Microsoft Azure is a cloud provider offering a diverse range of services, including storage, networking, compute, and analytics. Azure services can be consumed in the Azure public cloud, on-premises, and in hybrid implementations.
The table below shows the minimal price of core Azure services, and how much you can expect to pay in an example scenario.
|Service||Pricing Factor||Starting From||Example Workload||Monthly Price|
|Linux virtual machines (VMs)||VM hourly usage||$0.004||10 VMs used for 30 days||10 * 30 * 24 * $0.004 = $28.8|
|Functions||Million executions||$0.20||Serverless function with 5 million executions per day for 30 days||30 * 5 * 0.2 = $30|
|Block Blob storage (ZRS HOT)||GB-month||$0.023||Storing 100GB in Blob Storage for 1 months||100 * $0.023 |
|Block Blob storage (ZRS COOL)||GB-month||$0.013||Storing 100GB in Blob Storage for 1 months||100 * $0.013 |
|Total cost for 10 VMs, serverless function with 5 million executions per day, and 200 GB storage||$62.4|
Azure pricing depends on many factors, including the type of service, the capacity required, the location, and the level of management. Azure offers a free tier, which provides free use of certain services for the first 12 months, and free forever usage of specific services.
The majority of Azure services can be purchased under the “pay as you go” pricing model, which charges users based on actual usage. Additionally, Azure offers significant discounts for reserved instances (which require commitment of 1 or 3 years), and spot instances (virtual machines from Azure’s spare capacity, which can be terminated at short notice).
In this article, you will learn:
Azure offers a free tier that lets companies use a variety of services free for 12 months (with a limited allowance), provides a credit for additional services in the first 30 days, and provides several services for free on an ongoing basis.
Azure provides the following services free for the first 12 months after creating an Azure account. Each service has a usage limit—for example, you can use a Windows Virtual Machine for 750 hours.
|Compute Services||Storage Services|
|Database Services||AI and Analytics Services|
If you want to use a service that is not included in the free services, or if you exceed the service limits in the free tier, Azure provides a credit of $200 which you can deduct from your first bill, during the first 30 days of usage. Beyond that, any further use of Azure services will be billed.
Yes. Certain Azure services are available free, within certain limitations, during the first 12 months. Azure also provides a $200 credit for new customers. When the first 12 months end and/or when you finish using the $200 credit, you will be charged for all Azure services you use. The only exception is services that are provided free forever (see below).
The following Azure services are always free, even after the first 12 months of use.
Keep in mind you are billed for use of other Azure resources you consume during the use of these services. For example, when deploying containers using Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), you are billed for the virtual machines or container instances that are deployed by the service. But there is no charge for AKS itself.
|Development Services||Serverless and Containers|
|Messaging, Routing and Automation||Networking|
|Data Management and Search||Other Services|
Microsoft offers three main ways to pay for Azure VMs and other cloud resources: pay as you go, reserved instances, and spot instances.
You can pay for services on Azure according to actual usage, billed per second, with no long-term commitment or upfront payments. This provides complete flexibility to increase or decrease resources as needed. Azure virtual machines (VMs) can be automatically scaled up and down using Azure’s autoscaling features.
Related content: read our guide to Azure autoscaling
This pricing model is mainly suitable for users who prefer flexibility, prefer to convert capital expenses to operating expenses, and applications with volatile or short-term workloads.
Azure provides Reserved Virtual Machine Instances (RVMI)—virtual machines that are pre-purchased for one or three years in a specific region. Committing to reserved instances in advance grants a discount of up to 72% compared to pay-as-you-go prices.
Azure provides the option to replace reserved instances with others during the commitment term. It also allows users to cancel reserved instances before the end of the term, but this incurs an early termination fee.
This pricing model is suitable for applications with stable ongoing usage, organizations who have a fixed budget, or large scale applications where a certain number of virtual machines are always in use (for example, those running the central management components).
Azure lets you buy unused computing power at a discount of up to 90% compared to pay as you go prices. However, spot instances can be interrupted on short notice, so they are considered to be suitable only for workloads that can tolerate disruptions.
Azure provides Virtual Machine Scale Sets (VMSS), an autoscaling mechanism that lets you manage groups of VMs and add spot instances automatically according to predefined policies.
Learn more in our guide to Azure spot instances
If you want to gain more control over Azure spot instances and use them for a broader range of applications, Spot by NetApp’s infrastructure automation solutions enable you to use spot instances for AKS clusters as well as non-containerized workloads, with guaranteed availability for even production and mission-critical environments.
Beyond the discounts granted by reserved instances and spot instances, Azure provides several additional options for saving cloud costs.
The Azure Hybrid Benefit program is intended for organizations that own Microsoft licenses in their on-premise data centers. If you already have Windows Server or SQL Server licenses and use them locally, you can bring those licenses to the cloud. This is known as bring your own license (BYOL).
An Azure VM running Windows or SQL Server takes into account the cost of Microsoft software licensing, so if you already have a license, you can get a discount on VM per-hour cost. Azure Hybrid Benefit applies to Windows Server VMs, SQL Server VMs, and the Azure SQL Database service.
Combined with reserved instances, Azure Hybrid Benefit provides a discount of up to 85%.
Additionally, for some versions of Windows Server and Microsoft SQL Server to Azure, you get 3 years of free security updates, without needing to extend the license.
If you use Azure service for development and testing, you are eligible to substantial discounts, including:
Price matching applies to Linux VMs (compared to EC2 compute instances), Azure Functions (compared to Amazon Lambda), and Block Blob Storage ZRS HOT / COOL tier (compared to S3 Standard / Standard-Infrequent Access tier).
Microsoft offers a variety of virtual machine sizes, divided into six categories for different use cases.
The example prices above are for Linux VMs in the West US 2 region, and are subject to change. See up-to-date pricing for Linux virtual machines and Windows virtual machines (Windows VMs are more expensive because prices include the Microsoft license).
Apart from the operating system, pricing for each VM size depends on a number of factors including the Azure region, the pricing model you select, and applicable saving options.
Azure offers several storage services, each with its own pricing model. Here are the main services:
Azure Blob Storage
Example prices above are for the West US 2 region with LRS redundancy, and are subject to change. See the official pricing page.
Azure Functions provides serverless services, which are billed according to the total monthly amount of requested executions and the consumed time.
Azure Functions offers the first 1,000,000 executions for free. Once you exceed the free allotment, the system starts billing you $0.20 per 1,000,000 executions. Note that execution time is measured in gigabyte seconds and Azure allows a minimum memory size of 128 MB.
For full details and up-to-date pricing see the official pricing page.
Azure charges for several types of networking services. Here are three of the most commonly used.
Azure Virtual Network
Azure VPN Gateway
For more details see the official pricing page.
Azure offers the following cost management tools, which you can use to estimate, plan, and optimize your cloud computing costs:
Azure Exports—can help you export reports generated in Azure. You can use Azure Exports to build custom reports and export the data in a CSV format.
Spot by NetApp allows Azure customers to reliably use Azure spot instances (VMs) for even fault-sensitive workloads.
Whenever there is a risk of spot instance interruption, Spot by NetApp will spin up new replacement spot instances in advance while gracefully draining at-risk ones. If spot instances are not available, the workload will be moved to pay-as-you-go instances. In those situations, Spot by NetApp will move workloads back to spot instances as soon as they become available. This allows Azure customers to save up to 90% on their cloud compute with guaranteed workload continuity and availability.
Learn more about Spot by NetApp for Azure.
for up to 20 instances