My thoughts on recently changes in Windows Azure Mobile Services

Let me start by apologising for the noise I have been making – especially on twitter – I think I lost a few followers but I believe its a worthy cause to fight for. There’s still 28 days to go before the changes are enforced and I will continue being vocal and will try to engage the Azure team.

Last August Windows Azure Mobile Services were announced. You can read Scott Guthrie’s blog post about it. I to an extent agree with Scott’s statement “provides a super productive way for you to build out your app ideas”. Specifically it make it easy to expose your data in easy to use REST API form. Not just that, the wrappers make it super easy to query, insert, update data etc. In its early for (Preview), it gave Azure users 10 free mobile service instances.

Of course free doesn’t mean fully free and do whatever you please. It had a catch – you need to use Sql instance and having said that, you need to pay for Sql – fair enough. Over and above that, the free instances had a 165 MB / per day making it approximately 5GB per month of outgoing data. Finally since you are a leecher, the service will be on a VM which will share resources with other services. If you like what you see, you scale your services by first opting into Reserved instance (monthly payment) and then set the instance count (more money). This all makes perfect sense. Monetization when you need to use beyond basics.

Since that day substantial resources have been spent highlighting the mobile services and how you can get started using 10 Free Windows Azure Mobile Services. Hell, we at London Windows Store App Developer Group even had a session on the same. Now I don’t have any access to any statics of usage during preview mode so next paragraph is pure speculation.

A majority of WAMS users opted to use Free instance paying for Sql only. A few (Rowi and a few others maybe) required scaling and went the reserved instance mode. however majority of users stayed well away from paying too much – human nature.

So after almost a full year, Windows Azure announced public release of Windows Azure Mobile Services and Windows Azure Web Sites. As a part of that, they added SLA – a full 99.9% and added tiers to WAMS and make it flexible in terms on what costs how much

A tiny line that escaped most people was “Up to 100 Active Devices” – for the free tier. And by active they unique  devices accessing services in the last 30 days (including today).

Of course we were all notified by email and we’re not told of the 100 device cap.

So what happens next. Under the terms of use, the team reserves the right to suspend a service for reasons above and beyond nonuse or inactivity. The way I see it, most users will get an email at some point saying your usage of Free is unacceptable according to T & Cs. Pay up or lose your service. Some will pay up, some will work their way around it and others will just wrap up. This is (NOT) fantastic news for Windows Phone and Windows 8 developers out there.

All is not lost – I have created a user voice issue on azure uservoice (not Azure Mobile services uservoice – didn’t think of looking for that – stupid me). I am working hard to ensure that developers are made aware of this change and I am trying hard to get Azure team to acknowledge the issue at hand.

http://www.mygreatwindowsazureidea.com/forums/34192-windows-azure-feature-voting/suggestions/4134596-100-device-limit-is-very-limiting-for-free-tier-on

Please upvote the issue. Its only 3 votes and you can choose to reduce / remove votes later – you get those back when the issue is acknowledged.

Update: I forgot to mention that Azure Websites has 10 free option as well and there have been no changes there.

Update 2: Over the coming days, I will share details on possible work around should you wish to run as far away from WAMS as possible

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