• 7 min read

Azure Cost Management + Billing updates – September 2020

While 2020 may be keeping you on your toes, September should help make your life a little bit easier with the general availability of AWS support in Azure Cost Management + Billing, allowing you to manage all your Azure and AWS costs in a single place; the preview of cost allocation, streamlining your internal chargeback process; and many, many new cost optimization tips and tricks, including a new retail, PAYG pricing API, new Advisor recommendations, and specific guidance for organizations using Azure SQL or Azure Backup. You won't want to miss this update!

Whether you're a new student, thriving startup, or the largest enterprise, you have financial constraints, and you need to know what you're spending, where, and how to plan for the future. Nobody wants a surprise when it comes to the bill, and this is where Azure Cost Management + Billing comes in.

We're always looking for ways to learn more about your challenges and how Azure Cost Management + Billing can help you better understand where you're accruing costs in the cloud, identify and prevent bad spending patterns, and optimize costs to empower you to do more with less. Here are a few of the latest improvements and updates based on your feedback:

Let's dig into the details.


Simplify financial reporting with cost allocation, now in preview

Managing cloud costs can be challenging, especially if your organization needs to break down costs for an internal chargeback. You might have separate business units, or you might need to facilitate external billing for distinct customer solutions. This becomes even more difficult when you employ shared services to reduce costs, since there may not be a clear way to break those shared services down by business unit or customer. This is where the Azure Cost Management + Billing cost allocation preview for Enterprise Agreement (EA) and Microsoft Customer Agreement (MCA) accounts comes in.

Cost allocation is the process of breaking down and distributing shared costs. A couple examples of this are networking infrastructure, shared by multiple virtual machines, or shared databases or storage accounts, used by different teams or customers. If you're sharing services across business units or customers, take a look at how cost allocation can help you drive more accountability and streamline cost reporting within your organization.

Learn more about the cost allocation preview and let us know what you'd like to see next.


Connector for AWS is now generally available

In 2019, we announced the preview of AWS connectors for Azure Cost Management + Billing, which allows you to view and manage your Azure and AWS costs from a single pane of glass in the Azure portal. Support for AWS is now generally available. This new connector simplifies handling different cost models and numerous billing cycles so you can visualize and always stay up-to-date with your costs across clouds.

For more details and a walkthrough for how to get started, see the Connector for AWS general availability announcement.


Get pay-as-you-go rates for all Azure products and services

Have you ever needed access to pay-as-you-go (PAYG) prices for different Azure services, but didn't know where to start? Maybe you're looking to optimize costs with the cheapest SKU or location combination or generating a savings report to show how much you've saved with discounted rates. Perhaps you want to get notified about price changes or build your own pricing calculator. Whatever the need, the Retail Prices API gives you a simple, unauthenticated way to get PAYG rates for all Azure products and services. Give it a spin and let us know what you'd like to see next.


What's new in Cost Management Labs

With Cost Management Labs, you get a sneak peek at what's coming in Azure Cost Management and can engage directly with us to share feedback and help us better understand how you use the service, so we can deliver more tuned and optimized experiences. Here are a few features you can see in Cost Management Labs:

  • Dark theme support in dashboard tilesNow available in the public portal
    Pinned dashboard tiles now support the dark theme.
  • Pin the Cost Management overview for quick access to scopesNow available in the public portal
    Similar to pinning cost analysis, you can also pin the Cost Management overview to get quick access to the scopes you need. Each pinned tile will remember and pre-select the desired scope, helping you get to where you need to be quicker than ever.
  • Improved getting started
    Expanded getting started experience covering more options across Cost Management + Billing.

Of course, that's not all. Every change in Azure Cost Management is available in Cost Management Labs a week before it's in the full Azure portal. We're eager to hear your thoughts and understand what you'd like to see next. What are you waiting for? Try Cost Management Labs today.


Expanded availability of resource tags in cost reporting

Tagging is the best way to organize and categorize your resources outside of the built-in management group, subscription, and resource group hierarchy. Add your own metadata and build custom reports using cost analysis. While most Azure resources support tags, some resource types do not. Here are the latest resource types which now support tags:

  • Data Factories
  • Databricks workspaces

Remember tags are a part of every usage record and are only available in Cost Management reporting after the tag is applied. Historical costs are not tagged. Learn more about resource tagging limitations and update your resources today for the best cost reporting.


