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Azure Subscriptions

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Microsoft Azure is a comprehensive collection of cloud-based services and features, ranging from Infrastructure as a Service virtual machines to Software as a Service offerings, such as Office 365. Using Azure subscriptions, businesses can choose which Azure services and features they want to deploy in the cloud. Prior to deployment to Azure, it is important to know how Microsoft bills for Azure services as well as what levels of support are provided.

This course provides an explanation of Azure subscriptions, the different types of subscriptions that are available, and the options available that can be used to save money in an Azure deployment. The course then focuses on Azure services, how they are priced and, where applicable, what metering costs are associated with the service, and how it is metered. This course also covers the Service Level Agreements that are available for some of the Azure services and the different levels of support that can be purchased. Lastly, it covers the Azure service lifecycle, including public and private previews of new services and features, and how you can be notified when they become available for preview.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand Azure subscriptions and subscription types
  • Understand Microsoft’s Azure pricing
  • Plan and manage costs associated with subscriptions
  • Understand Azure support options
  • Understand Microsoft’s Service Level Agreements
  • Understand Azure’s service lifecycle

Intended Audience

  • Sellers or purchasers of cloud-based solutions and services
  • Individuals preparing for Microsoft’s Azure AZ-900 exam


  • Basic understanding of cloud computing
  • Experience with Azure, while not required, will be helpful

In order to take advantage of Azure's cloud-based services, you must have a subscription. It serves as a single billing unit for Azure resources in that services used in Azure are billed to a subscription. An Azure subscription is linked to a single account, the one that was used to create the subscription and is used for billing purposes. Within the subscription, resources can be provisioned as instances of the many Azure products and services. 

There are three main types of subscriptions available, free, pay-as-you-go, and member offers. The free account is a subscription that provides unlimited access to Azure resources with a $200 credit that can be applied to paid products. At the end of the trial period, any Azure services created with the subscription are disabled, unless the subscription is upgraded to a paid subscription. Free accounts require a credit card, used for identification purposes only. You can apply for a free account at this URL (https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/free/).

The pay-as-you-go subscription (https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/offers/ms-azr-0003p/) lets you pay for the services and resources that you use on a monthly basis. A credit or debit card must be attached to the account and billing for this account is on a monthly basis. Free Azure accounts can be converted to pay-as-you-go accounts. 

There are many types of member offers (https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/support/legal/offer-details/) from Microsoft that offer reduced rates for Azure services, like MSDN Platform subscribers and Visual Studio subscribers just to name a few. These types of subscriptions offer substantial discounts over a pay-as-you-go subscription, so it is highly recommended that businesses review and take advantage of any offers for which they may qualify. Current offers can be found at this URL. 

You can have more than one subscription, and many organizations do, often for billing purposes, since each subscription generates its own set of billing reports and invoices. Or, separate subscriptions can be used simply to isolate the development and testing environment from production. The person who creates an Azure subscription becomes the global administrator for that subscription and has full access to every aspect of that subscription, but only that subscription. So, separate subscriptions can also be a way to create a division of responsibility for Azure services.

About the Author

Jeff is a technical trainer and developer residing in Arizona, USA. He has been a Microsoft Certified Trainer for the past 18 years, providing in-house development and training on Microsoft server operating systems, PowerShell, SQL Server and Azure.  When he’s not developing and delivering courses on Azure, he’s photographing galaxies, nebulae and star formations from his computer-automated observatory in Chino Valley, Arizona using a 14” Schmidt Cassegrain telescope.