Module 4 - Azure Pricing and Support

Azure Subscription

Azure Subscriptions

  • An Azure Subscription is a logical unit of Azure services that linked to Azure account
  • An account can have one or multiples subscription that have different billing models and access management policies.
  • Subscription boundaries:
    • Billing boundary - how Azure account is billed
    • Access control boundary - access-management policies can be applied at subscription level

Subscription Offers

  • Free account
    • 12 months of popular services
    • $200 credit to explore any Azure services for 30 days
      • Services are disabled after credit exhausts.
      • You can upgrade to remove spending limit
    • 25+ services that are always free
    • You need a phone number and a credit or debit card and an account (GitHub or Microsoft)
    • After upgrade, for 12 months, you get certain amount of popular products for free then you're billed at standard pay-as-you-go rate.
  • Pay-As-You-Go - Pay for what you use
  • Member offers - You have existing membership to certain Microsoft products and services
    • Can apply Azure account at reduced rate
  • See this page for more information about offers

Management Group

  • Organizing resource in 4 levels:
    • Management groups
      • a container that you manage access, policy, compliance for multiple subscriptions
      • up to 10,000 groups in a single directory
      • Can have 6 level in depth excluding root and subscription level
    • Subscriptions
      • Group user accounts and resources
      • There are limits or quotas on amount of resources you can create and use
    • Resource groups
      • Logical container for Azure resources
    • Resources

Planning and Managing Cost

Purchasing Azure Products and Services

  • 3 main customer types:
    • Enterprise
      • With an enterprise agreement that commit to spend a negotiated amount
      • Pay annually
      • Access to customized pricing
    • Web direct
      • Public prize
      • Billed monthly
    • Cloud solution provider (CSP)
      • Microsoft partner that customer hires to build solutions on Azure
      • Payment and billing done via CSP
  • Explore flexible purchasing options for Azure

Factors  Affecting Costs

  • Usage meter
    • Meter is created automatically for created resource
    • It tracks usage of the resource and generate usage records that will be used to calculate the bill
  • Resource Types
    • Each meter tracks specific type of usage e.g. bandwidth, number of operations, size
  • Services
    • Usage rate and billing period can differ between customer types
    • Product and services from third-party in the marketplace may have billing structure
  • Location
    • Cost vary by location
    • Trade off between lower cost location vs. cost of transferring data between resources
  • More information about Azure usage charges on this page

Zones for Billing

  • Bandwidth = data moving in or out of Azure data center
    • Some inbound data are free
    • Outbound data pricing based on Zones:
      • Zone 1 - West US, East US, Canada West, West Europe, France Central and others
      • Zone 2 - Australia Central, Japan West, Central India, Korea South and others
      • Zone 3 - Brazil South
      • DE Zone 1 - Germany Central, Germany Northeast
  • Billing Zone is not the same as Availability Zone

Pricing Calculator

  • Pricing Calculator can help you estimate the cost (not actual) of Azure products by adjusting different configuration options:
    • Region
    • Tier - Free, Basic, Standard, etc.
    • Billing Options - different types of customer or subscription
    • Support options - you can select paid support
    • Programs and Offers - Different price offering
    • Azure Dev/Tst Pricing - only subscription based on Dev/Tst offer

Total Cost of Ownership Calculator

  • TCO Calculator is used to estimate the cost saving  by migrating to Azure
  • Steps:
    • 1. Define workloads of your on-premise infrastructure
    • 2. Adjust assumptions for different types of costs
    • 3. View the report compares the cost of your on-premise infrastructure vs. Azure products and services

Minimizing Costs

  • Perform cost analysis - plan wisely
  • Monitor usage with Azure Advisor
    • Identify unused or under-utilized resources
  • Use spending limits
    • prevent from exhausting the credit. If reach the limit, Azure suspends your subscription
    • Not available for non-credit-based customers i.e. Pay-As-You-Go offer
    • Spending limit is not the same as resource/service limit and quota
  • Use Azure Reservation
    • Offer discounted price on certain products or services by reserve it and pay it in advance
    • Only available for CSP, Enterprise, and Pay-As-You-Go customers
  • Choose low-cost locations and regions
    • Watch out for outgoing network bandwidth (egress) that will be charged for some certain products and service. Provision resources in the same region will eliminate egress cost.
  • Research available cost-saving offer
  • Apply tags to identify cost owner e.g. by department

