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Stopped Azure VMs are no longer charged, MSDN benefits improved, and more!

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Wow, some truly exciting announcements were made today. I will summarize them here, but once again, for the nitty-gritty details, please see the original post.

1- If you stop a VM, you won’t be charged. This is very new. Until now, if you stopped a VM, we would turn the virtual machine off, but we would leave it deployed to the environment, leaving the hardware allocated to your machine, which continued to trigger billing. You had to ‘delete’ your machine to de-provision it from the environment, and then we would stop charging you. This caused a lot of confusion with customers, so we will now stop charging your VM when you ‘stop’ it. This is a  great example of how we are constantly working to make the cloud simple AND powerful.

2- Charged by the minute. Since the first release of Windows Azure we have charged by the clock hour. That meant that if you started a machine at 10:30, and stopped at 12:30, you would be charged for three hours (the 10 o’clock hour, the 11 o’clock hour, and the noon o’clock hour). This was to simplify billing, but it mean higher charges for customers because of rounding on the time used. Starting today, we charge VMs by the minute. This will save customers a lot of money. We are one of the first major cloud vendors to move to minute based billing.

An example: If I use a two core Linux virtual machine with just over 3GB of memory on Windows Azure for 65 minutes, or one hour and five minutes, it would cost $.13, charged to the minute.  If I use a similar configuration on an alternative cloud provider I would pay more as they will bill me for a full two hours even though I am only using five minutes of the second hour. Depending on my location choice at the alternate provider, my cost could be as high as $.32 for the equivalent service, a difference of $.19 for that one instance.

3- MSDN subscribers receive free credits. Up until today MSDN subscribers receive ‘free Azure time’. This was expressed as a grid, with a certain amount of free time, allocated per service. You might get 750 hours of free CPU, and then 1GB of free data, etc. etc. This was very complicated, and we were always tuning the ‘right amount’ of each free resource to make sure that it was useful by the developer.

Today we are shifting to a free credit per month plan. Depending on your level, you are granted a spend limit per month. For example, if you are granted $150 per month, you can spend that in Azure however you would like. Go crazy, invite the neighbors over, and tear up the lawn. No more getting a free allocation for a service you don’t even need. You can spend it based on what works best for you. Use of this free credit is for dev and test scenarios only.

How  much do you get?

The first month after activating your MSDN Azure benefits, you will receive a $200 credit. After that, each month you will receive a credit based on your subscription level. Full details are here.

MSDN Level

Windows Azure Credits 
per month







Visual Studio Professional, Premium and Ultimate with MSDN subscribers who activate and use their Windows Azure MSDN benefit before September 30th, 2013 are also automatically entered into a sweepstakes for a chance to win an Aston Martin V8 Vantage sports car!

4- Additions to the support VPN devices list. VPN devices from F5, Citrix and WatchGuard are now supported for point-to-site networking, in addition to already supported devices from Cisco and Juniper.

5- New datacenters being developed. New investments including new global datacenters in China, Australia, and Japan, will help our customers to achieve global scale while continuing to enable both developers and IT Pros to take full advantage of the benefits Windows Azure can provide. These regions include: Japan East (Tokyo), Japan West (Kansai), Australia-New South Wales (Sydney), Australia-Victoria (Melbourne), and China.

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Published at DZone with permission of Brian Prince, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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