By Vicky Lea

The time has come again to put pen to paper, or should I say fingers to keyboard, and write my next blog entry, this time on Windows Azure and how it is licensed.

Firstly let us take a quick look at what Windows Azure is. When we talk about Windows Azure we are talking about Cloud. Windows Azure is a Microsoft hosted cloud platform which allows you to build, deploy and manage applications across Microsoft-managed datacentres. And with Windows Azure you can use the cloud alongside your existing infrastructure and apps meaning you can utilise common tools, technologies and skills.

There are a large range of services available within Windows Azure ranging from Compute services to Data Services, App Services and Networks. And these services can be combined to provide various solutions, such as Infrastructure, Mobile, Web, Media, Identity and Access Management, Big Data, Dev and Test and Storage, Backup and Recovery. For more detail on the different Windows Azure services and solutions I would recommend looking at www.windowsazure.com.

The Windows Azure services are charged based on the amount of service that has been consumed and these charges vary per service. For instance, Virtual Machines is one of the Compute Services and there are a number of sizes of offering available which control the number of Virtual Cores, RAM and ultimately the Price per Hour:

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This table has been taken from http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/pricing/details/virtual-machines/ and this site contains all the pricing details per service with some extremely useful FAQs about each service.

When it comes to purchasing the services that are a number of different payment options available:

First is Pay As You Go. This is a flexible offering with no upfront costs and no long term commitment. You simply pay for the service you use on a monthly basis.

Next are the Monetary Commitment offerings. The monetary commitment offerings are available either through MOSP (Microsoft Online Subscription Program) or an EA (Enterprise Agreement). The MOSP offering allows you to commit to either 6 or 12 months of service usage, at a discounted price compared to the Pay As You Go offering, with a minimum commitment of $500 per month. As well as choosing the commitment length you can also select whether you wish to pay monthly or pre-pay for the commitment period. The 12 month commitment length and pre-pay options, if elected, will increase the % discount received for the services.

Alternatively if you are an EA customer you can subscribe to the Windows Azure services either as an Additional Product in your existing EA, or via the Enrolment for Windows Azure which is a separate EA Enrolment dedicated to purchasing the Windows Azure services. If you are interested in either of these options I would recommend talking to your Large Account Reseller.

Now, these purchase options that I have outlined are for customers who want to subscribe to the Windows Azure services, however, it is also important to remember that if you have an MSDN Subscription you will also receive an allocation of Windows Azure services.

With Visual Studio Professional, Premium or Ultimate with MSDN you receive a monthly allocation of Windows Azure credits which will allow you to develop and test on Windows Azure. Each MSDN subscription will receive a specific amount of credit per month but this can then be used on any combination of the Windows Azure services. It is also important to remember that this benefit does need to be activated before it can be used.

If you are reading this and thinking that this is not how Windows Azure under MSDN works, then please be aware that this benefit has been updated as of June 2013 in order to simplify the offering with a fixed amount of credit that can be used up with any of the Windows Azure services.

To see more detail around the levels of credit, the Windows Azure services available through MSDN and FAQs on the recent update to the Windows Azure MSDN benefit take look at this site: http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/pricing/member-offers/msdn-benefits/

Another resource which may be useful when looking at Windows Azure is the Pricing Calculator. This can be found on http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/pricing/calculator/ and allows you to model the services you require and then see the cost of those services when purchased through the Pay As You Go or the 6 or 12 month commitment offerings.

You may have noticed whilst reading this blog that I have pointed you to various pages on www.windowsazure.com, and I would like to highlight that I do think this is a really useful site for finding out more information around the Windows Azure services and the purchase options available for all those services, so would highly recommend taking a good look at this site if you are interested in Windows Azure!