11 min read
In some ways, 2022 is what we expected out of 2021. Perhaps it’s better late than never, but the world is beginning to get back to normal—albeit a new normal where hybrid work is a default rather than an exception for many of us. In this new world, demands on our time have increased exponentially, making it more critical than ever to focus on maximizing value, return on investment, and cloud efficiencies. And that’s exactly what you saw as we doubled down on savings opportunities in 2022.
Streamlined management behind a single pane of glass
The last few years have been focused on building a new commerce platform that brings all Microsoft offers together under a single billing relationship. Microsoft Customer Agreement really puts you in control with consolidated invoicing that you can customize and split to meet your needs. 2022 continued down this path by expanding support to an even broader audience.
Perhaps the most notable change was the major shift you saw as Azure Cost Management expanded coverage to Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, and more in January. At the same time, Cost Management was made available directly within the Microsoft 365 admin center, giving you more freedom to view costs where you are. Then, in May, Azure Cost Management was rebranded to Microsoft Cost Management to align with our vision of a single cost management experience across all your commercial products and services.
While Cost Management expanded to a new portal, Enterprise Agreement billing account management took the next step towards consolidating into the Azure portal in March.
Going back to Microsoft Customer Agreement, in May, organizations with billing accounts spread across multiple tenants can now link and centrally manage these accounts from a single tenant. You also saw new licensing benefits that make bringing workloads and licenses to partners’ clouds easier for Cloud Solution Provider partners in October.
A few of the things we didn’t announce, but some of you may have noticed include invoice details improvements in the portal, a streamlined support experience for refunds, transitioning education accounts to Microsoft Customer Agreement (which comes with Cost Management support), and a faster usage pipeline to get cost details to you faster than ever before.
Looking at 2022, expect to see more organizations transitioning to Microsoft Customer Agreement, new Microsoft 365 offers covered by Cost Management, more Cost Management capabilities in the Microsoft 365 admin center, and further consolidation of Enterprise Agreement billing account management capabilities in the Azure portal for partners. You'll also see continued rollout of the faster usage pipeline to more accounts, which will be available for Microsoft Customer Agreement accounts first, then Enterprise Agreement accounts later in the year. We're very excited to get these into your hands and hear what you'd like to see next.
Rich cost reporting and analytics
I’ve talked about how the Cost analysis preview is the future of analytics and insights in Cost Management. 2022 introduced many improvements that show you where we’re headed with Cost analysis. It started with multitasking in January, showing how you’ll be able to investigate multiple perspectives of your data simultaneously, speeding up investigation times. Then you saw the next evolution of smart insights with the anomaly detection preview in February and cost savings insights in September. Going back to April, you saw summarized totals that give you an at-a-glance view of your total and average cost as they compare to your budget and building on that, you saw a callout for the change since the previous period in November. You also saw improvements around how resources are grouped in the Resources view, making it easier than ever to quickly review your costs by grouping child resources like Microsoft Azure SQL databases in May and enabling you to group resources your own way with the cm-resource-parent tag in October. And if that wasn’t enough, you may have noticed performance and reliability improvements in the underlying APIs as well as a few more preview features available in Cost Management Labs today that are coming soon.
For those interested in automation and integration with our APIs, you might be interested in downloading your Azure prices as a ZIP file in April or the new Cost Details API in July. I would especially encourage those using the old Usage Details or consumption APIs to take a hard look at the Cost Details API. Those APIs will be deprecated, so it’s important to get switched over to the new, more scalable API.
And for those on the go, you can now view your cost in the Azure mobile app as of June. You can see your current and forecasted cost for the month and check any budgets you have setup on your subscriptions and resource groups.
2023 will see the general availability of the Cost analysis preview. That’ll start with a series of navigation updates that help you pick which cost view you want to start on followed by improvements to help you visualize and drill into costs. Classic cost analysis will remain available as we bring rich filtering and customization to the Cost analysis preview. Our goal is to bring each of those capabilities in better than they were before, including more built-in cost views that help you do more than you can today.
