Automation scenarios for billing and cost management

This article lists common scenarios for Azure billing and cost management. It maps these scenarios to APIs that you can use. Under each scenario-to-API mapping, you can find a summary of the APIs and the functionality that they offer.

Common scenarios

You can use the billing and cost management APIs in several scenarios to answer cost-related and usage-related questions. Here's an outline of common scenarios:

  • Invoice reconciliation: Did Microsoft charge me the right amount? What's my bill, and can I calculate it myself?

  • Cross-charges: Now that I know how much I'm being charged, who in my organization needs to pay?

  • Cost optimization: I know how much I've been charged. How can I get more out of the money I'm spending on Azure?

  • Cost tracking: I want to see how much I'm spending and using Azure over time. What are the trends? How can I do better?

  • Azure spending during the month: How much is my current month’s spending to date? Do I need to make any changes in my spending and/or usage of Azure? When during the month am I consuming Azure the most?

  • Alerts: How can I set up resource-based consumption or monetary-based alerts?

Scenario-to-API mapping

API Invoice reconciliation Cross-charges Cost optimization Cost tracking Midmonth spending Alerts
Budgets X X
Marketplace Charges X X X X X X
Price Sheet X X X X X
Reservation Recommendations X
Reservation Details X X
Reservation Summaries X X
Usage Details X X X X X X
Billing Periods X X X X
Invoices X X X X
RateCard X X X X
Unrated Usage X X X

Note

The scenario-to-API mapping doesn't include the Enterprise Consumption APIs. Where possible, use the general Consumption APIs for new development scenarios.

API summaries

Consumption

Web Direct and Enterprise customers can use all the following APIs, except where noted:

  • Budgets API (Enterprise customers only): Create either cost or usage budgets for resources, resource groups, or billing meters. When you've created budgets, you can configure alerts to notify you when you've exceeded defined budget thresholds. You can also configure actions to occur when you've reached budget amounts.

  • Marketplace Charges API: Get charge and usage data on all Azure Marketplace resources (Azure partner offerings). You can use this data to add up costs across all Marketplace resources or to investigate costs/usage on specific resources.

  • Price Sheet API (Enterprise customers only): Get custom pricing for all meters. Enterprises can use this data in combination with usage details and marketplace usage information to calculate costs by using usage and marketplace data.

  • Reservation Recommendations API: Get recommendations for purchasing Reserved VM Instances. Recommendations help you analyze expected cost savings and purchase amounts. For more information, see APIs for Azure reservation automation.

  • Reservation Details API: See information on previously purchased VM reservations, such as how much consumption is reserved versus how much is used. You can see data at per-VM-level detail. For more information, see APIs for Azure reservation automation.

  • Reservation Summaries API: See aggregated information on VM reservations that your organization bought, like how much consumption is reserved versus how much is used in the aggregate. For more information, see APIs for Azure reservation automation.

  • Usage Details API: Get charge and usage information on all Azure resources from Microsoft. Information is in the form of usage detail records, which are currently emitted once per meter per day. You can use the information to add up the costs across all resources or investigate costs/usage on specific resources.

  • RateCard API: Get meter rates if you're a Web Direct customer. You can then use the returned information with your resource usage information to manually calculate the expected bill.

  • Unrated Usage API: Get raw usage information before Azure does any metering/charging.

Billing

  • Billing Periods API: Determine a billing period to analyze, along with the invoice IDs for that period. You can use invoice IDs with the Invoices API.

  • Invoices API: Get the download URL for an invoice for a billing period in PDF form.

Enterprise consumption

The following APIs are for Enterprise only:

  • Balance Summary API: Get a monthly summary of information on balances, new purchases, Azure Marketplace service charges, adjustments, and overage charges. You can get this information for the current billing period or any period in the past. Enterprises can use this data to compare with manually calculated summary charges. This API does not provide resource-specific information or an aggregate view of costs.

  • Usage Details API: Get information about Azure usage (of Microsoft offerings) for the current month, a specific billing period, or a custom date period. Enterprises can use this data to manually calculate bills based on rate and consumption. Enterprises can also use department/organization information to attribute costs across organizations. The data provides a resource-specific view of usage/cost.

  • Marketplace Store Charge API: Get information about Azure usage (of partner offerings) for the current month, a specific billing period, or a custom date period. Enterprises can use this data to manually calculate bills based on rate and consumption. Enterprises can also use department/organization information to attribute costs across organizations. This API provides a resource-specific view of usage/cost.

  • Price Sheet API: Get the applicable rate for each meter for the given enrollment and billing period. You can use this rate information in combination with usage details and marketplace usage information to manually calculate the expected bill.

  • Billing Periods API: Get a list of billing periods. The API also gives you a property that points to the API route for the four sets of Enterprise API data that pertain to the billing period: BalanceSummary, UsageDetails, Marketplace Charges, and PriceSheet.

  • Reserved Instance Recommendations API: Look at 7 days, 30 days, or 60 days of virtual machine usage and get Single and Shared Purchase recommendations. You can use this API to analyze expected cost savings and recommended purchase amounts. For more information, see APIs for Azure reservation automation.

Frequently asked questions

What's the difference between the Enterprise Reporting APIs and the Consumption APIs? When should I use each?

These APIs have a similar set of functionality and can answer the same broad set of questions in the billing and cost management space. But they target different audiences:

What's the difference between the Usage Details API and the Usage API?

These APIs provide fundamentally different data:

  • The Usage Details API provides Azure usage and cost information per meter instance. The provided data has already passed through the cost metering system in Azure and had cost applied to it, along with other possible changes:

    • Changes to account for the use of prepaid monetary commitments
    • Changes to account for usage discrepancies discovered by Azure
  • The Usage API provides raw Azure usage information before it passes through the cost metering system in Azure. This data might not have any correlation with the usage or charge amount that's seen after the Azure charge metering system.

What's the difference between the Invoice API and the Usage Details API?

These APIs provide a different view of the same data:

  • The Invoice API is for Web Direct customers only. It provides a monthly rollup of your bill based on the aggregate charges for each meter type.

  • The Usage Details API provides a granular view of the usage/cost records for each day. Both Enterprise and Web Direct customers can use it.

What's the difference between the Price Sheet API and the RateCard API?

These APIs provide similar sets of data but have different audiences:

  • The Price Sheet API provides the custom pricing that was negotiated for an Enterprise customer.

  • The RateCard API provides the public-facing pricing that applies to Web Direct customers.

Next steps