Windows Azure Drive Hits Beta w/ ‘Page Blob’ technology

Microsoft has released a trial version of its Windows Azure Drive, a service that allows businesses to run their existing Windows applications in Microsoft’s cloud environment through standard Windows NTFS APIs.

Azure Drive stores data in what Microsoft calls “page blobs.” For the beta program, the company said it will bill customers “only for the storage space used by the Page Blob and the read/write transactions to the Page Blob,” according to a post Tuesday on Microsoft’s Windows Azure blog.

Azure, which went live Monday, marks Microsoft’s first plunge into cloud computing, a new-wave IT architecture in which businesses tap applications and data over the Web, rather than servers stored and maintained locally in a data center.

Microsoft is using a pay-as-you-go “consumption” option based on resource usage, and a “commitment” option that provides discounts for a six-month obligation.

In the standard plan, a virtualized Windows Server ranges from 12 cents to 96 cents per hour, depending on CPU usage. Storage starts at 15 cents per GB per month, plus one cent for every 10,000 transactions. Microsoft's SQL Server costs $9.99 per month for a 1 GB Web database.

via Windows Azure Drive Hits Beta — InformationWeek.