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InfoQ Homepage News What’s in a Name? Change in Windows Azure Billing Portal Causes Confusion

What’s in a Name? Change in Windows Azure Billing Portal Causes Confusion

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This week, Microsoft notified its customers that it was re-naming all of the services that comprise the Windows Azure cloud offering. Confusion ensued as some wondered if Microsoft was abandoning the Azure branding, but subsequent information revealed that this change was solely related to customer billing and that the Windows Azure name was staying put.

Windows Azure is the umbrella name for a diverse set of scalable cloud products from Microsoft. Windows Azure includes infrastructure services such as storage, and platform services that offer capabilities such as application integration and application hosting. In this week’s message to customers, Microsoft used the following table to describe the simplified naming for its cloud services.

Prior Service Name

New Service Name

Windows Azure Compute Cloud Services
Windows Azure Platform – All Services All Services
Windows Azure CDN CDN
Windows Azure Storage Storage
Windows Azure Traffic Manager Traffic Manager
Windows Azure Virtual Network Virtual Network
AppFabric Cache Cache
AppFabric Service Bus Service Bus
AppFabric Access Control Access Control
SQL Azure SQL Database
SQL Azure Reporting Services SQL Reporting

This message caused some to conclude that Microsoft was distancing itself from the Azure brand. Noted Microsoft-focused journalist Mary Jo Foley wrote a story speculating about the motives of name change and made multiple revisions to this article as more information poured in. Foley received an initial response from a Microsoft spokesperson that didn’t actually address the confusion.

A Microsoft spokesperson responded with this statement: “Microsoft continues to invest in the Windows Azure brand and we are committed to delivering an open and flexible cloud platform that enables customers to take advantage of the cloud. We have no additional information to share at this time.”

That statement was later replaced with a more direct response.

A Microsoft spokesperson asked me to replace the original statement with a more direct one: “Today we informed customers that we simplified the naming of services in our billing statements. This does not affect the Windows Azure brand or name.”

The official Twitter account for Windows Azure later made a clarifying remark that also stated that the change was purely for billing purposes. Eric Boyd, a Microsoft MVP for Windows Azure, wrote a blog post that included further analysis and discouraged overreaction.

Nowhere in the email was there mention of the Windows Azure name going away, in fact Windows Azure was used eight times in the email excluding the previous table. However, social media and bloggers have developed a conspiracy theory that the Windows Azure brand is history. I would suggest that they completely missed the forest for the trees. If you look at the Prior Service Names for the Windows Azure Platform services, they fall into three major buckets, Windows Azure, AppFabric and SQL Azure. In the New Service Names, there is no mention of those three.

I would suggest that instead of this being a move to deprecate the Windows Azure brand, this might be a move to reduce confusion and consolidate more on the Windows Azure name.

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