When it comes to automation and integration, expect to see continued evolution of scheduled exports ranging from support for storage accounts behind a firewall and overwriting files for current month exports instead of generating new files every day to more data sets becoming available for exports, like price sheets, and new guidance and templates to help you better manage data at scale on top of your exports.
On top of all this, you’ll also continue to see latency, performance, reliability, and usability improvements throughout the year. Our ultimate goal is to bring the time it takes cost data to make it to you in either APIs or portal experiences down to one to two hours.
Flexible cost control that puts the power in your hands
When it comes to cost governance and driving accountability throughout a large organization, tags are critical. And with that, I want to start by calling out the tag inheritance preview from November. This is a very powerful tool that allows you to apply your subscription and resource group tags down to the cost data of your resources. You’ll see the applied tags both in Cost analysis in the portal as well as any data you pull via APIs or exports. Note that Cost Management tag inheritance works differently than Azure Policy: Tags are not applied to the resources themselves—tags are only available in cost data—and inherited tags are applied to resources that don’t include tags in their cost data today.
As for alerts, you saw anomaly alerts configurable in the Azure portal in May followed by the Scheduled Actions API to configure anomaly and scheduled alerts programmatically in June. Also in June, you saw budgets now support action groups common alert schema. Then in September, you saw the addition of budgets in the Azure mobile app, which I mentioned earlier. We haven’t fully rolled it out yet, but some of you are also getting faster budget alerts, which we mentioned were in progress.
Insights and alerts are a big area of discussion for us lately as we plan out the next set of changes to expand anomaly detection, identify new insights you might find useful, and add more options for cost alerts, including the full rollout of faster budget alerts, which come with a goal of alerting you within two hours of going over your budget. First up on this list is reservation utilization alerts, followed by resource group anomaly detection, but stay tuned as we continue to flesh out these plans.
New ways to save and do more with less
As you heard in many of the keynotes and sessions at Microsoft Ignite this year, cost optimization is a major focus for us at Microsoft. I’m going to start with the biggest announcement in this space, which was the release of Azure savings plans in October. Savings plans are a commitment-based discount that help you reduce your costs by committing to consistent usage over one or three years. The one-liner is that they’re like a more flexible version of reservations, except based on cost instead of usage quantity. Of course, there’s a lot more to that story, so I encourage you to learn more. But while I’m on the subject of commitment-based discounts, I should also mention the availability of reservations for Azure Cache for Redis in August, Azure Backup Storage in September, VM software reservations in November, and a new on-demand capacity reservation type for virtual machines and Azure Site Recovery in March and AKS in April.
You saw Azure Advisor improvements like filtering cost recommendations by tag in July, cost savings insights in Cost analysis in September, Advisor Score general availability in October, and new cost recommendations for virtual machine scale sets in November.
Throughout the year, you saw several blog posts focused on helping you learn how to drive efficiency across the different services you use:
- Rightsize to maximize your cloud investment in January.
- Save big by using your on-premises licenses in January.
- Unlock cloud savings on the fly with autoscale in April.
- How to choose the right Azure services for your applications—It’s not A or B in July.
- What is desktop as a service (DaaS) and how can it help your organization? in July.
- Migrate and modernize with Azure to power innovation across the entire digital estate in July.
- 5 steps to prepare developers for cloud modernization in August.
- SQL Server discovery and assessment with Azure Migrate in September.
- Drive efficiency through automation and AI in October.
And lastly, here's a summary of the services you saw new cost-saving opportunities for in 2022:
- AI and machine learning
- Machine Learning added auto-shutdown for idle compute instances in September.
- Stream Analytics increased the size of jobs and clusters and added autoscaling for jobs in May and expanded to 10 new regions in March; China East 3, China North 3, US DoD East, and US DoD Texas in July; and Qatar in October.
- Azure Databricks added Serverless SQL support in August and expanded to Sweden Central and West Central US in June and West US 3 in August.
