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Licensing costs are not really an issue when you're on Azure. If your app ran fine under the BizSpark program subsidy of $150/month of azure credit then when you're out of the program you'd just have to pick up the $150/month hosting cost, not suddenly have to pay $15k+ for a MSSQL or Windows Server license.

I know that. I didn't make it explicit in my comment. The Microsoft tax I mentioned with Azure is the licensing costs. Microsoft isn't just going to give out SQL Server for free and just charge for the VMs and bandwidth. There is premium pricing for SQL Server and BizTalk and custom licensing pricing for SharePoint and Oracle software.

Being on Azure doesn't mean you get a break on the licensing costs. They just amortize the cost over the hour the VM is up.

EDIT: Fair point on the hosting cost being known and acceptable right from the start. I also don't mean to imply that you are not aware of the licensing costs, just wanted to make it clear. For real businesses, at some point it makes more sense to build their own "private cloud" and at this point these issues become relevant but for most start-ups, it's likely just not going to be an issue.

While SQL Server has and will continue to be an excellent technical option, the costs can be a drag.

That said, the work various .net-related people have out or are working on have the very real availability or promise to lift that dependency, if not provide portability, with DB choice. See RavenDB (document DB) & biggy (Postgres 1st class). Supporting this for more traditional takes on relational store is that there is increasing experience in the .net world for applying coding patterns that can help projects pivot/abstract out the data tool dependencies.

If you have a sensitivity in this area, there are options which, when calculated with the ancillary benefits of applying existing .net experience and the great MS free + cloud tools, would pan out very well for many problem spaces.

Obviously, YMMV, but if you are doing a wide spectrum of cloud + mobile, Azure is very compelling and Xamarin can become nearly as large a burden cost-wise. That total burden still can be extremely competitive and the ramp for existing .net shops a pretty clear winner. But being a C# developer has never been so promising - and it wasn't ever that awful to begin with.

If anything, the problem of coming from the old MS-dev platform-planning and having to understand the range of options and optimizing for costs around those is the weak spot.

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