Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Learning Azure on Your Own Dime - Extremely Expensive

OK, I am completely sold on The Cloud, and specifically on PaaS. I am ready to go use it, especially Azure since I like Microsoft stack and tools, despite AWS being more popular and having more features (we, artisans ;-) develop stronger connection with our tools and techniques, than craftsmen or business people.) I started learning Azure, got the account, a VM, Azure SDK, developed an interesting testing-the-waters project - the Azure Storage Queue multicaster, similar to ESB topics.

My first Azure bill, despite MSDN subscription was above $150. I run a 24/7 application server on a slow VM there, where majority of the cost comes from, but small experiments, like with the VPN for example, added $25 before I noticed that it's really expensive. That was unpleasant.

Now, I want to experiment with something other than what I can run on local Azure simulator (Tables, Blobs and Queues). I would like to play with ESB, API Management, DocumentDB and just about everything else, but I am really concerned about how much cost I am going to incur by using each part of the stack, especially if I forget to power everything down on Azure for a night. The point is, my impression is that simple poking around and learning Azure stuff is rife with unpleasant and costly surprises. All these risks and impediments combine into a single big turn off for a potential Azure developer.

With Azure lagging in adoption behind AWS, slapping down even dedicated fans like myself, means that Microsoft is very unlikely to ever catch up with AWS. "Developers! Developers! Developers!" indeed. I know it is possible to plan the cost ahead using complex Excel spreadsheet, and there is an almost-meaningless 30-day free trial (learn new enterprise OS in 30 days, really??), but all these impediments add up to one huge fogget-bout-it!

Here's what Microsoft could do to make it easy for me to learn Azure: create closed-off sand-box on Azure infrastructure, inaccessible from the outside, but make all Azure stack technologies and components available there for free to all MSDN subscribers. Let us play with and learn Azure for free, and charge us only when our wares is made available public. That would be a huge differentiator for Azure.

If you agree with the statement above, talk at Microsoft about this.

But while Microsoft is ignoring us, I decided to do my part, in the upcoming weeks and months will do public service so to speak, and will pay out of my pocket for learning Azure, and will blog about my experience, including costs. I will tag those posts with "azure" and "paas". Follow this blog to take pleasure in my future misfortunes on the path of conquering Azure.

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