Startups with ASP.Net MVC 3 and MS SQL


We were thinking of starting a Web Startup using the technologies C#,Asp.Net MVC 3 and Sqlserver. We have heard a lot of talk about "cost" when it comes to using Microsoft technologies for a startup and have read many blogs trying to discourage from using MS techhnologies for a startup. All the alternate routes suggests Ruby on Rails, Python ,PHP etc.But, Me and my team's expertize are in C# , and MS SQL.

But since we now have Amazon Ec2 ,Azure,Appharbor etc, do we still need to worry about the cost to begin a web startup using Asp.Net MVC and MS SQL? We are even willing to consider MYSQL or MongoDB instead of MS SQL if that can help us reduce the cost.

Launch Startup Costs Microsoft

asked Jun 3 '12 at 11:05
138 points
  • Bizspark make all MS tech free for 3 years: what costs are you talking about? – Frenchie 11 years ago
  • I knew it was free for 3 yrs, but didnt know what happens after those 3 yrs.. – User636525 11 years ago
  • Most businesses fail in the first 3 years. So if you're able to get past the 3-year mark, it'll mean you'll have built a successful business and by then the cost of MS tech should (hopefully) only be a small line item in your operating expenses. Focus on the first 3 years, use the tools you know best so that you can iterate fast, and the rest will take care of itself. – Frenchie 11 years ago
  • Go for it!! We signed up with the Bizspark prog and had the same stack as you except that we used Mongo coz our app needed a NoSql solution. Bizspark is painless and we haven't had to pay anything. 15 months down, we were acquired. So in 3 years, you have either folded, gotten acquired or are making enough money that the $999 MSDN licensing costs are peanuts in comparison. – Saurabhj 11 years ago

3 Answers


If your expertise is with the MS stack then go with that. It makes no sense to try to learn a new set of tools and platforms when trying to execute a new business - there are enough things to keep you busy.

Look into the Bizspark program - it essentially allows you to use the MS platform for "free" the first 3 years.

The "cost" of the platform/technology stack is not just the licensing fees - it includes the training, learning, maintenance and the ability to hire people who know/learn the technologies.

If you become successful enough to have to pay the licensing costs then you can afford them.

answered Jun 3 '12 at 12:14
Tim J
8,346 points
  • I was trying to avoid the Bizspark program since i heard,after 3 years we have to start paying. So we were wondering if going with Appharbor or Azure is a better option ? – User636525 11 years ago
  • Why would you avoid a program that gives you something for free for 3 years? Azure is not free and the dev tools are MS products as well... – Tim J 11 years ago
  • Bizspark was created to level the playing fields for startups. Those free technologies are appealing even to startups with C# and MSSQL experience because of the reduced cost. Not using Bizspark is equivalent to saying we have money to burn and don't care about our costs. Bizspark is one the best programs MS has ever created. – Chris Kluis 11 years ago
  • In addition, BIzSpark - after 3 years you HAVE To pay. What is it - 100 USD (!). Whow. That really will brankrupt you after 3 years ;) And you keep the software. And move on with SPLA. – Net Tecture 11 years ago
  • Wow Are you sure its just 100$ after 3 yrs :) ? – User636525 11 years ago
  • The $100 is an "exit fee" from the program. Then you need to pay for the software. Note however that many participants received a waiver for that fee as well as waived fees for the software they were using from the MSDN subscription for the lifetime of the company. (development tools) – Tim J 11 years ago
  • Ah, no - you do not need. YOu get to keep all the software you got from BizSpark. YOu only need to pay for additional stuff. Reading is an art, I assume - after all, all the info is available for public, one just mustread it. Your "Waiver" is standard bizspark condition. I am not sure Azure is wise in general - I rather prefer low runnning costs and it is SO much more expensive than renting the hardware... – Net Tecture 11 years ago
  • @NetTecture I am not sure why you insist on insulting people, but regardless - what I read was that the policy may be changed and I was not going to state that all participants or future participants of BizSpark will always get the products for free. As for Azure - I doubt that your hardware rental has the capabilities of the Azure scaling and other services. To each his own. – Tim J 11 years ago
  • @TimJ , so are you saying if i have to save 500,000 word documents, each having a size of 100Kb max or less, Azure blob storage is the cheapest and better way to go ? Thanks ! – User636525 11 years ago
  • @user636525 - No, that is NOT what I am saying. My answer stated BizSpark - it said NOTHING about azure. Azure came up in comments. Azure makes sense if you expect to have to scale. Azure is FREE (for small instances) for BizSpark members. If your startup is generating revenue or if you need the space after that 3 years then it can pay for itself. If you got no users then at the end of 3 years you have nothing to pay for. – Tim J 11 years ago
  • Thanks for your comments TimJ! – User636525 11 years ago


We have heard a lot of talk about "cost" when it comes to using Microsoft technologies for a

There are a TON of idiots on this planet, and most people rambling about the cost fall into at least the category of people being ignorant (per the definition of the word - "lacking knowledge or training") torawrds the cost.