- Virtual machines reduced prices for DCsv2/DCsv3 in January and then expansion to Switzerland and West US in April and Australia East, Japan East, South Central US, and Southeast Asia in May; added the ability to auto-delete associated resources and added disk bursting in February; introduced the Ebsv5 SKU in April and expanded to 13 additional regions in May, introduced the DCsv3/DCdsv3 SKU in May, NC A100 v4 in June, NVads A10 v5 in July, and HX and HBv4 in November; and upgraded HBv3 VMs in March.
- RedHat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) improved their Azure Hybrid Benefit support in February.
- Virtual machine scale sets added support for both standard and Spot VMs in the same scale set in October.
- Azure Batch added support for spot VMs in March.
- Azure VMWare Solution expanded to Sweden Central in August and introduced the AV36P and AV52 SKUs in November.
- Azure SQL Database Hyperscale released the general availability of named replicas in June.
- SQL virtual machines released the general availability of best practices assessment.
- Azure Database for MySQL Flexible Server expanded to US Gov Virginia and China East 2 and China North 2 in March and added support for B-series VMs in April.
- Azure Database for PostgreSQL Flexible Server added support for more high availability regions and expanded to US Gov Virginia and US Gov Arizona in March and China North 3 and China East 3 in November.
- Cosmos DB lowered the autoscale RU/s requirement in April; features for scalable, cost-effective application development in May; and increased the serverless container storage limit, improved the Try Azure for free experience, and added a 16MB limit per document in API for MongoDB in June.
- Developer tools
- App Configuration added geo replication support in August.
- Hybrid and multicloud
- Azure Key Vault increased service limits in January.
- Azure Storage added the ability to create an additional 5000 storage accounts per subscription in June and Premium SSD v2 disk storage in October.
- Azure Archive Storage expanded to Switzerland North in April.
- Azure NetApp Files expanded to Australia Central 2 in February and added backup support in Southeast Asia and UK South in September.
- Azure SignalR introduced a Premium tier in March.
As usual, you'll see more of the same types of cost optimization opportunities throughout 2022. We'll also continue to partner with service teams to help them deliver cost recommendations and find new ways to help you save more on your existing workloads.
Making it easier to learn and use Cost Management and Billing
We're constantly on the lookout for ways to make Cost Management easier to learn and use. From ratings and reviews in the portal to user research, like the numerous surveys and research interviews we shared in 2022, and many, many conversations with you all—your feedback is critical.
With 21 previews throughout the year, it's hard to pick favorites, but I’d love to ask each of you to check out the latest changes in the Cost analysis preview, given those are planned to be rolled out soon.
There were also many videos and documentation updates from us, our partners, and the community. It's truly amazing to see how important cost visibility, accountability, and optimization are for everyone from early learners to the largest organizations. We covered 16 videos and 45 of the main documentation updates, but that barely scratches the surface of all the great learning content out there.
As always, you can expect to see more of the same in 2023: Continued dedication to ease of use through early access to previews and experimentation and further improvements to documentation to facilitate your learning. We’re still finalizing a few aspects of what’s coming in this area, but I’ll leave you with one takeaway: We are absolutely dedicated to evolving and sharing proven FinOps practices—from native capabilities within our platform and tools to guidance that helps you make the right decisions on how to best manage your costs to broader alignment across the industry, making it easier than ever to align people and implement proven practices, regardless of the tools you use.
Looking forward to another year
With all the things that happened in 2022, we couldn't list everything here. Check out and subscribe to the Microsoft Cost Management monthly updates for the latest news.
We look forward to hearing your feedback as new and updated capabilities become available. And if you're interested in the latest features, before they're available to everyone, check out Cost Management Labs and don’t hesitate to reach out with any feedback. Cost Management Labs gives you a direct line to the Microsoft Cost Management engineering team and is the best way to influence and make an immediate impact on features being actively developed and tuned for you.
Follow Microsoft Cost Management on Twitter and subscribe to the YouTube channel for updates, tips, and tricks! And, as always, share your ideas and vote up others in the Cost Management feedback forum.
Best wishes from the Microsoft Cost Management team.