15 ways to optimize your Azure costs

With a global health pandemic continuing to challenge us to find a new normal, cost optimization is at the forefront of many minds. We've talked a lot about the many different ways to optimize costs, but I'd like to offer a quick checklist for anyone getting started with cost optimization in Azure, as well as offer up a couple service-specific checklists for those using Azure SQL or Azure Backup.

First, let's start with basics:

  1. Before you start architecting your solutions, review and factor proven practices from the Azure Well-Architected Framework into your solutions.
  2. If you already have solutions deployed, your next step is to review and take action on cost-saving recommendations in Azure Advisor
  3. Look for additional savings, up to 72 percent, for over 18 Azure and third-party services with Azure reservations
  4. Take advantage of unused on-premises Windows and SQL Server licenses with Azure Hybrid Benefit.
  5. Make sure you understand how the services you use are charged with the Azure Pricing Calculator and architect your solutions in ways that maximize investments while minimizing costs.

If you're using SQL in Azure, on-premises, or from another cloud provider, here are a few extra tips that might help you save even more on top of reservations, Azure Hybrid Benefit, and other Advisor recommendations:

  1. Maintain business continuity in the cloud with free SQL Server licenses.
  2. Shift capex to opex with SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines.
  3. Protect your data with free security updates.
  4. Boost productivity with fully managed Azure SQL database services.
  5. Pay only for the resources you use with per-second billing on the SQL Database serverless.

And lastly, if you're using a backup solution today, here are a few ways Azure Backup can help you reduce costs:

  1. Clean up backups for deleted resources using the inactive resources report.
  2. Consider using daily differential backups with weekly full backups to save compared to daily full backups.
  3. Consider shorter retention durations to reduce costs while still meeting compliance requirements.
  4. Backup only what you need with selective disk backup to include or exclude certain virtual machine data disks.
  5. Opt for locally-redundant storage (LRS) for dev/test or other workloads that don't need geo-redundant storage (GRS) replication to cut storage costs in half.

If you're interested in more details on any of the above, here are a few resources you may want to check out:


New ways to save money with Azure

Lots of cost optimization improvements over the past month! Here are a few you might be interested in:

  • Look for new and updated cost-saving recommendations in Azure Advisor:
    • Right-sizing underutilized MariaDB, MySQL, and PostgreSQL database server resources.
    • Reservations for Cosmos DB, SQL PaaS, Blob storage, App Service Stamp Fee, MariaDB, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Synapse analytics.
    • CPU, memory, and network utilization are now available in via API and Azure Resource Graph.
  • Save on Dsv3, Dsv4, Ddsv4, Esv3, Esv4, and Edsv4 virtual machines with Azure Dedicated Host.
  • Save up to 94 percent compared to other providers with Azure Synapse Analytics.


Upcoming changes to Azure usage data

Many organizations use the full Azure usage and charges to understand what's being used, identify what charges should be internally billed to which teams, and/or to look for opportunities to optimize costs with Azure reservations and Azure Hybrid Benefit, just to name a few. If you're doing any analysis or have setup integration based on product details in the usage data, please update your logic for the following services.

The following Azure Bastion meter IDs for Azure Gov are changing effective October 1:

Also, remember the key-based Enterprise Agreement (EA) billing APIs have been replaced by new Azure Resource Manager APIs. The key-based APIs will still work through the end of your enrollment, but will no longer be available when you renew and transition into Microsoft Customer Agreement. Please plan your migration to the latest version of the UsageDetails API to ease your transition to Microsoft Customer Agreement at your next renewal.


Documentation updates

Lots of documentation updates this month. Here are a few you might be interested in:

Want to keep an eye on all of the documentation updates? Check out the Cost Management + Billing doc change history in the azure-docs repository on GitHub. If you see something missing, select Edit at the top of the document and submit a quick pull request.


What's next?

These are just a few of the big updates from last month. Don't forget to check out the previous Azure Cost Management + Billing updates. We're always listening and making constant improvements based on your feedback, so please keep the feedback coming.

Follow @AzureCostMgmt 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.

We know these are trying times for everyone. Best wishes from the Azure Cost Management + Billing team. Stay safe and stay healthy!