• 8 min read

Azure Cost Management and Billing updates – October 2021

October ushers Cost Management and Billing into a new world – from coverage of Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, and more to a new tool that helps you reduce cost and manage your on-prem licenses. You can also update your address or purchase order number on existing invoices or try an early preview of subscription cost anomaly detection. All this plus 12 new cost-saving options, 3 new videos, and 7 documentation updates. We hope you're as excited about what the future holds as we are!

Whether you’re a new student, a 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 and Billing comes in.

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


Cost Management support for Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, and more

In September, we announced changes for seat-based offers coming to the Cloud Solution Provider program. This month, we delivered on that promise by bringing new Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, Windows 365, and Power Platform seat-based offers to Microsoft Customer Agreement, setting the stage for you to manage cost and pay invoices for all Microsoft charges using a single set of consistent tools.

If you’ve purchased one of the supported new commerce seat-based offers, you’ll start to see that cost included within cost analysis in the Azure portal. Start on your MCA billing account or billing profile and group by or filter on Provider to see your cost broken down by Azure, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, etc.

Cost analysis showing Microsoft 365 purchase and usage charges

You can also define a budget specific to Microsoft 365 or other product family using the same Provider filter to get notified as you approach or are forecasted to go over your budget. Note that if you have an scheduled export currently setup, you will need to update it in order to include these new charges. To do that, simply edit the export from the Azure portal and select the Save button. No changes are necessary. This will update the exports schema to include the new Provider column and additional data.

Over the coming months, expect to see more Microsoft products and services available as part of your MCA billing account. This starts with CSP this month and will be expanded to include personal, business, enterprise, and education organizations through next year and beyond. Learn more about CSP seat-based offers and stay tuned for updates coming in 2022.


Manage Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server in the Azure portal

Azure Hybrid Benefit is a licensing benefit that significantly reduces the cost of running your Windows and SQL workloads in the cloud. It works by letting you use your on-premises Software Assurance-enabled Windows Server and SQL Server licenses on Azure. Now you can manage your Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server by assigning licenses to a subscription or billing account.

To get started, a billing account owner can configure and assign licenses from Cost Management and Billing in the Azure portal.

Form allowing you to configure and assign Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server in the Azure portal

Learn more.


Invoice management updates for MCA accounts

Every month, your Microsoft Customer Agreement (MCA) invoice is published with the address and optional purchase order number you configured on your billing profile. Sometimes those can change after you receive the invoice and you might need the invoice re-issued with an updated address or purchase order number. Now you can do that directly from the Azure portal.

Start in Cost Management and Billing and select your billing profile. From the Invoices page, select the invoice you need to update and click the Change bill to + PO number command to update the address or purchase order number. After you update one or both, submit and confirm your changes. Your new invoice should be available within an hour.


Learn more about invoices for MCA billing accounts and let us know what you’d like to see next.


Help shape the future of Azure Cost Management and Billing

Do you use Azure Cost Management and Billing to manage your cloud spending? Are you familiar with Azure cost analysis? We’re exploring new and updated designs for the cost analysis tool and will be running a usability study to gather feedback on these changes to understand how they can better meet your needs and expectations.

If you or someone you know has experience with cost analysis, we would love to get your feedback. If you are interested in participating, please contact our research team.


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:

  • New: Subscription cost anomalies
    Identify subscription cost anomalies with insights in the cost analysis preview. You can enable the cost anomaly preview using Try preview. If you don’t see anomaly details in insights after enabling the preview, check back after 24 hours. Note that anomaly detection is only available when viewing cost for a subscription scope.
  • Subscribe to updates of your saved cost views
    You already know you can save and share custom views in cost analysis. Now you can also subscribe to updates and share those views with people outside the portal on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. You can opt-in using Try Preview or by using classic cost analysis in Cost Management Labs.
  • Multitasking in the cost analysis preview
    Introducing a new tabbed experience in the cost analysis preview. Start with a list of the built-in views and open multiple tabs to explore different aspects of your costs simultaneously. You can opt-in using Try Preview or by using the cost analysis preview in Cost Management Labs. Let us know what you think. We’re looking for explicit feedback here.
  • View cost for your resources
    The cost for your resources is one click away from the resource overview in the preview portal. Just click View cost to quickly jump to the cost of that particular resource.
  • Change scope from the menu
    Change scope from the menu for quicker navigation. You can opt-in using Try Preview.
  • Open configuration items in the main menu
    This is an experimental option to show the selected configuration screen as a nested menu item in the Cost Management menu. You can opt-in using Try Preview from Cost Management Labs.
  • Streamlined Cost Management menu
    Only show settings in Configuration. Remove Exports and Connectors for AWS from the Cost Management menu. You can opt-in using Try Preview from Cost Management Labs.

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.


Upcoming changes to Azure usage data

Many organizations use the full Azure usage and charges to understand what’s being used, identify which charges should be internally billed to which teams, and 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 setup integration based on product details in the usage data, please update your logic to account for these changes.

PublisherType is used to differentiate between first- and third-party cloud costs. Today, you’ll see values like Azure, AWS, and Marketplace. With the addition of Microsoft 365, Dynamic 365, Windows 365, and Power Platform for Microsoft Customer Agreement (MCA) accounts, PublisherType now goes beyond “Azure” costs. As of October 14, 2021, PublisherType will show Microsoft for any Microsoft, first-party charges. Note this will not impact Enterprise Agreement or Pay-As-You-Go accounts until they are transitioned to MCA. Learn more.


New ways to save money with Azure

Lots of cost optimization improvements over the past month! Here are a five new and updated offers you might be interested in:

Seven services have also expanded to more locations, giving you more flexibility and potentially cheaper rates for you to consider to reduce your costs:


New videos and learning opportunities

For those visual learners out there, there are 3 new videos you should take a look at:

Follow the Azure Cost Management and Billing 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.

Want a more guided experience? Start with Control Azure spending and manage bills with Azure Cost Management and Billing.


Documentation updates

Here are a couple documentation updates you might be interested in:

Want to keep an eye on all of the documentation updates? Check out the Cost Management and 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.


Join the Azure Cost Management and Billing team

Are you excited about helping customers and partners better manage and optimize costs? We’re looking for passionate, dedicated, and exceptional people to help build best in class cloud platforms and experiences to enable exactly that. If you have experience with big data infrastructure, reliable and scalable APIs, or rich and engaging user experiences, you’ll find no better challenge than serving every Microsoft customer and partner in one of the most critical areas for driving cloud success.

Join our team.


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 and 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. You can also share ideas and vote up others in the Cost Management feedback forum or join the research panel to participate in a future study and help shape the future of Azure Cost Management and Billing.

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