The Power of ‘And’

Announcing Infrastructure Services GA and New Price Commitment

Today is an exciting day for Microsoft, Windows Azure and all of our customers around the world.  I am very pleased to announce the general availability of Windows Azure Infrastructure Services. This new service now makes it possible for customers to move applications into the cloud.

Our announcement today is a significant step in our cloud computing strategy, which has been influenced directly by our discussions with customers and partners around the world.  Throughout these conversations, one thing holds true in every discussion – enterprises know that success with the cloud lies in the power of “and.”  Customers don’t want to rip and replace their current infrastructure to benefit from the cloud; they want the strengths of their on-premises investments and the flexibility of the cloud. It’s not only about Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS), it’s about Infrastructure Services and Platform Services and hybrid scenarios.  The cloud should be an enabler for innovation, and an extension of your organization’s IT fabric, not just a fancier way to describe cheap infrastructure and application hosting

Customers have also told me that they don’t want to have to choose either a low price or good performance; they want a low price and good performance. That’s why today we are also announcing a commitment to match Amazon Web Services prices for commodity services such as compute, storage and bandwidth.  This starts with reducing our GA prices on Virtual Machines and Cloud Services by 21-33%.  Regardless of how you choose to buy Windows Azure, you’ll get the benefit of this price reduction. As our operations GM Steven Martin said, “If you had concerns that Windows Azure was more expensive, we’re putting those concerns to rest today.”

By listening to customer feedback, we learned a lot about the workloads you want to run. As part of our new Infrastructure Services release, we’ve added in new high memory VM instances (28GB/4 core and 56 GB/8 core) to run your most demanding workloads.  We also learned more about the apps you want to run so we’ve added in a number of new Microsoft validated instances to our list including SQL Server, SharePoint, BizTalk Server, and Dynamics NAV to name a few.

It’s gratifying to see our customers already using our unique hybrid solution to innovate. For example, automotive marketing and social media firm Digital Air Strike have utilized Windows Azure’s Infrastructure Services and Platform Services to create an instant feedback mechanism for all car purchases and service transactions for automotive giant General Motors. This enables GM to monitor the health of their customer relationships in near real time, providing deep and valuable business insights.

Digital Air Strike’s CMO recently told us that they’d looked at Amazon Web Services and other cloud providers, but concluded that “when you work for the enterprise, you have to choose Microsoft.” We’re honored by that statement, and it deepens our resolve to continue to lead the enterprise, not just with our world class cloud platform, but with decades of experience and unparalleled support – enterprise is in our DNA.  We’ll never tell you that a Microsoft app inside your virtual machine is “up the stack” and we don’t support it—we’ll support it and make sure you’re successful. And we’ll back it with monthly SLAs that are among the industry’s highest.

Another customer I recently spoke to is Telenor, a Norwegian telecommunications company who needed to upgrade to the latest SharePoint solution across 13 business units and 12 countries.  Traditional approaches would have exceeded their timeframe and budget, so they turned to Windows Azure, spun up their SharePoint 2013 farms and reduced their setup time from 3 months to two weeks, saving not only time, but money with a 70% cost reduction on their test environment.  For production, they will leverage the VM portability available between Windows Azure and Windows Server to move their final production deployment to their existing 3rd party hosting provider. Incredible time to market and no vendor lock-in.

Telenor’s great story is just one example on a growing list of more than 200,000 Windows Azure customers. More and more, we’re hearing from customers that our hybrid cloud approach delivers flexibility to develop and deploy apps the way businesses need. We want to ensure customers are set up for the future while working with what they have today, leveraging existing skills and infrastructure on premises and in Windows Azure.

We recognize customers have a choice, and that’s why today, we are making it as easy as possible to have it all – a complete hybrid cloud platform, great support, without a price barrier. Go to WindowsAzure.com today for a free trial, and experience the power of “and”. Also visit Scott Guthrie’s blog for a deep dive into Infrastructure Services.

Bill Hilf