How to estimate and save cost with Azure cloud services?

Author: Anna Dyda

Estimating the actual costs of provisioning IT environments in Azure can prove to be complex. Now, when cloud computing can bring significant benefits for every industry, it’s more and more important to be able to estimate and save costs with Azure cloud services.

To put it simply, no matter what business you are in, and regardless of enterprise size, cloud computing offers measurable benefits at reasonable cost. Such benefits can not only increase profits but also inspire innovation.

Cloud solutions and their hidden costs

One of the most often-cited obstacles preventing cloud computing deployment and adoption in the enterprise is the uncertainty of cost—both in the initial cost of deployment and in the recurring cost of daily use. Microsoft is attempting to alleviate this common obstacle by providing a cost calculator for its suite of cloud computing solutions known as Azure.

During your professional career there might be a certain moment when you face this task for the first time – how to explain to the customer how much money he is going to spend setting up infrastructure, on software licenses or developer tools.

What to do when the client asks you: How much are we really going to pay yearly for the website? Several years ago, there were two ways to estimate it:

  • Use a Web Hosting Provider
  • Purchase your own server

Estimating the cost at that point was not very complicated because most of the providers had their own pricing tables sorted by capacity with detailed fixed price per month or per year.

The cost of not getting it right

It’s true that nowadays, in the could computing age we deal with many distinct scenarios, providers and services. That’s why we need to be careful when answering questions about cost estimation.

What can happen when you don’t consider all the details and variables? First steps in the cloud computing world with Azure can prove to be tricky.

It is a part of developer’s DNA to always want to work with the latest technologies. That was definitely the case of solutions based on Azure cloud service when they first became available and popular several years ago.

At that time, it was fun to work with cloud services. At the same time, as it happens with new services, you might have made some mistakes like not setting up the correct configuration. That would easily increase the cost of your service by even 50%. Not being aware of the tools provided by Azure could be quite costly.

Azure tools that make it easier

Not having enough knowledge regarding estimating the cost of your service may lead to a situation where you run out of the budget. So…how to get the most accurate cost estimation? The two following scenarios are the ones we face when asked “how much does it cost?”:

  • Build a new application
  • Migrate/Upgrade a new application

The first one is fairly easy because Azure provides a pricing calculator  in which one is able to pick all services the solution requires and  get the estimated cost. Of course, this cost can vary depending on many factors such as the date in which you buy the services, currency, instances of the services and the regions.

Photo: Microsoft


When we come across the second scenario, we have first to know all the details regarding the actual infrastructure working on our customer side. Once we have this information we can take advantage of the Total Cost Ownership Calculator. This tool allows us to register our current configuration and it creates a comparison based on Azure Services to estimate how much we could save and spend using the cloud services.

photo: Microsoft

At this point we can think that we are ready to present some valuable information to our customer or project manager and adjust our budget or project given this estimation. Is that enough though? It is actually possible that we opt for a service which is more than enough for us. It is important to know that Azure also helps you find out on which services you can save money in case your configuration has more power than the one you really need. That useful tool is called Azure Advisor.

Azure Advisor is a free service which provides recommendations about already deployed services in your account. Based on your usage, Azure advisor can help you can have the following recommendations:

  • Buy reserved instances of virtual machines and what could be the estimated saving
  • Resize underutilized virtual machines

Photo: Microsoft


All in all, in many cases, enterprises can save money with cloud computing, but estimating cloud costs may be challenging at times. In order to avoid any surprises, it is extremely important to estimate the costs prior to migration.

Want to know more about Azure? Stay tuned for more insights and tips.

Author: Mario Alberto González Hernández, .NET Senior Developer in NATEK

Mario is a software developer experienced in Microsoft technologies with more than 10 years of experience. 


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