Microsoft Azure Aims To Streamline Cloud Pricing

updated its Windows Azure cloud services pricing program

While most cloud services are priced on services used, such as storage, RAM and CPU, Microsoft Azure's offering is based on monthly commitment and on the amount of money the user agrees to spend.

For example, users committing to spend $500 to $14,999 per month will receive a discount of 20 percent from regular Azure pricing; users agreeing to spend $15,000 to $39,999 per month will receive a 23 percent discount; and users committing to spend $40,000 and above will get a 27 percent discount.

[Related: 7 Ways The Cloud Is Changing The Data Center ]

If users go above the spending agreement, Azure 's original terms will apply.

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The changes were added in response to Azure customers who said their needs change over time, and they did not want to have to make long-term commitments to using specific cloud services.

"Our customers rarely know what they need when they start developing an application. This takes the fear out of making commitments," said Steven Martin, general manager of business planning and operations group for Microsoft Windows Azure, in an interview with CRN. "This allows customers to make a commitment to the [Azure] platform to fine tune their applications over time without penalties for changing their minds on the use of specific services."

Cloud providers are beginning to modify their pricing plans to allow more flexible contracts.

Earlier this month, Amazon said it would allow businesses using its cloud services to resell unused, reserved capacity in a program called Reserved Instances Marketplace.

And, two-year-old Cambridge, Mass.-based ProfitBricks introduced a new data center architecture to give users a pay-per-minute plan and the ability to change workloads on the fly.