Azure Cost Management and Billing updates – August 2021

Whether you’re a new student, a thriving startup, or the largest enterprise, you have financial constraints, and you need to know what you’re spending, where, and how to plan for the future. Nobody wants a surprise when it comes to the bill, and this is where Azure Cost Management and Billing comes in.

Source: Azure Cost Management and Billing updates – August 2021

We’re always looking for ways to learn more about your challenges and how Azure Cost Management and Billing can help you better understand where you’re accruing costs in the cloud, identify and prevent bad spending patterns, and optimize costs to empower you to do more with less. Here are a few of the latest improvements and updates based on your feedback:

Let’s dig into the details.


New download options in the cost analysis preview

Despite best-laid plans, our cloud journey doesn’t always go as planned and it’s easy for the cost to get away from us. Maybe we scaled up, forgot to shut down a VM, or deployed more resources to meet new requirements. Whatever the reason, cost analysis should be your first stop when you need to break down your costs to understand what you’re spending and where. Of course, there are also times when you need to download this summarized data for additional reporting and analysis outside the portal. Cost analysis has always allowed you to download your data as CSV or Excel and also offered a link to create an automated export of your raw data. Now, the cost analysis preview takes that a step further.

The cost analysis preview is an early look at the future of analytics and insights in Azure Cost Management and Billing. There’s still a lot coming, like charts and filters, but many are finding it to be a better place to review their resource, resource group, subscription, and reservation costs. While the cost analysis preview doesn’t have all the customization options yet, it does offer a more detailed breakdown of your cost at first glance. That may be the subscriptions and resource groups within your billing account, resources and meters within a resource group, or even amortized reservation costs broken down by resource for more streamlined chargeback. Whatever the need, the cost analysis preview now offers the same familiar download experience with a few enhancements.

First, you’ll notice the download pane has tabs allowing you to either download a file, view your data in Power BI, or automate the download. When you Download a file, you can choose either Excel or CSV, similar to the current experience. But what’s new is the option to include nested data. This option gives you more control of the data, allowing you to decide whether to include the nested resource groups, resources, or meters in your download. On the Resources view, as an example, downloading without nested details will give you one row for each resource. Downloading with nested details will give you a row for every individual resource meter. This is a lot more data but includes the additional details you may need to break costs down.

Download a file option available from the cost analysis preview

You may not see the option to Open in Power BI. This is because Power BI is only available for Enterprise Agreement (EA) and Microsoft Customer Agreement (MCA) billing accounts and billing profiles. If you select your billing account or billing profile within the scope picker, you’ll find quick instructions for how to use the Azure Cost Management template app or Power BI Desktop connector in Power BI. The scope ID is provided here for convenience when setting things up in Power BI.

Open in Power BI option available in the Download pane from the cost analysis preview

Lastly, the Automate the download tab allows you to either schedule a recurring export to a storage account or integrate with the UsageDetails API to get raw, unfiltered cost data.

Download automation instructions for scheduled exports and API integration available in the Download pane from the cost analysis preview

These are just a few of the enhancements available in the cost analysis preview. While there’s a lot more coming, we’d love to get your feedback and see what you’d like to see next. How can we make cost analysis even better for you?


More management operations available in Configuration

Last month, you were introduced to an updated Configuration screen that better-organized configuration settings and bubbled up your billing policy status for Cost Management, Reservations, and Marketplace. This month, you’ll find some additional commands to help you quickly manage your subscriptions and resource groups without leaving the Cost Management hub.


This should help streamline your workflow for any management tasks. Maybe you want to rename a subscription to better represent it in cost analysis or cancel a subscription that you’re no longer using. Maybe you spotted an expensive resource group that isn’t being used anymore. All these actions and more are available from Configuration. If you need anything more, simply click the Go to subscription command to get into the full management experience.

Let us know what you think about these new commands and the central cost configuration screen as a whole. We’re always eager to learn more about what works well for you and what can be improved.


Help shape the future of Azure Cost Management and Billing

Are you responsible for purchasing reservations or managing subscriptions and recurring charges in Microsoft Azure? If so, we would love to get your feedback on a few changes we’re considering:

  • New design enhancements to the reservation purchase flow.
  • New naming and terminology for recurring charges.

Each session should take about 20 minutes. If you are interested in participating, please contact our research team and we’ll schedule you for a remote usability session.


