Microsoft is targeting Amazon Web Services (AWS) by offering a price-match offer on its Azure infrastructure services, which it has made generally available (GA) today.
The software giant launched its IaaS Azure platform in preview mode last summer, but claims today's GA release will propel the product into a wave of new customers, which it hopes to lure away from nearest rival AWS.
Microsoft claims its whole Windows Azure platform is being adopted at double the rate of AWS, and that it signs up about 1,000 customers per day to its cloud offering.
Windows Azure cloud platform consists of a variety of functions including media services and PaaS. Its IaaS platform, which is being launched generally today, aims to attract customers to transfer their existing applications and data into its cloud in a move Microsoft claims will save them time and money.
The vendor's Windows Azure lead Michael Newberry said the firm wants to take pricing issues out of equation to allow customers to focus on its technology, and not that of its competitors.
"We want to tell customers that they can take the price for granted, and that as [competitors'] prices move, we will match them. We want to talk to customers about how to use the cloud platform and tools to change their businesses and do amazing things," he added.
"By taking the pricing off the table and letting them assume we will match [rivals' pricing], we allow them to talk just about [the technology]."
The price guarantee will be valid from 1 June when Microsoft will raise the cost of Azure IaaS to reflect the fact that it is no longer in preview mode. The hike will see prices rise across its compute, data, app, network and support services. Newberry said the cost is still "tiny" and added that the AWS price-match offer should ensure the price hikes are not a problem.
In February 2012, Windows Azure service suffered a 12-hour worldwide outage which saw users such as G-Cloud unable to function. As part of the IaaS platform under GA, a financially backed service-level agreement (SLA) is being offered to customers to ensure users are covered should a similar issue occur.
Dan Scarfe, chief executive at Azure partner Dot Net Solutions, said having the SLA in place reassures end users and makes the overall proposition more appealing. He added that his firm has seen a strong uptake of the product in the media and retail space while it was in preview mode.
Newberry said the IaaS offering has been popular across a variety of verticals during preview mode, and the solution is relevant to small, start-up firms as well as large enterprises.
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