Best Azure Cost Management Tools

Azure’s services range from processing power and storage space to access rights management and databases. The charging rates for these services mean you only pay for the capacity that you use. However, most services have a composite fee calculation structure that can be difficult to work out by yourself.

You can take a look at the current status of your account because Azure constantly updates your balance as the month ticks by. However, remembering to keep looking at the account can be difficult and there are better ways to track Azure costs without having to perform manual checks.

Here is our list of the seven best Azure cost management tools:

  1. Serverless360 EDITOR’S CHOICE This cloud service creates an application stack, combining information about multiple Azure accounts and linking together their usage. This enables you to package the cost contributions of each service to each application, giving you a live display of costs for that group. Access a 15-day free trial.
  2. Microsoft Cost Management for Azure (FREE TOOL) This native tool is provided by Azure to its subscribers for free. This adds analytical tools to your account dashboard.
  3. VMWare CloudHealth Use this tool to set up a series of alerts that trigger notifications over usage levels or impose emergency usage caps.
  4. Apptio Cloudability With this cloud-based system, you can tag your Azure resource usage so that the costs are properly allocated to each business department. This is also a useful cost tracking system for managed service providers.
  5. myCloudDoctor This cost allocation system is delivered from the Azure platform and you can get it in the Azure Marketplace. It will enable you to split out the charges and track usage on shared Azure resources.
  6. nOps This is a cloud platform management system that combines performance and usage tracking with cost analysis. Map your Azure infrastructure across accounts and allocate its costs.
  7. Nebula OneView Track Azure utilization and compare the prices of alternative platforms live through the month. Forecasting lets you estimate your month-end bill.

The solution to efficient Azure cost management lies with automation. There are now several excellent systems available on the market that will track your Azure bill overall and identify trends in service usage so that you can better plan your budget.

The Best Azure Cost Management Tools

What should you look for in Azure cost management systems? 

We reviewed the market for Azure cost management tools and analyzed the options based on the following criteria:

  • Integration with the Azure platform
  • The option to extract data for use in other applications
  • A usage analysis and forecasting tool
  • A tool to compare the cost of alternative services
  • Consolidated tracking for multiple accounts
  • A free trial or demo system for a no-cost assessment opportunity
  • A paid tool that is worth the money because it provides savings through efficiency or a good free tool

Taking these selection criteria as guidelines, we looked for cost-tracking systems and performance monitors that can interface with the Azure platform.

1. Serverless360 (FREE TRIAL)

Serverless360 Azure Monitoring

Serverless360 is a cloud-based platform of three tools that fit together so that you can fully understand how your Azure services work and whether you are getting value for money. The Serverless360 system is specifically designed to work with Azure, so it can extract usage data from the platform and extrapolate monthly costs.

Key Features:

  • Application dependency mapping
  • The creation of virtual applications
  • Cost tracking per functional group
  • Cost aggregation
  • Azure invoice predictions

First, you would use the Resource Map of Serverless360 to work out exactly which services contribute to which end-user applications. The package builds up a hierarchy of services and shows how they fit together. With this information, you can start to correctly allocate Azure platform charges to specific projects and products.

Serverless360 works across Azure subscriptions, so you don’t need to worry that a big chunk of costs has been left out of the calculations. The platform identifies groups of services that constitute an application and this is called a “scope.” You can then see the cost for that scope on an ongoing basis. The cost calculation aggregates all of the costs for all of the elements that make up that scope, distributing the cost for each service according to the percentage of total usage that was dedicated to that specific scope.

The dashboard includes report adjustment filters. For example, you can set a From and To date and then the costs shown per scope will adjust to account for that period.

Pros:

  • Identifies the percentage of a service that is used by a product
  • Sums up all of the cost elements of a virtual package
  • Shows a summary of all Azure costs
  • Provides a per application Azure cost prediction
  • Also implements performance tracking

Cons:

  • Doesn’t extend to other cloud platforms

You can register to access a 15-day free trial.

EDITOR’S CHOICE

Serverless360 is our top pick for an Azure cost management system because it can provide full performance tracking of your Azure systems as well as support cost analysis. With this tool, you can get a dependency map of all of the Azure services to which you subscribe and see how they link together. Taking this information, you can work out where all of the demand for specific services is coming from. The Serverless360 system does all of the allocation and aggregation work for you by identifying all of the costs that contribute to a package and displaying that cost in the system dashboard.

