Whether you're wanting to deploy a new workload in Microsoft Azure, wanting to extend an existing workload via a hybrid scenario or like me wanting to use Azure outside of work to gain more knowledge and experience, the pay-as-you-go charge model can often times intimidate and even deter many from using a cloud service like Azure. From a lab or development point of view, it is all well and good to dabble in Azure at the various tiers of engagement, but at the end of the day you could be left with a credit card bill allot larger than expected. Enter the Microsoft Azure Pricing Calculator where you can accurately estimate your potential usage for any given service.
Maximising the investment you make in Azure is key to getting the most back for every cent spent. Yes I did say cent because pay-as-you-go pricing on a minute to minute charge basis means you can be very strategic in how you utilise Azure's wealth of services. Previously when Microsoft Azure was still Windows Azure, pricing mirrored that of AWS whereby IaaS and PaaS was billed by-the-hour. There was allot of feedback received to change pricing from by-the-hour to by-the-minute billing several years ago. Since then this has been the standard practice on almost all services on Azure.
Utilising the Azure Pricing Calculator for your analysis purposes allows you to within a short period of time to estimate how much you will likely spend on any given service in any given month. The pricing calculator can assist you with choosing the right level of service for your pricing point. If you need a specific set of compute resources, then search what that looks like and calculate your per hour spend to then work out your monthly or yearly expenditure.
Rather than simply making the gut call to go with Azure as your preferred public cloud provider, use the pricing calculator to estimate the monthly cost of your workload in the cloud without spending a cent. Yes AWS also has a pricing calculator as well incase you wanted to also compare pricing between the two clouds. However, where AWS has additional frugal benefits (I won't go into in this blog post), Azure has the advantage of by-the-minute billing. You can spin up that test environment, run it for 10min and blow it away all for the price of the time you used rather than an hour block where that service isn't required for all that long. When you consider you can run a G-Series VM with 32 cores, 448GB RAM, 6TB of SSD disk for 26 minutes and spend only $4.18- thats pretty amazing (No that isn't a typo- that does say only $4). What's more amazing its only $9.65 for a whole hour of usage!
The Microsoft Azure Pricing Calculator is a web based tool where you can quickly estimate how much you'll likely spend on a variety of Azure services on a given month. Its broken down to several key categories for efficient cost analysis for that single IaaS instance you need to run, all the way through to support options on a given service in case it's your first time using the product and need an expert on hand to help you in that hour of need.
To further help customers price and pre-configure IaaS virtual machine deployments, the Azure Pricing Calculator has been expanded to include a new dedicated section for VM instances. This new calculator further expands the featureset of the original calculator to allow customers to map out their entire IaaS requirements as well as network bandwidth to realise the benefits of the Azure cloud without having to sign up for or complete any financial outlay. Its greatly beneficial for consultants or IT departments to work out the best case scenario for potential projects involving Azure IaaS.
Sidebar - Frugal Strategy
For reference I'd like to share a quick strategy that I've found very handy for being frugal. If your intended user base for your website or your IaaS instance is only ever going to be between say 7am AEST (Sydney) time, to 9pm AEST, why should you pay for hosting between 9pm and 7am daily? That's 10 hours out of 24 that you're potentially paying for a service that you're not ever (or very rarely) going to use. One strategy would be using the Azure Automation service to schedule a shutdown and startup of your IaaS instances or websites during the downtime.
To put this into perspective, let's say we have an average D4 IaaS instance with 4 cores, 14GB RAM, 200GB SSD running at $0.642 per hour. Every night (based on our 10 hours of no system use scenario) you are giving Scott Guthrie and the team at Azure $6.42. Doesn't sound like much? How about $195.275 a month? Or maybe $2,343.30 a year? You can see where this is going.
Being able to do cost analysis on your cloud expenditure is not only important but essential to accurately maximise the clouds potential. I've mentioned just a few of the ways you can use the Azure Pricing Calculator to estimate your Azure deployments cost so you can make the right call on how big a service your need or how often your service needs to run.