We know Amazon (AMZN) offers an uptime guarantee of 99.95% on its EC2 cloud (measured in five-minute increments). So when Microsoft (MSFT) introduced the world to its Azure cloud in October, we wondered: What kind of reliability could we expect from Microsoft?
Seems the answer is, it depends on how much you’re willing to spend.
Speaking at a Windows Azure meetup at Microsoft’s midtown Manhattan offices earlier tonight, company executives said Microsoft is leaning towards a “tiered service level agreement,” with cheap cloud access offered with lower performance guarantees, and premium pricing to be charged for high-reliability service.
Execs added that a tiered SLA is only the company’s thinking at the moment, and may change before Azure goes live.
More details on Azure from the meeting:
- Azure is slated for go-live late 2009, with a beta release highly likely somewhere sooner than that. “That may slip,” Microsoft execs are quick to add, “our philosophy is ‘no wine before its time’.”
- No word yet on pricing. But in Q&A attendees were told to look at what the competition charges, with promises Microsoft’s fee structure will be “competitive.”
- Microsoft executives kept repeating, like a mantra, “we build on what you know.” The pitch to developers is Azure is an easy transition for programmers already accustomed to developing applications with Microsoft tools.
- The company only has one Azure data centre live at the moment, in Washington State. But multiple data centres are scheduled to open worldwide in the coming months, with HP (HPQ) providing a lot of the hardware. One place Microsoft is looking closely: Greenland, which is cold (good for data centres) and has fast access to Europe. (Amazon opened data centres in Ireland in December for European EC2 users.)
- Microsoft isn’t yet considering offering “private clouds” to corporations, governments, or academia. Which means less competition for the likes of IBM (IBM), which has been aggressively moving into the “private cloud” space.
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