How much does Microsoft Azure cost?

As mentioned in our previous blog post about Microsoft Azure, many organisations are trying to move away from CAPEX to OPEX to have a faster and more flexible cost model as the business scales up or down.

The cost of migrating to Azure is one thing, it’s also important to assess and predict what your costs would be living in the cloud. Microsoft makes this relatively simple for us by providing costs for all their resources in Azure up front, so all we need is a nice way to calculate all our complicated Azure costs to give us a reasonable estimate.

As with all large changes, it’s always advisable to carry out PoC (Proof of Concept) to ensure both Azure is the right fit for your workloads, but also your cost estimates are accurate, before you dive both feet in.

So where do we start to estimate our Microsoft Azure costs? Fortunately, Microsoft publish all their Azure pricing clearly online. However, calculating the cost of Azure from a never-ending shopping list of products, services, virtual machines (VMs) etc., would baffle the best of us. For example, to print out all the options for Windows Virtual Machine pricing would take about 50, without then looking at the associated disks or other items. 

Azure Pricing Calculator

Roll in the Azure Pricing Calculator… a fast web-based tool to build your shopping list of items needed.

From here you can search for products that you need, select from the common/featured section, or drill down the left hand side navigation to list the services under specific categories like “Networking”.

Here are our top tips for using the Azure Pricing Calculator:

  • Sign in – sign in at the top right of the site to save your Azure cost estimates. 
  • Naming – always try and name the VMs, and other items in your estimate to make it clearer on the purposes of each item
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  • Export – when you have completed the estimate, export it into an Excel file to share with budget holders 
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  • Egress cost – always have at least 6GB for outbound data transfer to see the cost in the estimate. Of course, if you have more accurate figures, put those in
  • Hours – choose what operational hours you need for each service. If it’s a full month then; 744 hours = 31 days, 720 hours = 30 days and 730 hours = an average month across the year. I would advise using 744 hours in a month as a rule, to get the “worst case scenario” for budgets
  • VM Size – firstly chose the correct size of VM, there are specific models for storage, computer or memory optimised, or also general purpose sizes too. Within in each, there are several configurations. Pay particular notice to if they support certain features, like Premium SSD’s
  • Location – the cost of services such as VM’s can differ based on location. Pick a location close to your users, or meeting compliance needs. Also consider that test environments could be offshore at a cheaper location. Check
  • Currency – make sure you select your local currency to avoid any currency conversions
  • HDD type – where possible go for Premium SSD as the performance cost is not generally significant. However, if you select IOPs requirement this can increase the cost significantly 
  • Feature / type – it’s important to understand the difference in features and cost for certain services, such as VPN Gateway, as a Basic VPN would be around £20 per month, whereas a VpnGw5AZ is around £2,329 per month. With different capacities and features it’s worth knowing what you are paying for. For example, Basic VPN doesn’t support IKEv2 or RADIUS, making AlwaysOnVPN an impossible option, but VpnGw1 does supports it
  • Storage accounts – access tiers would be hot, cool, or archive. Each will cost to store and retrieve data, hot being more expensive to store, less expensive to access. Versus archive being the opposite and cool being in the middle. Also only purchase your current projected storage capacity, this can be changed in the future
  • More info – once you’ve added an item to your estimate, you can hover over the “i” for more information/links to Pricing Details (full list of options for that item and their costs), Product Details, and Documentation (quick start, troubleshooting, training, and other guides).
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  • Reserved instances – if you know your VM will be online all the time (like a domain controller), commit to either 1 year for ~37% discount, or 3 years for ~57% discount.
  • Azure hybrid benefit – if you bring your own licenses to Azure, you could save as much as 50% on some VMs.
  • Dev/test – if these VMs are for development or testing, flick the switch at the bottom of the VMs estimate to see a reduced cost for Visual Studio subscriptions. 
  • Share – you can share a URL for your Azure cost estimate if you need to send it to someone else to review.

Using the Azure Pricing Calculator with these top tips should help get an estimate of your Azure costs, but an Azure Assessment will provide a more accurate Azure cost estimate and ascertain whether your workloads are a good fit for Azure. 

To get started on your Azure journey, click on the link below to find out more about our Azure Migrate service.

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