It was only a couple of months ago that Azure picked up a number of new reservation plans with significant discounts for those prepared to pre-pay for one or three years of cloud services from Microsoft. While this may have been good news for incoming or renewing Azure customers over that period, it appears that there is a forthcoming change to billing that could make budgeting a bit more challenging for those in Australia.
According to an iTnews article, Microsoft has confirmed that it will begin pegging its Azure pricing against the US dollar commencing November 1st. New Azure customers will be billed in accordance with this change while existing customers will progressively be moved over. The Redmond giant will aggregate customer's billing in US dollars and then apply Thomson Reuters benchmark rates as of the first day of the month to calculate the final bill in Australian dollars.
The move is designed to bring about global pricing harmonisation for Azure cloud services while starting to deal with situations where buying Azure services in one region was more cost-effective than another due to delays in updating local pricing. However, the issue for customers down under is that the Aussie dollar has been sliding in value against the greenback for the last two years, peaking at around US$0.81 in January 2018 compared to US$0.68 as of the time of writing. Should this trend continue, Australian companies may more closely examine opportunities for hedging to buffer against less favourable exchange rates.
It remains to be seen as to what sort of impact this change will end up having in the Australian market, how local businesses respond to the change, and if this makes Microsoft's cloud competition ends up looking more attractive given the current financial climate.