FINALLY, the news has broken about the new AD as a Service (ADAS for lack of a better acronym). I've known about this for some time, and have been eagerly awaiting the ability to comment. My immediate reaction is highly positive – it's a major missing bit of the Azure story. Azure customers I talk to want total flexibility in where to deploy servers – and often that means deploying them near to a DC/GC to handle authentication and other tasks. And while Azure AD was a nice feature to front end MS's Sass offerings, it really did not provide all the necessary features (not least of which are machine accounts, GPOs and of course OUs, the ability to support NTLM authentication and others).
But all that's changed – and we now have a fully fledged Active Directory cloud service. Like most of Azure, you pay for this service based on usage. Depending on the size of your deployment you'll pay anywhere from $US 37/month (for up to 5000 total AD objects) to $Us 297.60/month for up to 100,000 objects. A forth tier (more than 100,000 objects) is available but no pacing has been announced for this tier. During the current preview period, only the mid tier 5000 to 25,000 objects) is offered a a half price rate of $US 74.40/month.
There are two blog articles on the AD Team Blog which describe things in more detail. – you can see both at: http://blogs.technet.com/b/ad/archive/2015/10/14/azure-ad-domain-services-is-now-in-public-preview-use-azure-ad-as-a-cloud-based-domain-controller.aspx
This is a big new feature of Azure and I really look forward to seeing it in operation!