Microsoft decides it's done with Azure egress ransoms

Cloud exit toll booth bypass built by EU regulators

Microsoft on Wednesday said it will no longer charge customers an egress fee to remove their data from its Azure cloud, following similar declarations earlier this year from Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google.

"We support customer choice, including the choice to migrate your data away from Azure," the company said in a blog post. "Azure now offers free egress for customers leaving Azure when taking their data out of the Azure infrastructure via the internet to switch to another cloud provider or an on-premises data center."

Microsoft's support for customer choice coincides with the pending enforcement of the European Data Act’s provisions targeting contractual terms that limit competition through lock-in. Those rules are set to take effect in September, 2025.

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority has also investgated egress fees to address competition concerns.

Naveen Chhabra, principal analyst at research firm Forrester, told The Register that this announcement is similar to what AWS said last week.

"It’s the (European Data Act) hammer behind hyperscaler’s change of heart to allow its clients to move out without paying data egress charges," he said.

Google said it would waive cloud egress fees in January, though only for customers canceling their account. AWS took a similar step last week, noting that unlike Google it's not requiring account cancellation.

Microsoft also has a cancellation requirement for moving data out of Azure: "You must cancel all Azure subscriptions associated with your account after your data is transferred out before you can request your invoice-level credit."

Chhabra argues there's more marketing in the move than substance, given that egress fees matter only to a small portion of the customer base. In scenarios where a customer might want one cloud provider to serve as a failover for another, egress fees would still apply, he said.

A recent blog post about the AWS announcement that Chhabra co-authored with other Forrester analysts makes the point more specifically: "For many, this serves more as marketing that might check some boxes in an RFP or even to meet portability requirements outlined in the US Department of Defense’s Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability policies."

That is to say, it's not just EU and UK rules that these companies have in mind.

Asked about Microsoft's egress enlightenment, Corey Quinn, chief cloud economist at The Duckbill Group, said, "It’s marketing [that] makes new customers feel better. Wildly expensive egress mostly hurts ongoing usage; nobody stays locked in because of egress."

Quinn suggested a scenario in which an AWS customer wants to use a data lake in Azure. "That’s going to get expensive on the Azure side, to the point where you either do the compute in Azure, or move / copy the data to AWS."

The relaxation of egress fees won't matter, he said, because you'd have to close your Azure account or at least stop using it as you had been to qualify for free egress. Regulators, he suggested, are aiming at the wrong target by focusing on egress fees. ®

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