After Google and Amazon slash their cloud prices, Microsoft follows suit

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

Microsoft has announced price cuts on its compute facility by up to 35% and its storage by up to 65%, days after Google and Amazon Web Services did likewise.

Perhaps this is the least surprising news of the year – Amazon’s price cuts being the second least surprising. That said, everyone suspected Redmond’s cloud announcement wasn’t going to be just renaming Windows Azure to Microsoft Azure.

In a blog post, Azure general manager Stephen Martin outlined the price changes yet added there were two other key factors at play; innovation and quality.

“Innovation and quality will prove far more important than commoditisation of compute and storage,” he wrote. “Vendors will ultimately extol their track records for building and running services far more than their prices and SLAs.”

Regardless, even if the prices aren’t that important they’re being outlined here, being handily compared to the AWS stable through a series of tables, from virtual machines to memory-intensive instances and storage:

Even though the Block Blobs storage service is being slashed by up to 65%, it only matches AWS’ prices. The biggest cuts are in memory-intensive, with reductions up to 14% lower in specific regions.

This is news in itself: region-specific pricing is also new here. “We recognise that some workloads require specific placement while others are not as dependent on location,” Martin wrote, adding: “This approach will help customers save additional money for workloads that have deployment flexibility.”

Microsoft has a long standing commitment to matching AWS on pricing, so this news won’t come as a surprise. It’s certainly a three way low-end pricing war, but the question of where IBM fits into this won’t go away.

Re/code quotes SoftLayer CEO Lance Crosby on this: “From an IBM perspective we don’t want to be associated with being the low-cost leader in the cloud.” Certainly, one gets the impression that IBM’s overall portfolio – the patents, Watson, BlueMix – demands a more sophisticated outlook than that of their competitors.

Yet a lot of this is developer-based, and with Build just around the corner Martin was keen on getting the financials out of the way straight away.

“I’ve yet to meet a developer who travels just to hear about pricing updates, so you won’t see us take the stage at Build and use the opening moment to announce a price cut,” Martin added.

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