced lower by 37.5 percent than GRS when available.

The new redundancy option keeps data durable by storing an equivalent of three copies of customer data across multiple facilities, sometimes in the same region or across two regions, rather than the three copies each stored in two regions under its current GRS redundancy, Martin said.

In a chart on its blog post, Microsoft claimed it matched Amazon in price on many compute and storage services after the cuts, with its prices lower in some cases. Amazon could not be immediately reached for comment after business hours.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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