Azure Government Top Secret is now generally available

Tom Keane announced the general availability of Azure Government Top Secret for US national security organizations. This is an important step in our journey to deliver best-in-class cloud solutions for ultimate productivity, even across classified networks. And all this comes with native Azure Cost Management and Billing capabilities ready to go. Read the full Azure Government Top Secret announcement for more details.


Accelerate your Azure migration and modernization journey

Tanuj Bansal introduced you to:

  • Azure Migration and Modernization Program (AMMP), an evolution of the Azure Migration Program.
  • Free extended security updates for Windows Server and SQL Server on Azure.
  • Enhanced Azure migration and modernization tools, from virtual machine and App Service containers to Azure Arc support for Azure SQL and Azure Lighthouse.

Read the full details about the expanded programs and offers and don’t forget to check out Tanuj’s Microsoft Inspire session, which is free to watch online.


Optimize your cloud spend with Azure

Organizations are looking into digital transformation now more than ever and the speed of innovation can make a significant difference in your growth trajectory. While presenting new opportunities, the challenges created by digital transformation are unique. You need better ways to balance the pace of innovation with the need for agility while managing costs, maintaining control, and meeting increasingly rigorous standards around security and compliance.

One topic that comes up frequently in our conversations is the need to forecast, monitor, manage, and optimize your cloud costs better throughout the cloud adoption journey. Read Optimize your cloud spend with Azure to learn about how Azure Cost Management and Billing, Azure Advisor, and the Azure pricing calculator can help you accomplish this. You’ll also learn about how Microsoft Customer Agreement delivers globally consistent pricing to better assist in predicting and monitoring your costs.


What’s new in Cost Management Labs

With Cost Management Labs, you get a sneak peek at what’s coming in Azure Cost Management and can engage directly with us to share feedback and help us better understand how you use the service, so we can deliver more tuned and optimized experiences. Here are a few features you can see in Cost Management Labs:

  • New: Download options in the cost analysis preview – Now available in the public portal
    The cost analysis preview now supports downloading a more complete dataset and opting to either include or exclude the nested details. You can also learn how to set up Power BI (when available), automate exports, or use Cost Management APIs through the same experience.
  • Updated: More management operations available in Configuration – Now available in the public portal
    The Configuration screen now includes additional commands to help you quickly manage your subscriptions and resource groups without leaving the Cost Management hub. You can rename or cancel subscriptions, delete resource groups, and more, all from a central configuration screen. Let us know what you think.
  • New: Usability updates in the cost analysis preview – Now available in the public portal
    Many people check costs at the beginning of the month to see how the previous month ended. To better assist in this, the cost analysis preview now shows the previous month by default on the first two days of the month. Of course, any other months are one click away using the forward/back buttons within the date picker. You’ll also find improved paging controls to better align with the rest of the Azure portal.
  • View cost for your resources
    The cost for your resources is one click away from the resource overview in the preview portal. Just click View cost to quickly jump to the cost of that particular resource.
  • Change scope from the menu
    Change scope from the menu for quicker navigation. You can opt-in using Try Preview. Share feedback about this preview.
  • Open configuration items in the main menu
    This is an experimental option to show the selected configuration screen as a nested menu item in the Cost Management menu. You can opt-in using Try Preview from Cost Management LabsShare feedback about this preview.
  • Streamlined Cost Management menu
    Only show settings in Configuration. Remove Cloudyn, Exports, and Connectors for AWS from the Cost Management menu. You can opt-in using Try Preview from Cost Management LabsShare feedback about this preview.

Of course, that’s not all. Every change in Azure Cost Management is available in Cost Management Labs a week before it’s in the full Azure portal. We’re eager to hear your thoughts and understand what you’d like to see next. What are you waiting for? Try Cost Management Labs today.


New ways to save money with Azure

Lots of cost optimization improvements over the past month!


Documentation updates

Here are a few documentation updates you might be interested in:

Want to keep an eye on all of the documentation updates? Check out the Cost Management and Billing doc change history in the azure-docs repository on GitHub. If you see something missing, select Edit at the top of the document and submit a quick pull request.

What’s next?

These are just a few of the big updates from last month. Don’t forget to check out the previous Azure Cost Management and Billing updates. We’re always listening and making constant improvements based on your feedback, so please keep the feedback coming.

Follow @AzureCostMgmt on Twitter and subscribe to the YouTube channel for updates, tips, and tricks. You can also share ideas and vote up others in the Cost Management feedback forum or join the research panel to participate in a future study and help shape the future of Azure Cost Management and Billing.

We know these are trying times for everyone. Best wishes from the Azure Cost Management and Billing team. Stay safe and stay healthy.

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