Managing Costs in Microsoft Azure

It’s important that you are managing costs in Microsoft Azure because when public cloud is so easy to consume, you want to be sure that you understand what you are paying for and what it’s going to cost you.

Microsoft Azure makes building and consuming resources almost too easy so understanding and managing costs in Microsoft Azure is critical.

We aren’t trying to scare you and say that you shouldn’t be deploying resources into the cloud: quite the opposite in-fact. What we are saying though is that you should keep stock of what you are spending and where so that you are managing costs in Microsoft Azure and not the costs managing you.

In this post, we’ll explore some of the ways that you can manage your costs in Microsoft Azure to make sure that you are getting bang for your buck.

Review your bill

This is the most obvious step but you’d be surprised how often we see and hear people shocked by a bill at the end of a month having not anticipated it. Simply logging in to the Azure Portal and reviewing your bill takes but a few seconds and can help you avoid that unexpected bill.

You can access your bill by visiting which will take you directly to the Cost Management and Billing blade within the Azure Portal.

Managing costs in Microsoft Azure

So we’ve covered the most basic point: reviewing your bill so that you know what’s happening when it comes to managing costs in Microsoft Azure.

Set-up billing notifications

Billing notifications, once set-up, will send you a copy of your invoice each month. You can send this to as few or as many people as you like but we’d recommend, at minimum, two groups of people.

Firstly, you will want a copy of the invoices to be sent to your finance team so that they can use the email invoice to match up against payments outgoing so that they can balance the books.

Second, you will want a copy of the invoices to be sent to whoever manages the resources in Microsoft Azure so that, that person is informed of what the costs are.

Billing notifications by email is an opt-in feature that is enabled per Subscription as part of managing costs in Microsoft Azure.

To access this, open the Subscriptions blade in the Azure Portal, select the Subscription you are interested in setting up and under the heading Billing, select the Invoices option. From the Invoices blade, select the Email Invoices button.

Set-up budgets and billing alerts

Budgets allow us to specify how much money has been allocated to Microsoft Azure spending and burn down against the budget. We can then optionally, in addition to setting up the budgets, set-up alerts when Microsoft Azure thinks we are going to breach.

We can configure budgets in Microsoft Azure per Management Group, per Subscription, or per Resource Group. This granularity in being able to specify your budget at different levels means you can match your budget assignment really helps you to in managing costs in Microsoft Azure.

If you have set-up Resource Groups per-project and want to set your budgets per Resource Group then that’s fine; if you want to set an overall budget for your Subscription or even higher up at the Management Group you can do that too.

To start, select the resource you want to link a budget to and then select the Budgets option. From the budgets blade, select the Add button to create a new budget.

When creating a budget you can specify whether it’s a monthly, quarterly, or annual budget and you can specify the amount. Once created, you can create a Billing Alert that will warn you as you approach your budget or if you exceed it.

Set-up tags and tag policies

Tags in Azure Resource Manager are extremely powerful. Every resource in Microsoft Azure can be tagged with up to 15 custom key-value pairs. You can use these for whatever you like, however, one really great way is to help you understand what your resources are, who owns them, and more.

At Arcible, we highly recommend making use of tags as they can form a key pillar in managing costs in Microsoft Azure. For example, if you have an overall Azure budget for the year but you want to see how different applications or services are burning this, you can report your billing and cost on a tag value.

If you find resources which are costly a lot to run you can use tags to see who the service owner is or who approved the changes so that you can reach out to those individuals to talk to them about the costs.

Use Azure Reservations

We’ve talked about Azure Reservations previously as a way to commit to using Microsoft Azure for a period of time in exchange for a reduction in cost.

Since we wrote that article, Microsoft has expanded the number of services that can use reservations beyond virtual machines to now include Azure Storage, Azure Database for MySQL, PostgreSQL, MariaDB, SQL Database, SQL Datawarehouse, and Cosmos DB, as well as Premium SSD Managed Disks storage too.

Shutdown virtual machines

Another topic that we have covered previously here is what about shutting down machines that you aren’t using at certain times of day or on certain days of the week?

If a service is only accessed by users Monday to Friday, why pay for it to run on a Saturday or a Sunday? If nobody accesses a system outside of core business hours, you’re paying for all those hours for it to sit idle so shut it down.

Work with a Microsoft Partner

Everything we’ve covered above talks about things you can do for yourself whether that be setting up billing alerts and budgets to setting up resource tags so that you can track your spend by project or department.

So what do you do if your costs are higher than expected but you’ve already done everything that we’ve listed above? Well maybe now is the time to speak to a Microsoft Partner like Arcible?

We can help you review your bill and help you with managing costs in Microsoft Azure. We can start out by reviewing what services you are consuming, what size and scale the resources are, and how you are utilizing those resources.

If you are interested in Azure Reservations or shutting down services out of hours, we can talk to you about these tings and whether those options are right or will work for you.

At Arcible, we are a Microsoft CSP Indirect Reseller so if you need a partner to help you manage your spending and billing, we can do that. If you’re looking for something long-term, we can set you up with our Arcible Vision service to enable us to help you manage your services and billing over time.

Whatever your needs in Microsoft Azure, talk to us and we can find a way to help your on your cloud journey.