Microsoft Takes on AWS with Azure IaaS, Price Match and Offer Ubuntu 12.04

Microsoft has taken Windows Azure Infrastructure Services from pre-release to general public availability, packing some big guns to compete with Amazon’s popular offerings.  The news comes just as the annual OpenStack Summit hits its stride this week, where Rackspace unveiled its own AWS competitor based on its open platform.

Windows Azure Infrastructure Services, aside from being a mouthful, will deliver virtual machine configurations, a virtual private network and a new Azure software development kit, complete with higher memory capacity and higher performance compute nodes.

IaaS price wars live on


Azure is currently being used by 200,000 businesses, and that number is growing by 1,000 daily.  While Azure’s current offering is a relatively enticing one, Microsoft knows the way to beat AWS is on pricing, another battlefront Amazon’s already fighting against Rackspace.  Prices on Virtual Machines and Cloud Services have gone down by 21-33 percent.

“It is important that we get them through the process, price shouldn’t be a barrier for the customer to choose the best cloud provider,” Michael Newberry, Windows Azure lead at Microsoft UK said.

“At the end of the day it should be about different technical facilities, what is the right environment for a particular workload, a particular application scenario. And that’s why we wanted to take the price discussion off the table and say ‘look, we know prices are changing and this is a market that is developing, but lets make this about the best environment, the best architecture, the best cloud environment for your particular customer.”

Newberry also points out that its new offerings will be particularly enticing to those already using Active Directory, SQL Server and Sharepoint.

A golden goose in the datacenter


Microsoft’s hastening focus on IaaS is fueled by the fact that AWS generated about $1.8 billion in revenue last year, and could generate $20 billion by the end of this decade, as more cloud service providers turn to Amazon’s burgeoning infrastructure offerings.  It’s the enterprise Amazon’s after, and time is its biggest hurdle.  Where Microsoft already has a foothold in the enterprise sector, AWS is still building its clientele.

Microsoft’s not Amazon’s only impeding rival, and many potential competitors are leveraging OpenStack to build viable alternatives for the enterprise.  This motif is all the more relevant with the OpenStack Summit going on this week, where several industry heavyweights have rallied around this cause.

Scalable infrastructure has jumped from the wish list to the must-have list, and it’s been in Microsoft’s better interest to support the OpenStack initiative.  At the OpenStack Summit we heard from Alessandro Pilotti, the CEO of Cloudbase Solutions, at theCube with show hosts John Furrier and Jeff Frick.  Microsoft has been supporting OpenStack with Hyper-V, and Pilotti shared his thoughts on Microsoft’s relationship with the OpenStack community and underlying technology.

“Microsoft has other technologies such as Azure or System Center, so we want to make sure that OpenStack is not in competition with their technologies.  It’s taking on… another segment of the market,” Pilotti stated.  See Pilotti’s entire segment below.


Ubuntu 12.04

Last year, Microsoft announced support for Linux-based operating systems last year, and now, with the Windows Azure Infrastructure Services, it will offer Ubuntu 12.04 support from Canonical with its Spring release, while the Autumn release will see direct support from Microsoft.