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Microsoft Launches Azure Cost Management Tools

Microsoft cloud customers with government and "pay-as-you-go" subscriptions can now take advantage of the new Azure Cost Management feature, which became generally available this week.

Azure Cost Management provides dashboard views of costs per month, along with some analysis tools, which can be accessed from within the Azure Portal. It lets users save the data as comma-separated value (CSV) files for use in spreadsheets. The data can be exported to an Azure Storage account on a recurring basis, too, according to this Microsoft "Tutorial" document. There's also an API that can be tapped by various software programs for cost analyses.

The Azure Cost Management tools let organizations view "accumulated costs over time to estimate monthly, quarterly or even yearly cost trends against budget," according to Microsoft's "Quickstart" document. To use Azure Cost Management, organizations need to have read access set up for billing, department, enrollment account, management group, subscription and resource group for the account, according to that document. IT pros can create a budget in the Azure Portal, which can then be plotted against Azure resource spending data.

While general availability implies Microsoft's approval for commercial use, the Azure Cost Management feature still has a few limitations. Pay-as-you-go users don't yet have the means of analyzing Azure Marketplace solution costs, nor can they analyze Power BI Content Pack data. They also can only analyze data from "September 2018 and later," and would have to use the Usage Details API for earlier data.

Azure Government and pay-as-you-go users also both can't currently analyze Azure Reserved Instances data, Microsoft's announcement added.

Of course, Azure Cost Management doesn't have any traditional IT management capabilities at all. The point was noted by Wes Miller, an analyst with independent consultancy Directions on Microsoft.

"Azure Cost Management is one of the worst names ever created for an Azure service or capability," Miller opined in a Twitter post. He proposed a few other names that might make it clearer that it's used for viewing Azure cost or spending trends.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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