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- Hidden Azure Data Transfer Costs: Where They Come from and What to Do About Them
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The First Step to Saving on Azure
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Azure cost management is an important topic for anyone responsible for managing workloads in Azure. It is also the name of a free Azure service that helps visualize and forecast Azure costs, identify anomalies, and find optimization opportunities for Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) products in the Azure cloud.
In this post, we’ll explain what the Azure Cost Management service provides, how it works, and which other Azure services can help you understand and reduce your cloud costs. You can also learn more in our series of articles about cost management and optimization on Azure.
In addition, we’ll show how NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP can help reduce storage costs for your Azure deployments.
In this article, you will learn:
- What is the Azure Cost Management service
- Insights provided by Azure Cost Management
- Getting started with Azure Cost Management
- Additional Azure cost management tools
- Reducing Azure storage costs with Cloud Volumes ONTAP
- Read more about Azure cost management
What is the Azure Cost Management Service?
Azure Cost Management is provided as part of the Azure portal, and provides information about ongoing utilization and cost of your Azure services and Azure Marketplace offerings. The service can also monitor and provide insights into AWS usage and costs, in a multi-cloud setup.
Unlike billing reports, which tell you how much Azure is billing for each service, Cost Management reports help you understand your costs, identify spending anomalies, and find opportunities for optimization.
Key features of Azure Cost Management
- Always on—continuously monitors and reports on activity in Azure
- Integrates with Azure Advisor—displays tailored recommendations for price optimization, such as opportunities to move to reserved instances, rightsizing and idle resources.
- Customization—provides cost management APIs, allowing you to explore cost and usage data programmatically and create customized filters that let you create unique views of the data in your internal systems.
- BI integration—offers a Microsoft Power BI connector, letting you export cost and usage data to Power BI and perform in-depth BI analysis.
Azure Cost Management pricing
The service is offered free for Azure workloads. If you use it for AWS cost management, there is a charge of 1% of AWS monthly spend. Azure provides a 90 day free trial for new AWS connectors. Another way to analyze spend across multiple clouds is Cloudyn, an Azure service that provides cost insights across Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud (see Additional Azure Cost Management Tools below).
What Insights Does Azure Cost Management Provide?
Azure Cost Management allows you to set budgets for your Azure activity, and can answer questions like:
- What will our costs be for the current month? How much have we spent so far and are we on track to meeting our budget?
- Are any Azure services showing anomalous spend? If so, what is causing the anomaly and how can we resolve it?
- Why is the latest invoice different than we expected? Why did an Azure invoice exceed the expected amount, or why were specific services billed more or less than expected?
- How much should we bill to each department? If your organization charges back cloud costs to specific departments or groups, Cost Management can help you understand how much to charge each group based on their usage.
Getting Started with Azure Cost Management
In this section we’ll provide a taste of the types of information provided by Azure Cost Management, and some basic analyses you can perform.
The Azure Cost Management dashboard shows the following information:
- Accumulated costs for the current billing period, separated into actual amounts billed and a forecast for the rest of the billing period
- Actual spend vs the budget you defined
- Hover over a date to see spending for that day vs the relevant portion of the budget
- Customizable donut charts showing breakdown of spend into the biggest components
Azure Cost Management Dashboard:
You can switch from the default Accumulated Costs view to other views:
- Daily Cost—shows a daily breakdown and any bumps in daily spend over a selected period
- Cost Per Service—breakdown of your overall Azure costs per cloud service, such as Azure Blob Storage or Azure Kubernetes Service
- Cost Per Resource—breakdown of costs per specific resources, such as VMs, disks or databases
Daily Spend View:
To learn proven best practices that can help you optimize costs, many of which can be performed using insights from Azure Cost Management, refer to our article on Azure Cost Optimization.
Additional Azure Cost Management Tools
- Azure Advisor—provides specific recommendations for cost savings, customized for your Azure deployment. For example, Advisor can identify idle resources you should shut down to save costs, or VMs that have been running for months in a steady state, which you can switch to reserved instances.
