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Selecting a Pricing Tier in Azure: The Free Tier

Selecting a Pricing Tier in Azure: The Free Tier

Per Microsoft, "Azure is a growing collection of integrated cloud services that developers and IT professionals use to build, deploy, and manage applications through our global network of data centers." There are tons of services and features to consider when making a decision about what might be right for your needs.

We have already explored the importance of SQL Database DTUs and how you should not Forget About Bandwidth when selecting your pricing tier for Azure. Next up, it's time to check out the Azure free tier!

In addition to offering a one-month free trial, Microsoft offers a number of free Azure services on an ongoing basis. These services are great for development environments, low usage requirements, or just trying something out.

App Service

Azure App Service is a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering for hosting web and mobile apps. With the free tier, you can host up to 10 apps in Azure.

While you can’t use these with your own domain name (the site URL will end in azurewebsites.net), and your website will run in a shared instead of a dedicated environment, the free tier does give you 1 GB of storage and SSL support.

The free App Service tier is useful for development or lightly used apps that don’t need a custom domain name.

Data Factory

Azure Data Factory is a great tool for loading, transforming, and moving data. The free tier gives you five activities a month.

The free tier of Data Factory is beneficial for testing or if you have data pipelines that only need to be run infrequently.

IoT Hub

The Azure IoT Hub is a central component of IoT solutions based on Azure. The free tier of the IoT hub lets you manage up to 10 devices and allows up to 8000 messages per day.

The free tier of IoT Hub is enough to start developing or testing an IoT solution or to monitor a handful of devices in the field.

Machine Learning

The free tier of Azure Machine Learning allows you to build models and experiments to analyze your data, with restrictions on experiment duration and storage space. The free tier does lack the ability to productize your models into a Web API. 

The free tier is perfect for getting started with Machine Learning.

Notification Hub

Per Microsoft, "Azure Notification Hubs provide an easy-to-use, multi-platform, scaled-out push engine. With a single cross-platform API call, you can easily send targeted and personalized push notifications to any mobile platform from any cloud or on-premises backend."

Notification Hub eliminates complexities that go along with enabling push yourself.

The free tier of the Azure Notification Hub lets you send up to 1 million push notifications per month.

Scheduler

The Azure Scheduler is a service that can call web services or post messages to storage queues on a scheduled basis. Per Microsoft, with the Scheduler, you can, "create, update, delete, view, and manage jobs and job collections programmatically, by using scripts, and in the portal."

The free tier gives you up to 3600 executions per month.

In the free tier, executions can happen at most on an hourly basis. Additionally, the free tier does not support outbound authentication.

Additional Free Tier Services

On top of the services highlighted above, Azure also offers free tiers of the following services:

Final Thoughts

There are a few things to keep in mind when using the free tiers of Azure services:

  1. You still pay for outbound bandwidth after the first 5 GB (across all services in your subscription).
  2. The free tiers do not come with a Service Level Agreement (SLA), so if service availability is important, the free tiers may not be right for you.

Learn more about our Microsoft Azure Cloud Solutions and Services.

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