Azure Pricing and Support
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.
- 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
- 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
To achieve the best value from Azure resources, you'll need to identify all of the Azure resources that will be needed for your deployment. Once the resources have been identified, you can isolate the costs associated with each resource and how they are metered. The Azure price calculator, as mentioned previously, is an excellent tool for this purpose.
Another way to manage Azure costs is to use the Spending Limits feature that is available for free trial customers, as well as for some of the credit based subscriptions. With spending limits, once the limit has been reached, the Azure subscription is suspended until the beginning of the next billing cycle. Many subscription types, like the free account and MSDN subscription, have a spending limit that is automatically applied to the account. If the limit is reached prior to the end of the billing cycle, the spending limit can be changed. The options for changing the spending limit are: remove the spending limit indefinitely, remove the spending limit for the current billing period, or keep my current spending limit. This may not be suitable for production environments, but it can be useful for testing and development subscriptions.
Another way to track Azure cost is by using tags. Tags can be applied to Azure resources as a means of grouping them for things like cost tracking. Tags can be applied based on department, project, environment, or any other purpose. Each tag is a name-value pair, where the name defines the type or category of tag, and the value identifies a specific instance of that type. For example, a tag name could be department, and the value could be IT or development.
Another cost savings measure is to use Azure Reservations. An Azure reservation is simply paying in advance for specific products such as virtual machines, Azure Cosmos Databases, as well as other resources. Reservations can be for one year or three year periods and can provide cost savings of up to 72% over the pay as you go costs. Reservation discounts are only available for resources associated with enterprise, pay as you go, or CSP subscription types.
Azure Advisor is a tool built into the Azure portal that can be used to assist in managing Azure costs. The Advisor blade has four blades, high availability, security, performance, and cost. The cost blade redirects you to the Azure cost management tool in the portal. This tool provides insight into how well your resources are being utilized and identifies underutilized or unused resources. If you choose to follow the recommendations of the Azure Advisor, you can remove unused resources or configure through many resources to more closely match the actual demand for them. Additionally, the Azure cost management tool provides the ability to perform a cost analysis, set up budgets to control costs, and view cost alerts defined in your budget.
The Azure Cost Management Tool can be accessed from the Azure portal. I'll choose the Cost Management and Billing option from the left menu blade. Next, I'll click the banner that reads, "For more cost management and optimization capabilities, "try Azure Cost Management." For this demonstration, we'll choose cost analysis. So I'll click on Cost Analysis from the menu. This page displays a graphical representation of costs over time, by service name, by location, and by resource group. Hovering over the cost over the time graph, we can view the cost for any given day. Changing the month changes all of the graphs to reflect the expenses for that selected month. I can also change the view to display daily costs. Allowing me to quickly inspect expenses incurred on a daily basis. The bar graph displays different colors for each resource group. Hovering over the bar graph will reveal the expenses per resource group.
We can create a budget for our Azure expenses. I'll click on Budgets, and that takes us to the page that displays existing budgets and allows us to create new ones. I'll click Add, and I'll enter a name of production. I'll set the amount to $50. Then I'll scroll down and I'll configure an alert. I'll set it for 80% of the budget. Now, I need to configure an alert recipient. I'll check the box, and I'll enter an email address. And click create. Now I can click on my production budget, and I can see what the current spend is for this budget.
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.