Take control of your cloud spend with Microsoft Cost Management

Take control of your cloud spend with Microsoft Cost Management

Nobody wants a surprise when it comes to their cloud bill. To effectively manage your cloud investments, you need to know what you’re spending and where it’s being spent. We developed Microsoft Cost Management to provide visibility into your resource usage to help you better understand where you’re accruing costs in the cloud, identify and prevent inefficient spending patterns, and offer you the ability to optimize costs across different usage groups. By leveraging data on your resource usage, you can enforce cost-control measures and create reporting dashboards for your stakeholders across the organization. 



Microsoft Cost Management comes free with your Azure subscription, so there’s no downside to using it. But a tool like this is only as good as the groundwork you put into it. What’s the trick to getting it to work for your organization so you can group and categorize spend by apps, environments, or even business cost centers? Let’s take a closer look at Microsoft’s free cost management tools and how you can use them to take command of your cloud spend, provide options for optimizing your usage, and help you understand the costs of everything running in your environment.


Improve transparency and visibility with data analysis and showback 

Data analysis and showback are essential cloud financial operations capabilities. Data analysis refers to the practice of analyzing and interpreting data related to cloud usage and costs. Showback refers to enabling cost visibility throughout an organization. Data analysis and showback enable stakeholders to understand how resources are used, track cost trends, and make informed decisions regarding resource allocation, optimization, and budget planning. In other words, data analysis and showback provide transparency and visibility into cloud usage and costs across different departments, teams, and projects. 


Some examples of when you want to prioritize data analysis and showback include:

  • New datasets become available, which need to be prepared for stakeholders.
  • New requirements are raised to add or update reports.
  • Implementing more cost visibility measures to drive awareness.


Data analysis and showback require a deep understanding of organizational needs to provide each stakeholder with an appropriate level of detail. If you’re new to FinOps, we recommend starting with data analysis and showback using native cloud tools as you learn more about the data and the specific needs of your stakeholders. You can revisit this capability again as you adopt new tools and datasets, which could be ingested into a custom data store or used by a third-party solution from the Marketplace.


You can learn more about using FinOps best practices for data analysis and showback of your resource allocations at aka.ms/finops/solutions.  


Break down and group costs with Tags

Tags are another quick win for cost avoidance. A thorough tagging strategy helps provide complete visibility into consumption and spending patterns. To track your consumption and spending patterns using tags, you’ll want to set a policy to ensure that resources are tagged at the time of deployment. This is key if you want to reassign costs to different groups or departments. Multiple pre-built policies can help you tag your subscriptions and resource groups down to specific resources. 

You can define a tagging strategy that allows you to break down and group costs by different business units, engineering environments, and cost departments. This tag inheritance feature will enable you to set tags at the resource group and subscription levels and automatically apply tags to all child resource usage records. Microsoft Cost Management will collect signals from tagged resources to track costs. That information is then rolled up to a more custom aggregate view in Microsoft Cost Management. Simply specify the set of data you want to look at and choose different usage attributes across dimensions to provide filtered views of your cost assessment. For example, if you select ‘location,’ you can see charges broken down by where workloads are running in proportion to your overall total, as well as a cost forecast through the end of the month based on current consumption patterns. 


Multiple policies can help you tag resources to monitor spend. You can learn more at aka.ms/costmgmt/videos


Get quick analytics and insights with Cost Analysis  

The Cost Analysis tool helps you explore and get quick analytics and insights into your costs. It provides customizable views that summarize your costs over time and break them down for deeper analysis to create budgets and alerts. You can also look at charges by subscription. And you can get granular cost visibility down to the resource group level and even down to the resource type. For example, if you want to see how much your VMs cost, simply filter by VM. If you’ve already assigned specific budgets, you can track your progress against budget by cost center. You can also view amortized costs against your Azure reservation or savings plan to showback the costs of the benefit in specific time periods to workload users or departments. 


Use the new exports experience to analyze additional cost-impacting datasets

FinOps datasets can be large and challenging to manage. The new “exports” experience in Cost Management is designed to streamline your FinOps practice. It allows you to export additional cost-impacting datasets, including price sheets, reservation recommendations, reservation details and reservation transactions. You can easily handle large datasets through features like file partitioning that breaks files into manageable chunks and file overwrite for daily exports, which replaces the previous day’s file with an updated file each day. There will soon be options for Parquet format and file compression as well. These optimizations improve file manageability, reduce download latency, and help you save on storage and network charges.


Furthermore, you can download cost and usage details using the open-source FinOps Open Cost and Usage Specification (FOCUS) format. FOCUS is an initiative to establish a typical provider- and service-agnostic format for billing data that empowers organizations to better understand cost and usage patterns and optimize spending and performance across multiple clouds, software as a service, and even on-premises service offerings. FOCUS combines actual and amortized costs, reducing data processing times and storage and compute costs. Microsoft Cost Management is introducing support for cost and usage data exports aligned to the FOCUS schema as part of a limited preview leading up to the next major FOCUS release.

Meanwhile, Microsoft Fabric allows you to do a deep analysis of big data by pointing to existing data lakes and, in some places, eliminating the need to move the data. In addition, native Fabric AI capabilities allow for quick data analysis. We are now offering a limited preview of Data Exports in Microsoft Cost Management to integrate with Fabric, taking advantage of the full Fabric AI analysis capabilities.


You can also use Microsoft’s AI-powered Copilot, now in preview in Cost Management, to detect spending patterns and anomalies across multiple teams. Finally, the Cost Details API is your go-to solution if you are an enterprise customer and need to ingest small cost details datasets on demand.


Reduce spend through dynamic recommendations

The ability to use resources on demand in the cloud is liberating. But simultaneously, you don’t want to be surprised by unpredictable costs that can break your budget. This can get complex fast if you are trying to manage the costs of running cloud resources across your organization. The ability to identify optimizations that can help you save money through dynamic recommendations available through Microsoft Cost Management means you can get a better handle on your cloud spend, be more confident about your spending, and take greater advantage of the cloud.


Whether you are managing your cloud expenditure all-up, want to ensure that your specific workload or project stays within budget, or want to identify Learn more about using FinOps best practices for data analysis and showback of your resource allocations at aka.ms/finops/solutions.

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