The top questions I get about the Azure Services Platform are about pricing and availability. While exact details have not been announced, there are some guidelines that can help ISVs in early decision making about adopting the new cloud platform. The details are provided on the Azure Services Platform Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.

ISVs can develop on the platform. Users purchase an ISV application and pays you through your own licensing and pricing model. For you to get an idea of how that will work, the site describes Azure Services Pricing.

Pricing

The site explains:

Subject to certain limits, Azure Services will be available without charge during our Community Technology Preview (CTP). Once Microsoft Azure launches for commercial use, we will offer a portfolio of services and you will be billed according to your actual consumption of each service. Based on feedback during the CTP period, pricing offers may be provided based on the following parameters.

  • Windows Azure - Compute and Storage services
  • .NET Services - Access Control, Service Bus, and/or Workflow Services
  • SQL Services- Database service for LOB applications
  • SharePoint Services (future) - SharePoint components that developers can utilize and build into their application

Monitoring agents in the Azure platform will measure specific resource utilization. However, no specific pricing or consumption models will be announced until we have received sufficient input from the user community and partners during the CTP period. This will include:

  • CPU time, measured in CPU-hours
  • Bandwidth for ingress/egress from the data center, measured in GBs
  • Storage, measured in GBs
  • Transactions, measured as requests likes Gets & Puts

Availability

Many of the services are available today. You don't even need an account to get started. You can build on your local computer using the Azure Services SDK. And you can Register to try the CTP.

Azure Services are currently to be available in the second half of calendar year 2009 according to the site. 

Getting Started

To get started:

  1. Read the White Paper that describes the architecture.
  2. Get the Azure Services SDK that you are interested in. The services are mix and match based on your application needs.
  3. Get the Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio, if you're working with Windows Azure.
  4. Get the Windows Azure Training Kit.
  5. Dive in.

There are SDKs for Java and Ruby developers too.

The Azure Services Training Kit will include a comprehensive set of technical content including samples, demos, hands-on labs, and presentations that are designed to help you learn how to use the Azure Services Platform. This initial PDC Preview release includes the hands-on labs that were provided at the PDC 2008 conference. These labs cover the broad set of Azure Services including Windows Azure, .NET Services, SQL Services, and Live Services. Additional content will be included in future updates of this kit.