Microsoft Launches 'Basic' Tier For Azure Web Sites Platform-As-A-Service

Microsoft said it has started offering its new 'Basic' tier for its Azure Web Sites cloud Platform-as-a-Service, pitching it as a less expensive way for customers to run their production websites.

Microsoft, which is engaged in a rapidly escalating price war with competitors Amazon and Google, first revealed the new pricing tier to its website-hosting platform earlier this month.

Basic offers a discount of up to 27 percent from Azure Web Sites' top-of-the-line ’Standard’ tier, a niche Microsoft believes will accommodate developers of small to midsize sites that don't need high-end features like load-balancing and auto-scaling.

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"The new pricing tier is a great benefit to many customers, offering some high-end features at a reasonable cost. We hope this new offering will enable a better deployment for all of you," Yochay Kiriaty, principal program manager lead on the Azure Web Sites Team, wrote in a blog post.

The Basic replaces Microsoft's previous general-purpose tier, which is now called Standard and comes with additional storage, a free SSL connection and other advanced features. Microsoft also offers Free and Shared tiers for Azure Web Sites.

Ira Bell, COO of Nimbo, a New York-based Microsoft partner, told CRN, "It's really nice to see Microsoft accommodating by providing different tiers."

Flexibility with respect to size and features is what customers expect out of public cloud platforms, Bell said.

The variety of pricing plans means it’s important for customers transitioning to the cloud or changing vendors to pay close attention to the specific features of each offering, making sure the solution they choose fits their business, Bell said.

The Basic pricing tier includes core Azure Web Sites, up to three instances of dedicated virtual machines running web sites; SSL support; scheduled jobs, and endpoint monitoring. The Azure Web Sites Basic tier is priced ranging from $56 a month for a small instance to $224 for a large instance, according to Microsoft’s blog post.