Azure Pricing Demystified

We’ve had some questions lately about Azure pricing, and specifically how they price their backups.  Hopefully this helps to shed some light on the subject.  While nobody (even Microsoft) can tell you ahead of time exactly how much your server or backups will cost, I hope this gives you enough information to gain a level of comfort with how billing is done.

Azure Hosted Servers

Most of the pricing for Azure is pretty straightforward.  It is different than what we’re used to in IT however, so it’s worth discussing.  The basic principal to remember is that it’s essentially priced like utilities.  They break down the cost of processing, memory, storage, and bandwidth to unit pricing and bill you for what you use in a given month.

That’s the most important thing to remember.  Where a lot of folks get caught up is in all the options available.  There are literally hundreds of server configurations you have to choose from.  You can customize an instance with more memory or processing power.  You can specify if you want your server in geographically redundant data centers.  You can pay more for high availability.

This can get daunting if you have a bunch of servers you want to move.  You want to fit the resources to the need so that you don’t overpay.  The problem is that it could take a LOT of meticulous research to monitor and record usage over time so you know what to buy.

The good news is that you don’t have to.

Azure Evaluation Tools

Microsoft has anticipated this need and potential sales objection and they’ve done their best to make it easy for us.  They have a pretty slick Azure evaluation tool that you can install.  Then you simply let it run collecting data.  The longer the better, but 7 days usually gets you accurate data.

Then it will spit out a report with everything you need to know.  It will tell you detailed usage.  There is data on exactly what configured it recommends for each of your VM’s based on that usage.  It also gives you an estimate of what the cost will be.  It even spits all of this data out in a slick easy to read report.

This is by far the best way to accurately evaluate what servers you will need and what it will cost to host them with Azure.  Microsoft has had great success with public cloud because it does it really well.

Azure Migration Tools

Once you’ve taken a close look at the servers you will need you have to figure out how to get them to Azure.  Most businesses don’t tolerate a high amount of downtime, so finding a way to minimize downtime while migrating your servers to the cloud is key.

Microsoft is prepared for this again.  They have a nice migration tool that will evaualte your current servers compatability in Azure.  In addition it will allow you to lift and shift your servers from their currnet location to Azure.  There are some limitations of course, but we’ve found it to be a pretty slick tool and a huge time saver.

Now that your VM’s have been moved to the Azure platform you can test functionality and ensure that everything is working.  Once you’ve ensured it is you can cut things over and go live on the new platform.  Smooth tranisiton plans should be a key for any public cloud you’re considering.

Azure Pricing Demystified – Backups

There has been some folks slightly mystified with how Microsoft bills for backups in Azure.  I hope to put it as clearly as I know how and shed some light.

Essentially there are two things you pay for with Azure backups.  The first is the backup service itself.  The second is storage for those backups.

The backup service is billed by server size using a tiered system.  If your server is less than  or equal to 50 GB it costs $5/mo.  If it is bigger than 50 and less than 500 GB it costs $10/mo.  If it’s bigger than 500 GB you pay $10 for earch 500 GB increment.

Size Of Each InstanceAzure Backup Price Per Month
Instance < or = 50 GB$5 + Storage Consumed
Instance > 50 GB but < or = 500GB$10 + Storage Consumed
Instance > 500 GB$10 for each 500 GB increment + Storage Consumed

So that’s the first piece.  Backup service.  In addition you’ll be paying for all the storage you use.

Storage pricing is done per GB depending on the level of redundancy you desire.  There are 3 levels of storage you can choose from for backups.  Locally Redundant Storage or LRS, Geo-Redundant Storage or GRS, and finally Read-Access Geo-Redundant Storage or RA-GRS.  Here is pricing for the different storage levels.

Storage in GB/Month$0.0224 per GB$0.0448 per GB$0.0569 per GB

To find the total cost of backups you simply add together the cost of the backup service and the cost of storage.  If you have a 200 GB server and want to use GRS storage it would look like this.

$10 for Backup Service (More than 50 GB, but less than 500 GB)

$8.96/mo for backup storage (200 GB x $0.0448)

Total cost of backing up that 200 GB server in Azure would be $18.96.  Obviously this price will fluctuate a bit with as the data grows or shrinks, but that gives you a good ballpark to work with.

Azure Pricing Demystified – We can help

i.t.NOW is ready to help with any of your Azure migration questions.  We appreciate the complexity a move like this can represent, and have the skills to assist and make it as seamless as possible.  Give us a call today with any of your Azure questions.  We’re happy to help.