• 8 min read

Azure Cost Management updates – October 2019

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 comes in! Learn more about the latest updates from Azure Cost Management, including Ignite 2019 sessions, an update for partners, a big Power BI refresh, and more!

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 comes in!

We're always looking for ways to learn more about your challenges and how Cost Management 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.


Cost Management at Microsoft Ignite 2019

Microsoft Ignite 2019 is right around the corner! Come join us in these Azure Cost Management sessions and don't forget to stop by the Azure Cost Management booth on the expo floor to say hi and get some cool swag.

And if you're still hungry for more, here are a few other sessions you might be interested in:


Cost Management update for partners

November will bring a lot of exciting announcements across Azure and Microsoft as a whole. Perhaps the one we’re most eager to see is the one we mentioned in our July update: the launch of Microsoft Customer Agreement support for partners, where Azure Cost Management will become available to Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) partners and customers. CSP partners who have onboarded their customers to Microsoft Customer Agreement will be able to take advantage of all the native cost management tools Microsoft Enterprise Agreement and pay-as-you-go customers have today, but optimized for CSP.

Partners will be able to:

  • Understand and analyze costs directly in the portal and break them down by customer, subscription, meter, and more
  • Setup budgets to be notified or trigger automated actions when costs exceed predefined thresholds
  • Review invoiced costs and partner-earned credits associated with customers, subscriptions, and services
  • Enable Cost Management for customers using pay-as-you-go rates

And once Cost Management has been enabled for CSP customers, they’ll also be able to take advantage of these native tools when managing their subscriptions and resource groups.

All of this and more will be available to CSP partners and customers within the Azure portal and the underlying Resource Manager APIs to enable rich automation and integration to meet your specific needs. And this is just the first of a series of updates to enable Azure Cost Management for partners and their customers. We hope you find these tools valuable as an addition to all the new functionality Microsoft Customer Agreement offers and look forward to delivering even more cost management capabilities next year, including support for existing CSP customers. Stay tuned for the full Microsoft Customer Agreement announcement coming in November!


Major refresh for the Power BI connector

Azure Cost Management offers several ways to report on your cost and usage data. You can start with cost analysis in the portal, then download data for offline analysis. If you need more automation, you can use Cost Management APIs or schedule an export to push data to a storage account on a daily basis. But maybe you just need detailed reporting alongside other business reports. This is where the Azure Cost Management connector for Power BI comes in. This month you'll see a few major updates to the Power BI connector.

First and foremost, this is a new connector that replaces both the Azure Consumption Insights connector for Enterprise Agreement accounts and the Azure Cost Management (Beta) connector for Microsoft Customer Agreement accounts. The new connector supports both by accepting either an Enterprise Agreement billing account ID (enrollment number) or Microsoft Customer Agreement billing profile ID.

The next change Enterprise Agreement admins will notice is that you no longer need an API key. Instead, the new connector uses Azure Active Directory. The connector still requires access to the entire billing account, but now a read-only user can set it up without requiring a full admin to create an API key in the Enterprise Agreement portal.

Lastly, you'll also notice a few new tables for reservation details and recommendations. Reservation and Marketplace purchases have been added to the Usage details table as well as a new Usage details amortized table, which includes the same amortized data available in cost analysis. For more details, refer to the Reservation and Marketplace purchases update we announced in June 2019. Those same great changes are now available in Power BI.

Please check out the new connector and let us know what you'd like to see next!


BP implements cloud governance and effective cost management

BP has moved a significant portion of its IT resources to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform over the past five years as part of a company-wide digital transformation. To manage and deliver all its Azure resources in the most efficient possible way, BP uses Azure Policy for governance to control access to Azure services. At the same time, the company uses Azure Cost Management to track usage of Azure services. BP has been able to reduce its cloud spend by 40 percent with the insights it has gained.

BP customer video.“We’ve used Azure Cost Management to help cut our cloud costs by 40 percent. Even though our total usage has close to doubled, our total spending is still well below what it used to be.”
– John Maio, Microsoft Platform Chief Architect

Learn more about BP's customer story.


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:

  • Get started quicker with the cost analysis Home view
    Cost Management offers five  built-in views to get started with understanding and drilling into your costs. The Home view gives you quicker access to those views so you get to what you need faster.
  • New: Scope selection and navigation optimized for active billing accountsNow available in the portal
    Cost Management now prioritizes active billing accounts when selecting a default scope and displaying available scopes in the scope picker.
  • New: Performance optimizations in cost analysis and dashboard tiles
    Whether you're using tiles pinned to the dashboard or the full experience, you'll find cost analysis loads faster than ever.

Of course, that's not all. Every change in 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.


Scope selection and navigation optimized for active billing accounts

Cost Management is available at every scope above your resources – from a billing account or management group down to the individual resource groups where you manage your apps. You can manage costs in the context of the scope you're interested in or start in Cost Management and switch between scopes without navigating around the portal. Whatever works best for you. This month, we're introducing a few small tweaks to make it even easier to manage costs for your active billing accounts and subscriptions.

For those who start in Cost Management, you may notice the default scope has changed for you. Cost Management now prioritizes active billing accounts and subscriptions over renewed, cancelled, or disabled ones. This will help you get started even quicker without needing to change scope.

When you do change scope, the list of billing accounts may be a little shorter than you last remember. This is because those older billing accounts are now hidden by default, keeping you focused on your active billing accounts. To see your inactive billing accounts, uncheck the “Only show active billing accounts” checkbox at the bottom of the scope picker. This option also allows you to see all subscriptions, regardless of what's been pre-selected in the global subscription filter.

Lastly, when you're looking at all billing accounts and subscriptions, you'll see the inactive ones at the bottom of the list, with their status clearly called out for ultimate transparency and clarity.

Cost Management with an active billing account selected by default and the scope picker open, showing all active and inactive billing accounts with a prefix on each inactive billing account with its status

We hope these changes will make it easier for you manage costs across scopes. Let us know what you'd like to see next.


Improved right-sizing recommendations for virtual machines

One of the most critical learnings when moving to the cloud is how important it is to size virtual machines for the workload and use auto-scaling capabilities to grow (or shrink) to meet usage demands. In an effort to ensure your virtual machines are using the optimal size, Azure Advisor now factors CPU usage, memory, and network usage into right-sizing recommendations for more accurate recommendations you can trust. Learn more about the change in the latest Advisor update.


New ways to save money with Azure

There have been several new cost optimization improvements over the past month. Here are a few you might be interested in:


New videos

For those visual learners out there, here are a couple new videos you should check out:

Subscribe to the Azure Cost Management YouTube channel to stay in the loop with new videos as they're released and let us know what you'd like to see next.


Documentation updates

There were a lot of documentation updates. 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 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. 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.