Microsoft Azure … Beware the Sticker Shock!

This week’s post is a cautionary tale. It is also a reminder that almost nothing in life is “for free”.

With Azure you must realize that you pay for everything that is deployed whether it is being used or not. You pay for storage. You pay for computing. You pay for data transfers in and out. You pay for Service Bus transactions. You pay for Access Control requests. You pay for everything!

I was pretty actively using Azure in July. I was deploying applications left and right. I was increasing the number of worker and web roles to test scaling. I was migrating SQL Server databases. I was using Service Bus and Access Control services without a care in the world! I was happy. This was cool. Everything was working and it was all good!

Well, I just got my statement for the month. Let us just say … ahem … it was a bit more than I would have liked. I could have almost rented a small apartment (okay maybe not in New York or LA … but maybe in Tucson) for a month! Yes, I should have done all the cost analysis first. Yes, I should have considered the financial implications before I did anything. I didn’t. I got caught up in a kind of a geeky nirvana and just kind of lost track of the dollars and cents. That is the last time I will make that mistake!

For me the big killer was the compute service charges. You are charged $0.12 per hour per small VM instance regardless of whether it is doing anything or not. That doesn’t sound like much, right? However there are 720 hours in a 30 day month. That means a single VM instance, whether a web role or a worker role, costs about $86 per month if you choose the consumption payment model. If you have both a web role and a worker role in your application, which would not be uncommon, you are up to $172 per month. On top of that, Microsoft requires at least two instances of each “Internet facing” (i.e. web) role in order to ensure the 99.95% availability guaranteed in their Service Level Agreement. Throw in a SQL Azure database and are up to about $270 a month for a single application! Imagine if you have several!

Now, I am not saying that this is too much or too little. It all depends on your particular application. Indeed it probably was less expensive, and certainly a heck of a lot easier, than setting up the whole platform and infrastructure myself. What I am saying is be aware of how quickly things can add up.

Do your homework. Only deploy what you need. Only keep it deployed for as long as you need it. When you are done get rid of it.

Here is how you delete a service on Microsoft Azure:

  1. Suspend the deployment

  2. Delete the suspended deployment

  3. Delete the service

Azure is pretty cool and there is a lot you can do with it. Just remember that the meter is always running!


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