Cloud computing costs can quickly add up, but there are ways an organization can try to prevent a bill from exceeding the budget.
Like all public cloud providers, Microsoft Azure offers tools to manage costs. These include services that track cloud spending, enable budget alerts and estimate costs. In addition, there are third-party tools that can work across Microsoft Azure and other cloud platforms.
Ways to manage Azure costs
Here's a breakdown of some Azure cost management tools that IT teams can use to avoid unwanted surprises on their monthly bills.
Azure Pricing Calculator
Admins can use the Azure Pricing Calculator to determine real-time cost estimates based on the services they use. Users can pick a specific product, such as virtual machines, Azure Databricks or Azure Kubernetes Service, and input their unique configurations. Based on this information, the calculator outputs an upfront and monthly cost estimate for each service. Azure Pricing Calculator is free to use and lets customers plan spending to stay within budget.
Microsoft Cost Management
This is a free suite of tools to manage and optimize Azure costs. It provides information on costs and usage across the platform. Tools within Microsoft Cost Management include the following:
- Azure cost analysis. The cost analysis tool includes a variety of data and filters that help users understand their accumulated costs for the current month, their forecast costs for a given time period, and the costs associated with particular Azure services or resources. Pivot, or doughnut, charts show the smallest to largest costs for the month. This tool provides users a big-picture view of their spending across a cloud deployment.
- Azure cost alerts. Alerts are generated automatically as users hit certain usage or cost thresholds. There are three kinds of alerts: budget alerts, credit alerts and department spending quota alerts. A budget alert occurs when spending, based on resource usage or cost, reaches or exceeds a predefined amount. A credit alert triggers when an Azure Prepayment -- as specified within an Azure Enterprise Agreement -- is depleted. Department spending alerts occur when users meet a specific spending threshold, prompting an email notification to the department owner. These alerts help admins stay on track and serve as helpful reminders.
- Azure budgets. This tool keeps organizations accountable for staying within their specific cloud budget. Admins can customize budgets based on actual or forecast costs. When users meet or exceed a threshold, Azure sends an alert. This does not stop resource consumption. Admins set up these limits through Cost Management.
Underutilized resources can be a drain on cloud finances. Azure Advisor identifies idle resources and wasteful cloud spending. To access this service, sign in to the Azure portal and select Advisor from any page. On the Advisor dashboard, select the Cost tab. By shutting down or reducing unnecessary resources, organizations can be one step closer to optimizing their cloud spending.
Third-party tools can help too
Several third-party Azure cost management tools are worth consideration. For example, VMware Aria Cost powered by CloudHealth -- formerly known as CloudHealth by VMware -- offers features for cloud budget management, cost allocation and migration planning. Apptio Cloudability aims to drive collaboration across IT and business teams to optimize cloud resources and spend. Another tool, NOps, helps organizations optimize container clusters, reduce cloud waste and manage reserved instances. VMware Aria Cost powered by CloudHealth and Apptio Cloudability support Azure, AWS and Google Cloud, while NOps supports Azure and AWS.