Partner pricing and promo models announced for Microsoft Azure

NEW ORLEANS – Microsoft‘s (NASDAQ: MSFT) next phase in its Software + Services strategy, Windows Azure, will start to push partners toward development of cloud services, especially private clouds offerings.

Bob Muglia, president of the Server and Tools Business at Microsoft, during his keynote address at the Worldwide Partner Conference, held here, outlined the channel business model for the Azure platform.

Azure, which contains a cloud services operating system, a Web-based relational database in SQL Azure, and .NET Services, will be available in a pay-as-you go pricing model.

“Now it’s time to build Azure apps and really build the market momentum with a services practice and learning how it integrates with your business,” Muglia said.

Muglia also said that a subscription model will be offered for those partners that want predictability. Azure will be integrated into volume licensing.

More special programs will be coming, Muglia said, although he offered no details. CDN has learned that all partners will get a five per cent discount with the new pricing models and be able to charge additional fees on top of Azure to customers.

This, along with the promotion of 250 seats on Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) for free to all partners will build a many evangelists in the channel, said Darren Bibby, IDC channel analyst.

“Partners are still not sure how they’ll play in the cloud. They still have to figure it all out. This kind of promotion is ideal for the partner that says ‘what’s in it for me’?”“They can try it and possibly fall in love with in and become an evangelist for Microsoft in the marketplace. This strategy has worked very well for Microsoft in the past with their other products,” Bibby said.

The problem for the channel is that the term Software + Services is widely disliked, Bibby said. The term is hard for customers to understand over the traditional cloud computing. However, the channel community does believe in a hybrid strategy, Bibby said.

“Microsoft is poised with the only online model, the only hosted model, the only partner-hosted model and on premise solutions. That kind of choice is very powerful,” he said.

Azure is free at In November, Microsoft will roll-out a 12 cents/hour computing price offering along with 15 cents per GB stored, 10 cents per 10K transferred and between 10 and 15 cents per GB of bandwidth.

SQL Azure Web Edition Database will start at $9.99 and go up to $100 for the Business Edition. In the .Net Services space, messages will cost 15 cents per 100K, while bandwidth will be similar in price to Azure.

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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