The Price Is Right – Thanks, Azure!

Whether it’s moving your current infrastructure to the cloud, adding new Azure services to your subscription, or needing to beef up your available resources, there is always one daunting question at the forefront of everyone’s mind: How much is this going to cost? Pricing can be a pillar or killer when looking to move the ball forward with a new service or improvement to the status quo. From an engineering perspective, the urge to go with the best, most feature-packed and functionally capable option available is inevitably compelling (and usually leads to the most expensive option you can find). From a stakeholder’s perspective, being able to clearly see the anticipated costs and relate them to the benefits to justify the expenditure is all that matters. There comes a time when the two must hash it out and give a yea or nay on the purchase. The price of the resources proposed will generally either bolster the enthusiasm behind moving forward or let the air out of the metaphoric balloon. Thankfully, Microsoft Azure makes these conversations and decisions a breeze with their consumption-based pricing model, and two free tools, the Pricing Calculator and the Total Cost of Ownership Calculator, to help you understand current and potential Azure expenses.

Consumption-Based Pricing

To get the most benefit from the free pricing tools, you should first understand Azure pricing structure. Typically, pinpointing the exact cost of resources poses a challenge, especially in an on-premises environment. You’d have to compile and estimate the cost of all necessary infrastructures and the resources required to operate them now and in the future. Azure cloud computing offerings employ a consumption-based pricing structure which not only makes planning and managing the costs of resources easier, but it also reduces the number of resources required. There is no need to pay for physical infrastructure or the electricity, security, and other costs typically associated with maintaining a datacenter.

With consumption-based pricing, you pay for only the resources you need and use. This model is also known as the pay-as-you-go rate. Benefits include:

  • No upfront costs
  • No need to purchase costly infrastructure that may not be used to it fullest potential
  • The ability to scale up or down resources as needed
  • The ability to stop paying for resources that are no longer required

To accompany this model, Azure’s Pricing Calculator and Total Cost of Ownership Calculator can help you further assess and understand potential Azure expenses.

Pricing Calculator

The Pricing Calculator is designed to provide an estimated cost for provisioning resources in Azure. It can estimate the cost of an individual resource, or a solution build out. Because the focus is on provisioned resources, you can estimate the costs of any resource including compute, storage, and network costs, as well as the various options associated with those resources.

The pricing calculator makes it easy to see all Azure workloads, their description and prices, and a link to the product’s page. It also boasts the ability to save estimates for future use and customize them per customer, as well as export the estimates to Excel documents for inclusion in proposals/presentations.

Total Cost of Ownership Calculator

Are you considering migrating existing on-premises resources to Azure? The Total Cost of Ownership Calculator (TCO) will lighten the heavy lifting involved with these instances. The TCO calculator helps to compare the costs of running an on-premises infrastructure to an Azure cloud infrastructure. Working with this tool involves three steps:

  • Define the workloads
  • Adjust assumptions
  • View the report

Start by entering the details of the existing infrastructure configuration including any servers, databases, storage, etc. Then, review the anticipated costs given based on the industry average for related operational expenses – such as electricity and IT labor costs – and adjust those assumptions as you see fit. Then, a side-by-side report will be generated for comparison of the costs associated with running the same on-premises workloads in Azure. The report offers a visual representation of the costs broken down by both category and time.

Final Thoughts

Understanding, monitoring, and optimizing your costs in Azure can get complex fast as you grow to use more managed services, more virtual machines, and start provisioning resources. Azure makes conversations and decisions regarding pricing/costs easier by offering tools that allow you to calculate costs upfront and explore variations of infrastructure and workloads. The estimates generated by these tools bring clarity and transparency to help understand the pricing of services and how they are calculated. Once the engineer and stakeholder can see how much it will cost for exactly the resources they need, adopting and adapting to technological changes is much more efficient.

Tré Holland

A Cloudforce Systems Analyst, Tré specializes in providing technical support to users on all matters related to computer hardware, software, networking, and applications. Having discovered the enormous potential and opportunity at Cloudforce and beyond, Tré has set his sights on other areas of expertise such as SCCM and device management. Tré now confidently stands ready to make his mark – fixing things and making a difference – in the powerful and vast world of IT.

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