- Azure Cost Calculator—allows you to input parameters like services required, number of VMs and data volumes, and get an estimate of your cloud costs. Also check out the NetApp Azure Calculator which provides deeper insights into storage costs and helps you compare Azure storage services.
- Azure Budgets—Azure lets you define budgets as an integral part of its resource management. You can set policies dependent on budgets, for example, you can decide to prevent resources from running or scaling up if they have exhausted their budget.
- Cloudyn—Cloudyn is a cloud cost management tool, which Microsoft acquired and integrated with Azure. It provides cost management capabilities across Azure, AWS and Google Cloud. Many of Cloudyn’s features have been ported into the Azure portal and Azure Cost Management, but recommendations related to Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) subscriptions (software licenses purchased through indirect Microsoft resellers) and AWS can only be found in Cloudyn.
Reducing Azure Store Costs with Cloud Volumes ONTAP
NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP, the leading enterprise-grade storage management solution, delivers secure, proven storage management services on AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. Cloud Volumes ONTAP supports up to a capacity of 368TB, and supports various use cases such as file services, databases, DevOps or any other enterprise workload, with a strong set of features including high availability, data protection, cloud automation, Kubernetes integration, and more.
In particular, Cloud Volumes ONTAP provides storage efficiency features, including thin provisioning, data compression, and deduplication, reducing the storage footprint and costs for your Azure deployments by up to 70%.
Learn More About Azure Cost Management
Azure cost management is a broad topic. To optimize your costs, you should have a good understanding of Azure pricing models and options across the services you heavily use. Read our additional articles below for information that will help you understand and optimize cloud costs on Azure.
Azure Cost Optimization
Azure provides several important pricing options that can help you save costs: reserved instances, spot instances, Azure Hybrid Benefit (the ability to save move your Microsoft licenses from on-premises machines to Azure), dev/test pricing, and AWS price matching.
Understand if and when you can use these options to generate substantial reductions in your cloud bill. Also learn best practices that can help you improve utilization and optimize cloud usage: right-sizing VMs, switching to B-series VMs or containers, moving to elastic databases, and more.
Azure Storage Pricing
Storage is a significant part of cloud costs for most users of Microsoft Azure. However, each storage service has its own pricing model and storage tiers, and pricing can quickly get complex.
Get a quick overview of Azure’s five core storage services, understand each service’s pricing model, and see concise tables that demonstrate pricing for common scenarios.
Azure Blob Storage Pricing
Azure blob storage is possibly the most common Azure service, and its pricing can be difficult to understand. It depends on multiple factors including types of storage accounts in Azure, types of blob storage, storage tiers, and redundancy options. Gain an in-depth understanding of these factors and how to calculate and forecast your storage costs.
Azure SQL Pricing
Azure SQL provides the popular Microsoft SQL server as a Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering. There are multiple deployment models and service tiers, adding up to as many as 18 flavors of the Azure SQL service. To add to this complexity, there are two different pricing models you can choose from: Database Transaction Units (DTU) and vCores.
To avoid getting lost in the huge number of pricing tables, start with a quick overview of Azure SQL service options, and a few pricing examples across the most common scenarios. This will make it easier when you dive into Azure’s official pricing and use the price calculator to compute your actual Azure SQL costs.
Read more: Azure SQL Pricing Simplified
Azure Storage Efficiencies
Learn how Cloud Volumes ONTAP can help you achieve significant storage efficiencies and cost savings, for both premium and standard Azure storage. Cloud Volumes ONTAP uses a combination of techniques including compression, deduplication, data compaction, thin provisioning to ensure you pay for your true on-demand capacity, efficient and instant snapshots, and near-zero-capacity volume cloning.
Storage Tiering in Azure
Leveraging storage tiers is a critical strategy to reducing your costs in Azure. However, it is complex to manage large volumes of data and ensure the right data ends up in hot, warm, cool or archive storage. Cloud Volumes ONTAP can help by automatically tiering infrequently accessed active data as well as snapshots, standby disaster recovery environments and backups, from expensive block storage to lower cost object storage tiers. For some customers this has achieved a reduction of up to 70% in storage costs.