Official Site: https://www.serverless360.com/signup

OS: Cloud-based

2. Microsoft Cost Management for Azure (FREE TOOL)

Microsoft Cost Management for Azure

Microsoft Cost Management for Azure is provided for free to Azure customers. This service shows all of your subscriptions on one screen, enabling you to zoom in on one particular service to gain detailed information. The only reason this system isn’t in our number one slot is that it isn’t able to distribute costs by end-use.

Key Features:

  • Native to Azure
  • Free to use
  • Aggregates multiple subscriptions
  • Predicts bill amounts

The analytical functions of the tool can spot surges in demand and identify trend growth in resource usage. The system can aggregate total costs across subscriptions and it presents cost data in colorful graphs and charts, which make trend recognition very easy.

The Microsoft Cost Management service isn’t just for Azure cost tracking, it can also include AWS subscriptions in its calculations. However, AWS cost tracking has a charge that is levied as 1 percent of your AWS charge for the month.

Pros:

  • Provides filtering utilities for date ranges
  • Allows previous months’ data to be analyzed
  • Provides live cost tracking
  • Compares forecasts to budgets

Cons:

  • Will also track AWS costs, but for a fee

Details of each resource in the Cost Management dashboard show you the charge for the month up to the present moment and a forecast of the final month’s bill. You can enter a budget into the system and this will show in the analysis screens as a target.

3. VMWare CloudHealth

VMWare CloudHealth

CloudHealth by VMWare is a package of cost analysis and cloud security posture management tools. The system can tune your Azure usage to specific data protection standards, while also providing information on resource usage.

The Cloud Financial Management section of this cloud-based platform tracks costs in real-time and forecasts the end-of-the-month bill for each Azure service that you subscribe to. The system can allocate usage per department for internal cost allocation.

Key Features:

  • Cross-subscription visibility
  • Cost allocation by department
  • Aggregation and forecasting

A cost optimization service spots over-provision of resources that are provided on a reserved capacity basis rather than a flexible capacity service. The system’s calculating engine is aware of price points and bulk discounts that sometimes create better deals for larger plans where the price you would pay is just below the qualification for a discount.

You can place alert thresholds on each resource and identify an allocation per department or team to a total subscription capacity. Thus, if forecasts show that one department is going to exceed its budget for the month on one resource, it will receive a notification.

Azure service costs can also be identified per project or product. However, this feature involves a lot of manual setup to identify the exact percentage of each resource that is used by each product because the system doesn’t include a dependency mapping function to provide application-level cost allocation.

Pros:

  • Budget buster alerts
  • Compares budgets to forecasts
  • Customizable cost thresholds

Cons:

  • Won’t automatically identify application-specific usage

VMWare offers CloudHealth on a 14-day free trial.

4. Apptio Cloudability

Apptio Cloudability

Apptio Cloudability offers stunning data visualization screens that show the current month-to-date costs of each of your cloud platform service subscriptions. The tool can aggregate across multiple providers so that you can see your total monthly spend and it will also show the cost of each service.

Key Features:

  • Operates across services and platforms
  • Provides forecasts
  • Identifies overspend

Like some of the other products on this list, you can manually identify the percentage or absolute capacity requirements of a specific project or product. With this technique, you build up a list of users for each resource and specify how much each is expected to use. Thus, you can forecast the total cost per month for the cloud resources that contribute to each product and ensure that you are charging enough for it to at least cover costs.

Allocation tagging is a powerful tool for cost and profit forecasting. However, this all has to be done manually, so setting up the system so that you get accurate and meaningful data out of it involves a lot of time and effort.

Data is available in table format as well as interpreted into graphs. This enables you to output statistics to third-party tools for deeper analysis and account cost tracking. It is also possible to place usage alerts on each resource and allocate those using department, project, or product.

This service is great for IT operations departments that operate as a cost center so that they can pass through exact usage costs to those departments that consume those cloud resources. It would also be a very powerful billing tool for managed service providers that gain discounts on underlying services by consolidating cloud accounts across all clients.

