Azure Cost Management

Azure Cost Management: Visualize, Predict and Optimize Your Azure Bill

[Azure, Cloud Volumes ONTAP, Elementary, 9 minute read, Azure Cost Management, A]

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.

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?

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:

 Azure Cost Management Dashboard:Source: Microsoft

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:

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.

Additional Azure Cost Management Tools

Azure provides several other tools that can help you understand and optimize your cloud costs.

  • 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.

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: 12 Ways to Save on Azure

Azure offers multiple built-in pricing models that can help optimize costs. Learn about the five major cost-saving options in Azure’s pricing structure and start using seven best practices that can reduce waste and maximize the use of existing resources. These include shifting workloads to containers, right-sizing VMs, and locating unused disks. In addition, find out how NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP can help you reduce your cloud expenses even further. 

Read more: Azure Cost Optimization: 12 Ways to Save on Azure

Azure Storage Pricing: Blobs, Files, Tables and Managed Disks

Find out everything you need to know about the pricing of Azure’s five main storage options: Azure Blob Storage, Azure Files, Azure Table Storage, and Disk Storage. Discover each of these products’ pricing structure, costs per GB, data transfer costs, and operational costs. The article will walk you through common scenarios and also show you how NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP can help you use these storage products as cost-efficiently as possible. 

Read more: Azure Storage Pricing: Blobs, Files, Tables and Managed Disks

Azure SQL Pricing Simplified

Learn to navigate the complexities of Azure SQL, Azure’s Platform-as-a-Service version of Microsoft SQL. The service has 18 possible combinations of deployment options, service tiers, and compute models. Read this quick and useful guide to understand the most prevalent Azure SQL pricing options available, and learn about its two pricing models: Database Transaction Units (DTU) and vCores. You’ll also learn about the role NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP can play in significantly lowering your Azure SQL costs.  

Read more: Azure SQL Pricing Simplified

Azure Disk Pricing: Understanding Your Options

If you have a large number of VMs, chances are they are accounting for a large portion of your cloud expenditures. Disks are priced at a flat monthly rate, depending on the type of disk, with an additional charge per 10,000 transactions. Get to know the cost structure of virtual disks in Azure to improve your cost management strategy. You’ll learn about the different Azure disk types, what they provide, common use cases, and how much they cost. In addition, we’ll show you how NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP can help lower your virtual disks costs in Azure and in other storage services.   

Read more: Azure Disk Pricing: Understanding Your Options

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.

Read more: Azure Blob Storage Pricing: The Complete Guide

Azure Backup Pricing

Backup is a critical part of any Azure deployment, and it comes at a price. Learn about Azure’s backup model and what you can back up on Azure—this can include both resources in the Azure cloud and resources deployed on-premises.

Understand the two main components of Azure backup pricing—a fixed monthly cost per “protected instance”, or machine being backed up, and a storage price per GB-month, and see simple examples that demonstrate how to calculate pricing for your own usage.

Read more: Azure Backup Pricing for Dummies

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.

Read more: Storage Deduplication, Compaction and Compression: Taking Storage Efficiency to the Next Level

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.

Read more: Azure Tiers: Leveraging Storage Tiering with Cloud Volumes ONTAP

Azure Block Storage and Azure 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.

Read more: Azure Block Storage and Azure Object Storage: Features, Benefits, and Solutions

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.

Read more: Azure TCO Calculator: How to Reduce Your Cloud Bill

Azure Cost Calculator: The First Step 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.

Read more: Azure Cost Calculator: The First Step to Saving on Azure

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.

Read more: Hidden Azure Data Transfer Costs: Where They Come from and What to Do About Them

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.

Read more in Find and Delete Unused Azure Disks to Reduce Azure Storage Costs.

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