Azure Block Storage and Object Storage
Understand the difference between block storage on Azure, offered in the form of Virtual Hard Disks (VHD), and object storage, provided as part of the Azure Blob Storage service. Understand when it’s optimal to use each type of storage, the comparative storage costs, and the cost savings you can achieve by leveraging storage tiers on Azure Blob Storage.
Azure Disk Pricing: Understanding Your Options
Azure managed disks are virtual storage volumes attached to Azure virtual machines. Virtual disks can be a major part of your spend on Azure if you have a large number of VMs. You have to understand what each type of virtual disk provides, and the cost structure for virtual disks when planning your Azure budget.
Azure provides several types of managed disks: regular HDD drives, standard solid state drives (SSD), premium solid state drives, and ultra disks. Disks are priced at a flat monthly rate (depending on disk type), with a separate charge per 10,000 transactions.
Learn about the Azure disk pricing structure, and how to choose the disk that suits your workloads.
Azure TCO Calculator: How to Reduce Your Cloud Bill
Azure total cost of ownership (TCO) calculator is a cost management tool that enables you to estimate the cost of migrating your workloads to Azure and predict your potential savings for existing workloads.
Consider using the TCO when evaluating your usage of the Azure cloud. TCO is key to understanding the real cost of your projects and measuring your return on investment (ROI).
This post reviews the importance of TCO measurement in cloud projects, and how to use the Azure TCO Calculator to understand your real costs and ROI.
Azure Cost Calculator: The First Step to Saving on Azure
Azure Cost Calculator is a tool you can use to estimate the cost of Azure services. You can customize these estimates with personal configurations for greater accuracy, and monitor the estimates through a central dashboard.
This post explains the structure of the Azure pricing model and shows how to estimate your costs with the cost calculator.
Hidden Azure Data Transfer Costs: Where They Come from and What to Do About Them
Network data transfer charges could impact your monthly cloud bill significantly if your Azure resources are not planned and deployed to optimize these costs. This blog will focus on helping readers identify the hidden data transfer charges on Azure, which could otherwise be skipped unintentionally during the planning phase. Tips and tricks to optimize this cost will be discussed in detail. The blog will also focus on Cloud Volumes ONTAP’s data-efficient snapshot feature that help customers reduce the Azure data transfer costs further.
Find and Delete Unused Azure Disks to Reduce Azure Storage Costs
You may be paying higher Azure storage costs than necessary because of the high number of virtual hard disks (VHDs) that have been provisioned in your account but aren’t being used. These unused disks wind up piling up during migrations, creating backups, or during diagnostic procedures. Whatever the cause, these disks will continue to rack up charges, sometimes without users even being aware that they are paying for them. A quick and easy way to reduce your monthly Azure storage costs is to identify and delete such unused VHDs.
This post offers detailed instructions on how to delete both managed and unmanaged Azure disks from your Azure account, via two methods: the Azure portal interface or through scripted PowerShell commands.
See Our Additional Guides on Key IaaS Topics
We have authored in-depth guides on several other topics that can also be useful as you explore the world of IaaS.
Learn about cloud migration and what major challenges to expect when implementing a cloud migration strategy in your organization.
See top articles in our cloud migration strategy guide:
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- 3 Cloud Migration Approaches and Their Pros and Cons
Learn about Amazon’s basic framework for migration, and how to plan for common challenges that affect almost every migration project.
See top articles in our AWS migration guide:
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- AWS Database Migration Service: Copy-Paste Your Database to Amazon
Learn what is AWS EBS and how to perform common EBS operations. Including five highly useful EBS features that can help you optimize performance and billing.
See top articles in our guide to AWS EBS:
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- AWS EBS Volume Backup with EBS Snapshots
- Cloning Amazon EBS Volumes: A Solution to the AWS EBS Cloning Problem
Learn about AWS EFS, your backup options, how to optimize performance, see a brief comparison of EFS vs EBS vs S3, and discover how Cloud Volumes ONTAP can help.
