Azure: How to Check your Bill

Introduction

I have been playing with the Azure toolset lately in preparation for taking beta exam 71-583, which is the MCPD (Pro) exam on Windows Azure technologies. I had worked with these technologies on and off over the past 2 years during the early releases. One thing I have heard from many people is that they will see a bill come in somewhat unexpectedly. During the early pre-production releases everything was free so I did not worry about the charges. I signed up with the cover of my MVP MSDN subscription but I did need to enter my credit card information in case of overages. It is like a hotel – you still have to give your credit card for the mini-bar, long-distance room calls and the movies on the tv.

One thing that seems to be relatively poorly documented is how to check your bill or tab. I gave this feedback on a recent MPRP study but apparently it has not gotten through about how many in the community seem to be stunned by the charges. So I thought it would be good to do a quick post on how to check your bill in the current Azure product. While some of the screenshots seem relatively self-explanatory, you do need to choose 5 links to drill down deep enough into the account details to actually get the meaningful charges information. This really should be easier.

Walkthrough

  1. First, go to one of the Azure configuration portals, either at http://sql.azure.com, http://windows.azure.com, or http://appfabric.azure.com. If you have used the service, you should see a screen similar to the one for me below:
  2. Click on the “Billing” link in the upper right hand portion of the screen under your Windows Live Id.
  3. The next page displayed will be https://mocp.microsoftonline.com/site/default.aspx, which you could alternately go to directly. You will then need to authenticate again. After authenticating with your Windows Live ID the site will be shown similar to the picture below:
  4. So the next thing to do is to click on “View My Bills”. Again, this seems obvious but this is the only entry point I have found into this important report. A pop up window will open. The popup will load a list of your bills as shown for me below:
  5. Next you click on View Online Bill/Invoice. This will bring back an itemized list of your current charges. You can see my bill below. I have been using some of the Azure services but it is covered up to a point by my MSDN benefits:
  6. Finally you have to click on the links like AppFabrc Usage Charges, Data Transfer Usage Charges, or SQL Azure Usage Charges to get the real statistical information about how much you owe. For MSDN subscribers, this is where you check how many minutes you have left in your plan :). Below I show my charges for the data transfer:
  7. I tried taking the URL for this report and copying it out to a different browser session but was unsuccessful. I wish it were easier to see the expected charges or maybe get a text if I were about to be charged actual money. I wonder if there is a cloudapp for that.

Good luck managing your cloud accounts! Thanks,

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  1. #1 by Ben Cline on November 17, 2010 - 9:58 am

    Here is a great tool to help with monitoring the charges: http://greybox.codeplex.com/. It is very coarse grained though.

    Thanks,

  2. #2 by Mark on December 20, 2010 - 7:15 am

    My biggest concern is that I will be using these to learn and practice, so I wish they had a “cap” so things wouldnt respond if you hit a specified number for each. Therefore, people like myself won’t be stuck with a bill that will sour the learning experience.

    Furthermore, I was asked by a client about Denial of Service Attacks. Have you found any information on this? The question was “since most DOS attacks are run by script kiddies, this is not a hard to accomplish task.” I must agree, and at the processing rate, a DOS attack could spin up many instances and many transcations costing a company or user (like us) a heck of a lot of money.

    I haven’t heard any “official answer” to this yet from the 3 or 4 Azure presenters I have asked about this.

    How much testing have you been able to do with the default MSDN account?

  3. #3 by Mark on December 20, 2010 - 7:19 am

    According to some blogs this has already been covered:

    http://blogs.credera.com/tag/windows-azure/

    Specialized hardware such as load balancers, firewalls, and intrusion prevention devices ensure the integrity and security of the cloud network. The infrastructure actively prevents denial of service attacks and uses gateway functions on dedicated hardware to perform packet inspection and take actions such as blocking suspicious activity. A globally redundant internal and external DNS infrastructure provides for fault tolerance while additional security controls prevent distributed denial of service attacks and protect the integrity of DNS services. Continuous monitoring for unauthorized software and DNS zone configuration changes as well as other disruptive service events ensures a secure, reliable DNS environment.

    That is good to know.

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