As part of today's announcement about the commercial availability of Windows Azure platform offers, we are also introducing updated pricing for the Windows Azure platform AppFabric, which helps developers connect cloud and on-premises applications. Based on discussion and feedback from hundreds of customers during the CTP process, we have made the pricing simpler and more predictable. Service Bus will now be priced at $3.99 per Connection-month, and Access Control will be $1.99 per 100,000 Transactions.

Last November at the 2009 Professional Developers' Conference, Microsoft announced a new product offering named AppFabric. AppFabric delivers services that enable developers to build and manage composite applications more easily for both server and cloud environments. The server components, known as Windows Server AppFabric, provide caching capabilities and workflow and service management capabilities for applications that run on-premises. The cloud components, known as Windows Azure platform AppFabric  (formerly called ".NET Services"),  include cloud-based services that help developers connect applications and services between Windows Azure, Windows Server and a number of other platforms. Windows Azure platform AppFabric is available as a production ready service today and includes two services: Service Bus, which makes it easier to connect applications and services in the cloud or on-premises, and Access Control, which provides federated authorization as a service.

SERVICE BUS PRICING

For Service Bus, the pricing meter has changed from "Message Operations" to "Connections". In many cases, each application instance that connects to the Service Bus will require just one Connection, which means that predicting your usage is often as simple as counting the number of application instances or devices that you need to connect. Whether your application requires two-way messaging, event distribution, protocol tunneling, or another architecture, the Connection-based model is designed to suit your business needs. Connections are charged at a rate of $3.99 per Connection per month (plus applicable data transfer charges), and will be billed on a pay-as-you-go, consumptive basis. Alternatively, for customers who are able to forecast their needs in advance, we offer the option to purchase "Packs" of Connections: a pack of 5 Connections for $9.95, a pack of 25 for $49.75, a pack of 100 for $199.00, or a pack of 500 for $995.00 per month (plus data transfer). Connection Packs represent an effective rate of $1.99 per Connection-month. Pack sizes larger than 500 may be available on request. In our FAQ, we provide more details on how Connections are defined, measured, and billed.

We expect that most customers will find this new meter to be simpler and more predictable. While the former Message Operations meter was well suited for uses such as discrete transactional messaging, it has been more complicated in other cases. For example, what happens if you want to stream a large file, tunnel a protocol persistently, or deploy a lot of devices that all "listen" idly all day? Knowing what gets counted as a message, and predicting usage from day to day, was difficult.

It turns out that our customers have all of those uses in mind, which is a good thing. Customers have asked for simpler pricing, and we are now able to deliver this for a wider range of uses, including streamed data, protocol tunneling, and transactional messaging. This new pricing structure will help make it easier for you to understand and control when and how many Connections are being used. In addition, it provides increased predictability, because under normal circumstances, your total Connection cost will stay the same whether you  generate more or less "message" volume from one month to the next.

ACCESS CONTROL PRICING

For Access Control, the pricing meter has changed from "Message Operations" to "Transactions". In practice, these meters are the same; only the name has been changed to reflect the Access Control function more accurately. As previously announced, token requests and service management operations will both be counted as Transactions, and charged at a rate of $1.99 per 100,000 Transactions.

AVAILABILITY

The Service Bus and Access Control are available today, however to give customers more time to adjust to the new pricing structure, charges will start to accrue in April, 2010. Usage until that time will be free of charge, so we encourage you to upgrade your account and sign up for an offer today. Starting today, customers can already take advantage of the same support and benefits provided across the Windows Azure platform.  SLAs will take effect when charges begin to accrue in April, 2010.  In order to help customers monitor and predict their usage before charges begin to accrue, Connection and Transaction usage reports will be made available soon on their developer portal at http://appfabric.azure.com/.

For more information, please visit our FAQ and pricing pages.