See top articles in our guide to AWS EFS:
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- Understanding AWS Shared Storage for Files, Block Storage, Object Storage and VDI
- AWS NFS File Shares with Amazon EFS: 5 Key Considerations
Learn about aspects of considerations when implementing Azure migration: migration models, state assessment, storage configuration, security, and maintenance.
See top articles in our Azure migration guide:
- 11-Step Azure Migration Checklist
- Moving Clouds: Migration from AWS to Azure and Azure to AWS
- Azure Migration Tools: One-Click Migration for VMs and Data
Learn how AWS cost optimization works, free Amazon tools that can help manage costs, and best practices for reducing your cloud bill.
See top articles in our AWS cost optimization guide:
- AWS Costs: 3 Ways to Save Big and 10 Price Variations to Watch Out For
- AWS Storage Costs: All in One Place
- AWS Cost Saving Guidebook Shows How You Can Optimize EBS Costs
Discover how high available systems are reliable and resilient and see how AWS can help you achieve high availability for cloud workloads, across 3 dimensions.
See top articles in our AWS high availability guide:
- AWS Availability Zones: Architecture and Considerations for Planning Your Deployment
- AWS Data Loss Prevention: 5 Strategies and 5 Tools You Can Use
- AWS GovCloud Services: Sensitive and Classified Data on the Public Cloud
High availability is one of the major benefits of cloud services. The guarantee that your data will remain accessible is critical to supporting high priority workloads and applications and is the reason many move to the cloud in the first place.
This guide explains what high availability is and how to optimize Azure high availability.
See top articles in our Azure high availability guide:
- Azure Availability Zones: An In-Depth Look
- Azure High Availability with Cloud Volumes ONTAP
- Azure Proximity Placement Groups and Cloud Volumes ONTAP
Discover services and techniques for cloud-based HPC, including unique Azure HPC features and use cases.
See top articles in our guide to HPC on Azure:
- Cloud Architects: Supercharge Your HPC Workloads in Azure
- Migrate Legacy Apps to the Cloud
- Solve Azure HPC Challenges eBook
Learn about all SAP solutions offered as a service on Azure, including HANA, S/4HANA, NetWeaver and Hybris, migration considerations and best practices.
See top articles in our guide to SAP on Azure:
- SAP HANA Architecture: Components, Storage Types, and Cloud Offerings
- Start Your SAP on Microsoft Azure Cloud Journey
- SAP HANA Certification for Azure NetApp Files
Learn how to use Linux on Azure, including guides for cloud-based enterprise Linux deployments and performance tips.
See top articles in our guide to Linux on Azure:
- Solve Enterprise Linux File Requirements in Azure
- Build Your Own Enterprise NFS Service
- Linux on Azure Workload Migration: Challenges and Solutions
Learn what options are available for VDI on Azure. Understand how the architecture works and discover best practices for VDI deployments.
See top articles in our guide to VDI on Azure:
- FSLogix: An In-Depth Look
- Azure Windows Virtual Desktop: How to Setup, Deploy, and Manage a Cloud-Based VDI
- Azure VDI Pricing: Understand Windows Virtual Desktop Costs
Learn how to migrate your workloads and data to Google Cloud, including in-depth comparisons between GCP and other cloud providers, tools, strategies, costs, and more.
See top articles in our guide on Google Cloud migration:
- AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud: Choosing the Best Cloud Provider for You
- Google Cloud Costs: Understanding and Managing Your GCP Bill
- Google Cloud Migration Tools: Copying 1GB or 500TB? Learn How
Learn how VMware Cloud can help you move VMware resources seamlessly to the cloud, leveraging a pre-configured VMware-compatible cloud environment.
See top articles in our guide on VMWare cloud:
- VMware on Azure: One-Step Migration to the Cloud
- VMware on Google Cloud: A Deployment Roadmap
- VMware on AWS: Architecture and Service Options
Learn about Elasticsearch, the hugely popular NoSQL database and enterprise search solution.
See top articles in our guide on Elasticsearch: