Microsoft Azure has virtual machines (their “VM Role”) for as little as $9.36/month. Wow – that’s a crazy low price! Let’s dig a little deeper in this post though because there seems to remain a lot of confusion on the total cost of a solution.
The base $99 offering at OrcsWeb includes: 40 GB disk, 1 GB RAM, and 1 vCPU. It also includes:
- Cloudy features including automatic fail-over to another cluster node if there is a hardware failure
- 250 GB monthly data transfers
- A single rotating daily backup for DR purposes
- Both email and telephone support with a 15 minute average response time. If you want administrative support (where OrcsWeb fully administers your server) and support to help you specifically isolate and troubleshoot issues specific to your application, that is covered with the Complete Care Managed Services (CCMS) for $125/month. That also adds 14-day retention to the backups.
How does Azure compare when adding in a few other key features? The base at Azure ($9.36/month) includes 768 MB of RAM, so it’s a lower-resourced solution, but still, we’ll use that to start the comparison. Microsoft Azure pricing for VMs: http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/pricing/calculator/?scenario=virtual-machines
- Automatic fail-over: This might be included – that’s unclear in their materials.
- 250 GB monthly data transfers +$29.40/month
- Azure does replicate data for DR purposes in a similar fashion that OrcsWeb does.
- Support – this is where it gets interesting. Azure support plans and pricing are linked here: http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/support/plans/
The included support with Microsoft Azure (which would put the hosting plan above at $38.76/month so far) is community forums only. Want to open a ticket or call someone? You need to upgrade support levels. Their next level of support (Developer) is an additional $29/month (now we’re up to $67.76) and allows for web-based ticket submissions with a “Fastest Response Time” of up-to 8 hours. Note too that this is the initial response time – not time to resolution. Want to be able to pick up the phone and speak with someone? You can upgrade to the next level of support (Standard) for an additional $300/month (now we’re up to $338.76). That level gives you three (yes, only 3) phone calls per month – which are “call backs” within 2 hours from the time you call them. If you want to drop the response time to 1 hour it takes the Professional Direct level of support at $1,000/month (yes, so $1,038.76/month for a VM!). How about a 15 minute response time? That’s the Premier level of support which starts at $30,000/year or approximately +$2,500/month.
So, if you want a super-cheap Windows VM with no support, Azure might be something to consider. But in my experience, even with development and test machines, support is important and when you need something you probably don’t want to cross your fingers and hope someone in the community forums will help you. Want to be able to send an email or pick up the phone and speak to someone in support, then you are looking at an Azure solution priced at least $338.76/month compared to an OrcsWeb Cloud Server priced at $99.00/month (or $224/month if you want 14 days of backups and complete hands-off system administration).
I hope this helps clarify VM Role pricing at Azure. Happy hosting!