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Microsoft Azure Adds More Cloud Cost Management Features

The cost of using public cloud continues to be a challenges for enterprises.

Jeffrey Burt

April 24, 2019

4 Min Read
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Enterprises that use the Microsoft Azure pay-as-you-go model and government agencies leveraging the public cloud now have a new tool to help them better manage their cloud-associated costs.

Azure officials this week announced the general availability of new features in the Azure Cost Management suite within the Azure portal designed to help both pay-as-you-go and Azure government users analyze the data around costs, develop budgets around their cloud usage and move preconfigured reports to on-premises systems for deeper analysis. Customers also can get help reconciling their monthly invoices through the Azure portal,

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Microsoft’s Adam Wise

The goal is to “greatly enhance your ability to analyze and proactively manage your cloud costs,” Adam Wise, program manager II for the Azure Intelligence unit, wrote in a blog.

The new features come as organizations continue to migrate more of their workloads to public clouds, with many increasingly using more than one cloud service provider (CSP). Recent studies have found that enterprises are rapidly embracing strategies around multicloud and hybrid clouds, where they use both public clouds and on-premises private clouds for their applications and data.

Flexera’s RightScale 2019 State of the Cloud report found that 84% of enterprises have a multicloud strategy, while 69% are using a hybrid cloud model. At the same time, spending on cloud services and infrastructure continues to grow.

However, improving visibility into these complex environments and controlling costs continue to be challenges, according to a recent report from Kentik, a network analytics technology vendor. In a survey, 30% of respondents said that cost management was the most significant challenge. Among the concerns were development teams embracing the cloud without fully understanding the associated costs and not having the data or visibility needed to allocate costs to individual departments, which is needed as organizations develop processes and controls that work with the pay-as-you-go nature of cloud pricing.

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Moor Insights’ Patrick Moorhead

“Cost management is critical when working with a CSP,” Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst with Moor Insights and Strategy, told Channel Futures. “The resources are so easy to consume and therefore it’s easy to run up a bill.”

Moorhead noted that cloud providers like Azure and Amazon Web Services have released tools to help customers better manage their cloud costs, adding that “most enterprises realize that there is a learning curve that goes into managing cost.”

In a recent blog, Moorhead said that determining potential infrastructure cost savings was a key factor as enterprise weigh which cloud service provider to go with.

“Unpacking and measuring your organization’s infrastructure costs is essential to determining the right cloud solution to suit your needs,” the analyst wrote, adding that infrastructure costs include server, networking, storage and facilities. “It’s easy to run up a major cloud tab (many have), and the key is to have a transparent cost-management and governance approach.”

Channel partners also have a role to play, Moorhead said. As organizations move deeper into the cloud, the channel can be a conduit to different cloud service providers helping their customers manage the myriad aspects that come with using multiple providers and migratimg between public and on-premises clouds.

Through the new features in Azure Cost Management, customers can download a cvs file that can be used to reconcile their charges with their invoices, Wise wrote. The cloud provider also is enabling users to access the download file via a new API available to developers. A cost analysis feature enables users to track costs throughout a month and then analyze the data, and a budgeting capability lets enterprises proactively manage costs and improve accountability within their companies.

In addition, Azure is enabling users to export cost data to an Azure storage account using the CSP’s new export feature.

“You can use this data in external systems and combine it with your own data to maximize your cost management capabilities,” Wise wrote. 

Azure also is planning a range of other features for future releases, including expanding the reach of support for pay-as-you-go customers from only native Azure resources to the those available on the Azure Marketplace, including recurring charges. The provider also will include feature support for Azure Reserved instances and the Power BI Content Pack in upcoming releases.

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