I’m researching Windows Azure development; and as soon as you check out early feedback one problem jumps out immediately. Azure is prohibitively expensive for small applications.
Here’s a thread that makes the point:
Currently I’m hosting 3 relatively small ASP.net web applications on a VPS. This is costing about $100 per month. I’m considering transitioning to Azure.
Q: Will I need to have 1 azure instance per each ASP.net application? So if I have 3 web apps, then I will need to run 3 instances which costs about $300 per month minimum, correct?
The user is correct. Each application consumes an “instance”, costing from $0.12 per hour, and this cost is incurred whenever the application is available.
Amazon also charges $0.12 per hour for a Windows instance; but the Amazon instance is a virtual machine. You can run as many applications on there as you like, until it chokes.
Google App Engine has a free quota for getting started, and then it is charged according to CPU time. If the app is idle, you don’t pay.
In addition, all these services charge extra for storage and data transfer; but in a low-usage application these are likely to be a small proportion of the total.
Summary: Azure’s problem is that it does not scale down in a way that makes business sense. There is no free quota, unless you count what is bundled with an MSDN subscription.
I realise that it is hard to compare like with like. A cheap Windows plan with a commodity ISP will cost less than either Amazon EC2 or Azure, but it is worth less, because you don’t get a complete VM as with Amazon, or a managed platform as with Azure, or the scalability of either platform. The point though is that by cutting out smaller businesses, and making small apps excessively expensive for customers of any size – even enterprises run small apps – Azure is creating a significant deterrent to adoption and will lose out to its rivals.
Check out the top feature request for Azure right now: Make it less expensive to run my very small service.