Microsoft's Azure Cosmos DB dips toe in serverless waters with pay-as-you-go preview

You're only billed for what you use, so keep an eye on those numbers, OK?

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Microsoft has continued attempts to lure developers to its Azure Cosmos DB NoSQL service with the arrival of consumption-based billing.

Now in preview, Azure CosmosDB Serverless uses the customer's Azure credit card in consumption-based fashion, only charging for the Request Units used and storage consumed rather than requiring customers commit to an amount of provisioned throughput, which will show up at the end of the billing period.

With the serverless option, a customer is simply charged for what is actually used.

The move makes the platform a better proposition for those wishing to having a tinker with the technology, such as developers prototyping a whizzy new application. However, one will need to keep an eye on consumption to avoid a nasty shock when the bill comes in.

There are some gotchas. The technology is currently in preview so not suitable for production work and only the Azure Cosmos DB Core (SQL) API is supported. The serverless account can only run in a single Azure region and existing accounts cannot be migrated to or from serverless mode.

While the preview isn't backed up by a Service Level Agreement (SLA), once generally available the uptime is expected to be 99.9 to 99.99 per cent, which compares a little unfavourably with the potential 99.999 per cent for provisioned throughput. The latter also does not have the maximum storage of 50GB and 5,000 Request Unit/second throughput per container limit of the serverless option.

Serverless Cosmos DB support for the APIs for MongoDB, Gremlin, Table and Cassandra is listed as "coming soon."

The consumption-based option joins the free tier that turned up earlier this year. The free tier makes the first 400 RU/s and 5GB of storage free per month but is currently restricted to provisioned throughput mode only.

Two varieties of provisioned throughput are also available, autoscale (formerly known as autopilot), requiring a minimum of 4,000 RU/s to be provisioned, and standard, which requires a minimum of 400 RU/s.

For those that like to spread their NoSQL around a bit, the Azure-only Cosmos DB faces some competition in the managed space in the form of DataStax's Astra (running Cassandra) and MongoDB's Atlas, both of which boast global scale and an alternative cloudy platform to Microsoft's finest. ®

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