Show me the money! (“Cloudy April” – Part 18)


Do I have your attention?


Need I say more?


Oh.. okay.  One of the big concerns that people have when considering Windows Azure as a PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) is…

Cloudy TCO“Security”

Okay.. yeah.. that’s their first concern.  But after that, it’s..

“How much will it cost?”

Exactly.  Fortunately there is a site and a tool that can help you out if you’re planning a big migration or new project and whether or not hosting it on the Windows Azure platform will make $en$e. 

The TCO and ROI Calculator – found at – is the tool I’m talking about.  Basically, the tool lets you define your application.. and various parameters such as how many people do you have working on the project, and how much they cost-per-hour.. and what kind of an application it is.. and what sort of server resources do you think you’ll need.  And the tool spits out estimates of how much it will cost you over various periods of time if you were to do it yourself and host it in your own datacenter.

“But how does this tool know how much I’m going to spend on hardware?”

That’s one of the benefits of this tool.  You can tweak the assumptions on what things cost, so that it can be as accurate as possible to your real-world situation.

And once you’re done with that part, the fun starts.  That’s when the tool shows you just what it would cost you to do the same project using Windows Azure.  Again, there are assumptions about the kinds of services you’ll need, and you can tune them to be more appropriate to your needs; but once you’re done, you’ll have a pretty clear picture of the costs.

“And I suppose doing it with Windows Azure is always going to be cheaper.”

I honestly don’t know.  I suppose if you have some really inexpensive hardware, or a situation that doesn’t require much additional up-front hardware or datacenter costs, that you might make out better doing it yourself (assuming money is already spent).  But even if it’s close, you still have to figure the benefits of using a truly dynamic and scalable platform have to count for something; as opposed to a finite set of hardware in your own datacenter that is either sitting idle, or is over-burdened to the detriment of performance. 


Try it out.

And if you’re really interested in a good read around “the economics of the cloud”, you’ll definitely want to check out my blog post about an excellent write-up on the subject.

Have you used the Windows Azure TCO Calculator?  Are you working right now to consider whether a move to a PaaS solution is the best for your next big application?  Let us know in the comments. 

And tomorrow’s part 19 will be all about my favorite conference of the year.

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