Pros:

  • Allows cost allocation per department or client
  • Customizable cost thresholds
  • Invoice reconciliation to actual usage

Cons:

  • Identification of cost allocations to a project or product has to be set up manually

You can get a 14-day free trial of Apptio Cloudability.

5. myCloudDoor Cloud Cost Management

myCloudDoor Cloud Cost Management

myCloudDoor Cloud Cost Management is a service that is hosted on Azure and accessed through the Azure Marketplace. This system gathers usage statistics for multiple Azure services and presents the costs they incur as time passes. The system has attractive graphics to show the total cost and its components.

Key Features:

  • Hosted on Azure
  • Easy to access and subscribe to
  • Cost aggregation

This tool supports the allocation of costs per project but this requires manual cost allocation tagging for accurate application-based cost distribution to occur.

The service provides ongoing cost projections, estimating the month-end bill per service, based on usage trends. The package also allows you to enter budgets per department or per project so that you can compare forecasts to plans.

You can track the agreements you have for your subscriptions, matching performance with the SLAs in the terms and conditions of each Azure service.

If you also subscribe to Azure AD, the access rights and account credentials that you set up there will apply to access the Cloud Cost Management service.

Pros:

  • Forecasts Azure bills and compares to budget
  • Integrated with Azure AD
  • Usage to invoice comparison

Cons:

  • Doesn’t add much over the free Microsoft Cost Management service

Although this is an attractive tool, it doesn’t offer much more functionality than the user could get by accessing the free Microsoft Cost Management for Azure. However, the myCloudDoor package also includes a support team of cost accounting experts to whom subscribers can refer for advice.

6. nOps

nOps

nOps is a development automation tool that orchestrates a range of cloud packages used for development, including project management, continuous testing, SDKs, and bug trackers. Part of the system tracks the usage of cloud resources provided by AWS and Azure services.

Key Features:

  • Great for DevOps environments
  • Integrates into project management systems
  • Performance monitoring

The tool’s cloud-based dashboard includes a Costs page that provides up-to-the-minute cost data for the services that are in use by the development team. The service supports the use of spot instances that can save money by reducing the purchase of unused resources. It also tracks reserved resources so you can compare the relative cost benefits of each strategy.

The nOps platform also provides security management and compliance tracking. It will identify the expansion of cloud resource demand down to the user account involved and can generate warnings if expansion occurs too rapidly. The service integrates with Jira and you can set it up to generate notifications through that system or by email or Slack message.

Pros:

  • Performance, security, and cost tracking
  • Good for development projects
  • Helps reconcile month-end invoices

Cons:

  • The high degree of orchestration requires planning to fully exploit

You can get a better idea of how nOps works by getting a look at it in operation during a demo. Another option for investigation is to get a 30-day free trial of nOps.

7. Nebula OneView

Nebula OneView

Nebula OneView is a technology expense management system, which involves the tracking of more resources than those offered by Azure. Nebula is particularly strong on mobile device management and the tracking of events in BYOD environments and the OneView system builds on that.

There is a lot of mobile resource tracking and costing in this package alongside the monitoring of cloud service usage. This package, therefore, offers system managers a much wider view of technology costs.

Key Features:

  • Monitor mobile, cloud, and telecommunication costs
  • Performance tracking
  • Covers productivity suites

Businesses that have a lot of roaming staff will be managing mobile contacts and cloud-based productivity tools, such as Salesforce and Microsoft 365, so these other systems could be more of a cost than Azure or AWS services. If you operate a WAN and have service provider contacts to pay for leased lines, then OneView will track those resources as well.

The OneView system logs costs as they are incurred, forecasting usage for the month to predict the month-end bills for all resources. The system also allows you to enter budgets so that you can compare them to forecasts as the month progresses.

Pros:

  • Tracks the costs of all tech, not just cloud
  • Aggregates all twitch spend per project or department
  • Great for businesses with much external or roaming staff

Cons:

  • No free trial

Request a demo to assess Nebula OneView.

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Azure’s services range from processing power and storage space to access rights management and databases. The charging rates for these services mean you only pay for the capacity that you use. However, most services have a composite fee calculation structure that can be difficult to work out by yourself. You...