Microsoft raises Azure availability, lowers prices

Cloud storage

Microsoft has announced service enhancements and a reduced price scheme for its Azure SQL database, as a result of customer feedback.

Microsoft has now promised to deliver a service-level agreement (SLA) of 99.99 percent availability, equivalent to a downtime of just 53 minutes per year.

This will come as a welcome increase from the 99.95 percent previously delivered, particularly given the number of Azure outages that have occurred in recent weeks.

The company has also confirmed price cuts of up to 50 percent compared with existing charges, in order to "help more customers benefit from higher performance and greater business continuity".

Alongside this, the firm has introduced a new low cost performance level called S0, enabling more customers to benefit from features in the Standard Tier. The monthly cost of S0 will be $15 (£9) and will be available from November, when the new price scheme launches.

Eron Kelly, general manager of product marketing for Microsoft SQL Server, said in a blog post that the company would be altering how it charges for the service.

"Azure SQL Database will move to hourly billing for the new service tiers. This will provide customers with greater flexibility to shift between service tiers and performance levels, based on demand patterns, to gain cost-effective, reliable performance", he said.

Kelly also added that his team were working on enabling independent software vendors (ISVs) to manage resources across databases rather than individually.

"For example, some SaaS ISVs may have a separate SQL database for each customer and as the activity of each database varies, they want to manage a pool of resources with a defined budget across these customer databases", he said.

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