Azure Cost Management

  • Cost Management provides set of tools for monitoring, allocating, and optimizing  costs.
  • Provided tools:
    • Reporting - Use history data to forecast future cost
    • Data Enrichment - categorizing resources by tags
    • Budgets and alert
    • Recommendation - to eliminate idle resources
  • Free to use

Azure Support Options

Support Plan Options

  • Free access to the following services:
    • Billing and subscription support
    • Azure products and services documentation
    • Online self-help documentation
    • Whitepapers
    • Community support forums
  • Four paid Azure supported plans:
    • Basic
      • For billing and subscription support
      • 24x7 online help and documentation and support forums
      • Full list of Azure Advisor recommendations
    • Developer
      • For trial and non-production environments
      • Accessible to engineer by email during service hours
    • Standard
      • For production workloads
      • 24x7 accessible to engineer by email or phone
    • Professional Direct
      • Architecture guidance by ProDirect Delivery Manager
      • On-boarding services
      • Azure Engineering web seminar

Alternative Support Channels

Knowledge Center

Azure Service Level Agreement (SLAs)

Service Level Agreement (SLAs)

  • SLA defines performance targets for Azure products and services and specific to each of them
  • Ranging from 99.9 ("three nines") to 99.99 ("four nines") percent
    • 99.9% SLA can have cumulative downtime of 1.68 hours per week
    • 99.99% SLA can have cumulative downtime of 1.01 minutes per week
  • Example : Azure Database for MySQL service guarantees 99.99 percent uptime
  • If the actual uptime is less than specified SLA target, Azure refund as credit amount
    • <99.9 = 10%
    • <99 = 25%
    • <95 = 100%
  • No SLA target for many services under Free or Shared tier e.g. Azure Advisor

Composite SLAs

  • Result from combining SLA from different services
  • Example:
    • App Service Web Apps is 99.95%
    • SQL Database is 99.99%
    • Composite SLA is 99.95% x 99.99% = 99.94%
  • The combined probability of failure value is always lower than the individual SLA values.
  • You can design or architect your application for more resiliency but it has trade-off:
    • application logic more complex
    • more cost
    • data-consistency issue 

Application SLAs

  • Creating your own application SLA, you need to consider:
    • Identify workload for each logically separated tasks
    • Plan for usage pattern - critical and non-critical periods
    • Establish availability metrics
      • Mean Time to Recovery (MTTR) = Average time it takes to restore a component after a failure
      • Mean Time between Failures (MTBF) =  How long a component can reasonably expect to last between outages
    • Establish recovery metrics
      • Recovery time objective (RTO) = The maximum acceptable time an application can be unavailable after an incident
      • Recovery point objective (RPO) = The maximum duration of data loss that is acceptable during a disaster
    • Implement resiliency strategies = The ability of a system to recover from failures and continue to function
    • Build availability requirements 
      • Availability = The proportion of time your system is functional and working
    • 99.99% are going to be very difficult to achieve

Service Lifecycle in Azure

Public and Private Preview Features

  • Private Preview = Azure feature is available to certain Azure customers for evaluation purposes
  • Public Preview = Azure feature is available to ALL Azure customers for evaluation purposes
  • Some Azure previews are not covered by customer support
  • Preview features can be accessed by searching for preview
  • Some preview features relate to a specific area of an existing Azure Service e.g. Kubernetes preview versions
  • Preview features or functionality may not yet be ready for production deployments

Azure Portal Preview

General Availability (GA)

Monitoring Service and Feature Updates

  • Azure Updates provides information about the latest updates to Azure products, services, and features as well as product roadmaps and announcements