Point being, the costs are not really relevant in the larger picture. Let's leave out MS's own startup program (all you need for 3 years, the software stays yours afterwards and you pay 1000 USD or so AFTER 3 years).

SPLA means monthly payments, a Web edition Windows + a Web edition SQL Server are extremely low priced. If you move up the food chain, because you NEED it (i.e. you have more than a couple of sockets) then unless you are an idiot programmer, that is a LOT of processing power. I remember serving 400.000 VISITORS in an hour on a dual pentium with SQL Server; today with proper programming the limit is VERY high. And that is if you cannot use the free SQL Server, which already goes QUITE high.

Now, I am not saying it is free, but compare it to the running costs in general, and if it makes a significant difference, you have a problem. I am just renting a machine in Chicago - 4 cores, 16gb memory, 120gb SSD. Cost per month is in excess of 160 USD. Add Windows Standard (cannot use Web Edition as the apps there would not qualify per Web edition rules - this is an internal machine) is 20 or so USD per month. That is 12% of the server costs, including all updates (I rent monthly). Add some more for system control (SCOM). We talk of 30 USD totally, or so. 20% of server costs.

Now, here is the trick: The machine is the backbone of my business. It will, in half a year, get a mirror etc. I have 2 people working full time just to permanently develop software for it. The machine operations causes me external costs of about 300 USD per day. I pay 800 USD per month for the data on it. The 40 USD more for Windows DOES NOT SHOW UP. Lost in rounding.

Now, web apps are cheaper, but still. Given the cost for people, support etc. - if it makes a hugh difference you have a problem somewhere else.

Most people advising against Windows are either:

  • Die hard Linux (Windows is EVIL - regardless how senseless)
  • Cent-wise and pound-foolish - saving a cent to waste a pound. Can be because they lack the cent.
  • Ignorant to what the real costs are. Windows is SO expensive up front - where the up front costs are ZERO if you are an SPLA, and you better be one because otherwise hosting may be flat illegal (not covered by normal licensing). And SPLA is cheaper anyway.
  • Not specialized in Windows. If you know Ruby, but not MVC, then heck, that is the better way to go - after all, the OS costs are a lot less than the development costs.

Everyone else will tell you that yes, Windows costs money, but not in a level that will make a difference for your startup. It may even be better - I am not sure how good the Ruby tools are with stuff like proper profilers for memory and CPU utilization. It may well be those people just need large machines because they cannot write efficient code, lacking proper ways to find out where the code is slow ;)

So, here is your cost:

  • SQL Server = 0 for Express Edition; check SPLA pricing for Web edition if you MUST have that. 10gb per database is quite a lot unless you store text or binary data or high resolution financial data ;)
  • Windows Web Edition is - well....

I would be a lot more concerned about stuff like Amazon EC2 - the costs of that for anything but a trivial install are ridiculous. Talk cent-wise and pound-foolish... saving some small money for Windows, but wasting a lot for EC2.

Unless you have special needs, I would always start with my own servers. The moment you need more than a trivial amount of power... EC2 comes with a cost that is extreme. The moment you have some data, the costs are extreme. Cloud is a way to sell you virtual machines for a high price by the hour, instead by the month.

Go to a "real" VPS provider or rent a physical server. Compare the per monthly price with the per month price on Amazon and you will be shocked.

answered Jun 3 '12 at 15:23
Net Tecture
11 points
  • My web application requires each user to save atleast 1 word document.I will be saving just the text of the document in the database and was planning to save the document itself on Azure Blob Storage or now as QuaffAPint pointed out , in GridFs. I will need to store the text since i will have to allow them a full text search.Will this work? – User636525 11 years ago
  • SQL Server FIleStream data (read is up - it is a nice concept) does NOT count against the 10g size limit = SQL Server Express. SQL Server Web Edition is vrey cheap and the size limit non existent. Azuere BLob Storage wil kill you price wise. – Net Tecture 11 years ago


I'm working on one with and originally sql server. I have since moved to MongoDB (better fit for my needs, and better price :)). I plan on going with appharbor when I'm ready. In the end it may be a wee bit more, but I prefer working in .net, so why not use it.

answered Jun 3 '12 at 12:42
Quaff A Pint
126 points
  • My Site also needs to store word documents for each users,can i use Appharbor for that or use Azure Blob storage ? Thanks ! – User636525 11 years ago
  • +1 for gridFS ! – User636525 11 years ago
  • I wonder if anyone is storing 500,000 documents using GridFs :) – User636525 11 years ago

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