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Microsoft Cloud Hosting Services Explained

Posted by QuoteColo on February 20, 2015 - Updated on February 20, 2015

Microsoft Cloud Hosting Services Explained

What do you know about the Microsoft Azure platform? We would wager if we asked you about the Amazon EC2 platform, the Google Compute Engine platform or the RackSpace cloud hosting platform, you would have more than a cursory knowledge of their respective cloud platforms.

But what do you know about the Microsoft Azure platform? Outside of equating Microsoft Azure with the only cloud platform to wholly host a large scale co-gaming experience, could you name their general purpose cloud servers or their memory intensive cloud servers? Moreover, what do you know about the scalability of the Microsoft Azure cloud platform? Anything?

For this reason, we are going to use this space to teach you about the Microsoft Azure platform.

1.    TitanFall and Microsoft Azure Cloud Platform Reliability

First things first, the one thing you may know about the Microsoft Azure cloud platform is that it is the only platform to host a fully immersive, co-op battle intensive gaming experience without the pitfalls of games like SimCity, Diablo III and Battlefield 4. What you might not know is how important the Microsoft Azure cloud platform it to the success of TitanFall. As noted in a series of articles by the tech blog Engadget, one of the team members behind TitanFall credited the Microsoft cloud platform with allowing the game to run on “servers with a significant amount of CPU power and bandwidth” which he credited as being absolutely essential to the gaming experience.

As noted by Engadget on March 10, 2014:

“Because TitanFall‘s advanced AI is handled by the Azure servers, your Xbox’s or PC’s innards can be used to achieve more detailed graphics and the game’s silky-smooth frame rate. The Titan bodyguards, dropships and legions of AI-controlled combatants are essentially free from a processing-power standpoint.”

All of this is credited to the ability of Microsoft Azure data centers to lower ping rates and nearly make latency an unnoticeable aspect of large scale cooperative gaming. To ensure lower than normal latency rates, TitanFall relies on a large scale network of Microsoft Azure regional cloud data centers which provide:

“clean, semi-local connection points between your console and the server where it connects. Naturally, the lower your ping is, the better; most PC games try to select servers that have a ping of 100ms or less…when Respawn’s {the company behind TitanFall} offices in Los Angeles connect to the Azure data center in San Francisco, the average ping is 19ms to 20ms.”

The specific reason why TitanFall has proved a success is the regional Microsoft Azure cloud platform data centers spread throughout the world. To prove the point, TitanFall did not release in Southern Africa where they knew regional data center connection points to lower ping rates would be an issue.

“By taking advantage of Microsoft’s servers, the futuristic shooter benefits from more reliable bandwidth, snappier matchmaking times, extra CPU power and the elimination of latency-based host advantage and hacked-host cheating, to boot.”

But why are we telling you this? The answer is simple: regional data centers speak to the overall powerful, flexibility, scalability and reliability of the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.

2.    Microsoft Azure Cloud Server Scalability and TitanFall

The ability to scale is vital to every online business. When peak demand rushes through your ecommerce platform, your company depends on its cloud provider to ensure enough servers are spun up to handle the increased peaking load.

Currently, the Microsoft Azure marketing content highlights Azure scalability as a technology which allows users to:

“Develop, package, and deploy powerful applications and services to the cloud with Azure Cloud Services and the click of a button. Scale from 1 to 1000 in minutes. Once your application is deployed, that’s it: From provisioning, to load-balancing, to health monitoring, Azure handles the rest. Your application is backed by an industry-leading 99.95% monthly SLA.”

The basic marketing pitch of Microsoft Azure is that their cloud platform enables the creation of highly-available, infinitely-scalable applications and APIs. While this speaks more towards the developer working with PaaS to create custom applications, the idea carries over to the business world in terms of scaling for peak traffic.

The correlation to TitanFall can be seen in the amount of players the TitanFall network has at any given moment. Ranging from anywhere between 2,500 and 100,000 players at a time the TitanFall network represents the almost daily instant scalability required by Microsoft Azure. As such, it is safe to say if you operate an ecommerce for a SMB who routinely gets 1,000 visitors a day and maxes out at peak seasons around 10,000 visitors per day, the Microsoft Azure cloud platform will be able to scale instantly to meet your needs.

