Microsoft Cuts Prices On SQL Azure Cloud Storage

Microsoft cut the price of its SQL Azure cloud database in a move the company said would result in cost savings of 48 percent to 75 percent for organizations with databases larger than 1 GB.

Microsoft also introduced a 100 MB database option designed to help businesses get started with SQL Azure.

Launched in September 2010, SQL Azure is a cloud-based data storage service along the lines of Amazon Web Services' Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service). It's seen as a key component of Microsoft's cloud computing initiative, along with the Windows Azure platform, Office 365 and Dynamics CRM Online cloud applications, and Windows Intune desktop management service.

Microsoft hasn't disclosed subscriber or sales information about Windows Azure or SQL Azure. Last July Microsoft dropped all fees for moving data into Windows Azure in a bid to increase adoption of the cloud computing platform.

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In December Microsoft tripled the maximum SQL Azure database size from 50 GB to 150 GB and set a price cap of $499.95 per database.

Microsoft, in a blog announcing the reduced pricing and the new 100 MB option, said the changes "are the result of both customer feedback and evolving usage patterns." The blog, posted by Steve Martin, general manager of Windows Azure business planning, said many cloud projects start small but need to grow quickly -- a pattern that led to the price changes. And the 100 MB option follows requests from cloud adopters with smaller workloads who want an inexpensive alternative.

The price changes also could be seen as a defensive move against Amazon Web Services, which earlier this month reduced prices for its S3 service, according to a blog posted by Jeff Barr, Amazon Web Services evangelist.

Under Microsoft's new pricing schedule, a business with a 5 GB database that previously paid $49.95 per month will now pay $25.99, or 48 percent less, Microsoft said. A 50 GB database that previously cost $499.95 per month will now cost $125.99, or 75 percent less.

Microsoft will charge a flat $4.99 per month for databases up to 100 MB and a flat $9.99 for databases ranging between 100 MB and 1 GB.