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Azure Development Environment - Control the bill


Azure Development Environment Series:


When you have a development team that is working on an application that is hosted (or is using) on Azure you need to be aware of the costs that are generated by Azure Services.
Even if the costs can be low at the beginning, if you have a big team the costs can increase. For example if one developer needs 3 Worker Roles, 2 instances of SQL Azure and 2 different namespaces of Azure Service Bus you can have a monthly costs of 100 EUR. But if you add 6 more people, you will add automatically another 600 EUR at your bill.

Review Azure Bill
To be able to control these costs, you should have a person that is responsible to check the Azure bill every month. This person should not look only at the final cost, but it should look on what services are generating the costs and try to drill down on the most expensive one or the ones that increase too much from one month to another.
It is important to be aware that the scope is not to identify the person that generates the extra costs. More important is to understand why the extra costs is generated and if it is normal or not.
You can make an idea of the usage and the cost of each service usage directly from the billing portal.


How to analyze Azure Bill
The new report that is generated from the billing portal contains a section called 'Statement'. This is the first section that we should analyze. I usually order this section by value and extract the top 5.



Once we do this, we can investigate further, each of them in the next section of the report, that contains also the instance name of the resource that generated the cost, when and so on. Based on this data we can find out easily what generated the costs.


In the above example I filtered the results to see only the Service Bus resources. The last column in the right contains the name of the namespace (service) that made the consumption.
More about this can be found here: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/articles/billing-understand-your-bill/

New Portal
The new portal gives us the ability to see a chart with the current bill, splitted on the type of the service that generated the cost (Compute, TH, ...).

There is also a burn chart that can indicate you that the costs are increasing too fast.

Both reports are useful, but they provide you only an overview. If you want to find more information about what generated the cost you will need to use the Usage Details report that contains all the information that are necessary to identify what generated that costs.

Azure Alerts
This is one of the most important thing that you should do if you don't want to have surprises. From the billing portal we can define alerts that can be sent automatically when the total billing reaches a specific value.

In this way, you can take actions before a disaster and control the costs. This feature is in preview mode, you should activate it if you want to play with it - https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/preview/

Tracking
To be able to track more easily what resources are created by each team member, you can use prefix in front of the name of each service instance. The prefix can be the initials of the team member.
For example in my case it would be (Radu Vunvulea - rv):

  • rvdemostorage
  • rvsbtestnamespace
  • rviotstorage
Conclusion
You should always track the billing costs and know what are the services that are generating the costs. Also, try to find methods that would allow you to track the purpose of different resources. A resource named 'abc' would not help you.



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