But down to hard numbers. What are the Microsoft Azure cloud server packages and how much do they cost?

3.    Microsoft Azure Cloud Server Pricing


Much like the Amazon EC2 and the Google Compute Engine, the Microsoft Azure cloud platform has multiple resource intensive servers to choose from matched with per hour and per month pricing models.

To make it easy for the average business owner to make a choice on what server they should utilize, the Azure platform splits its servers into A-series and D-series servers. Both series span general purpose servers, memory intensive servers and compute intensive servers.

General Purpose Servers, A & D Series

General purpose Azure servers are meant for websites, small-to-medium databases and other everyday applications.


A0: 0 CPU Cores, 0.75 GB RAM, 19 GB Disk Space – $0.02/hour or $15/month

A1: 1 CPU Core, 1.75 GB RAM, 224 GB Disk Space – $0.08/hr or $60/month

A2: 2 CPU Cores, 3.5 GB RAM, 489 GB Disk Space – $0.16/hour or $119/month

A3: 4 CPU Cores, 7 GB RAM, 999 GB Disk Space – $0.32/hour or $238/month

A4: 8 CPU Cores, 14 GB RAM, 2,039 GB Disk Space – $0.64/hour or $476/month

The difference between A-series and D-series Azure cloud servers is the D-series feature 60% faster CPU’s, more memory and local SSD. According to Microsoft, D-series feature solid state drives (SSDs) and faster processors than the A-series. D-series are also available for web or worker roles in Azure Cloud Services. This series is ideal for applications that demand faster CPUs, better local disk performance, or higher memories.”


D1: 1 CPU Core, 3.5 GB RAM, 50 GB Disk Space – $0/171/hour or $127/month

D2: 2 CPU Cores, 7 GB RAM, 100 GB Disk Space – $0.342/hour or $254/month

D3: 4 CPU Cores, 14 GB RAM, 200 GB Disk Space – $0.684/hour or $509/month

D4: 8 CPU Cores, 28 GB RAM, 400 GB Disk Space – $1.368/hour or $1,018/month

The second layer of Azure cloud servers are memory intensive. They are recommended for use for large databases, SharePoint server farms and high-throughput applications.

The largest memory intensive A-series is the A7.

A7: 8 CPU Cores, 56 GB RAM, 2,039 GB Disk Space – $1.41/hour or $1,049/month

The largest memory intensive D-series is the D14.

D14: 16 CPU Cores, 112 GB RAM, 800 GB Disk Space – $2.611/hour or $1,943/month

The third layer of Azure cloud servers are compute intensive. They are recommended for message passing interface applications, high-performance clusters, modeling and simulations, video encoding and other computer or network intensive scenarios. Compute intensive severs are available in select Azure data centers and they add 400Gbit/s InfiniBand network with remote direct memory access technology. Azure compute intensive cloud servers are only available in the A-series.

A8: 8 CPU Cores, 56 GB RAM, 1,777 GB Disk Space – $2.45/hour or $1,823/month

A9: 16 CPU Cores, 112 GB RAM, 1,777 GB Disk Space – $4.90/hour or $3,646/month

It should be noted, all figures financial figures provided by the Azure cloud platform are based on 744 of use per month, or 24 of use per day.

To more accurately sum up your total estimated monthly cost, Azure cloud platform supplied consumers with a pricing calculator. For example, if you were to operate an A-series A4 for four hours per day and three days per week, you would pay $122.88/month sans taxes. This breaks down to $2.56/hour, $10.24/day, $30.72/week and $122.88/month.

As a line of comparison, if you were to operate that specific A4 server for four hours a day, every day of the week, you would pay $2.56/hour, $61.44/day and $1,904.64/month based on a 31 day calendar month.

To get a better idea of your cost estimate using the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, check out their pricing calculator:

Now the question you have to ask yourself is what solution works best for you? When compared to the Amazon EC2 platform or the Google Compute Engine cloud server platform, does the Microsoft Azure platform make sense for your finances and your resource needs?

The truth is while the scalability and reliability of the Microsoft Azure cloud platform is rock solid, you will be able to find likewise if not better packages with Amazon and Google. This being said, you need to make a choice for your business and see what works best.

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