Purchasing Azure products and services

Let's start by examining the purchasing options you have with Azure. There are three main customer types on which the available purchasing options for Azure products and services are contingent, including:

  • Enterprise - Enterprise customers sign an Enterprise Agreement with Azure that commits them to spend a negotiated amount on Azure services, which they typically pay annually. Enterprise customers also have access to customized Azure pricing.
  • Web direct - Direct Web customers pay general public prices for Azure resources, and their monthly billing and payments occur through the Azure website.
  • Cloud Solution Provider - Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) typically are Microsoft partner companies that a customer hires to build solutions on top of Azure. Payment and billing for Azure usage occur through the customer's CSP.

Products and services in Azure are arranged by category, which has various resources that you can provision. You select the Azure products and services that fit your requirements, and your account is billed according to Azure's pay-for-what-you-use model.

Depiction of the various Azure products with the Featured products selection highlighted, displaying names and short descriptions of those products

Usage meters

When you provision an Azure resource, Azure creates one or more meter instances for that resource. The meters track the resources' usage, and generate a usage record that is used to calculate your bill.

For example, a single virtual machine that you provision in Azure might have the following meters tracking its usage:

  • Compute Hours
  • IP Address Hours
  • Data Transfer In
  • Data Transfer Out
  • Standard Managed Disk
  • Standard Managed Disk Operations
  • Standard IO-Disk
  • Standard IO-Block Blob Read
  • Standard IO-Block Blob Write
  • Standard IO-Block Blob Delete

The meters and pricing vary per product and often have different pricing tiers based on the size or capacity of the resource. Check the documentation for specific details on what each service area costs.

At the end of each monthly billing cycle, the usage values will be charged to your payment method and the meters are reset. You can check the billing page in the Azure portal at any time to get a quick summary of your current usage and see any invoices from past billing cycles.

The key takeaway is that resources are always charged based on usage. For example, if you de-allocate a VM then you will not be billed for compute hours, I/O reads or writes or the private IP address since the VM is not running and has no allocated compute resources. However you will incur storage costs for the disks.

Note

De-allocating a VM is not the same as deleting a VM. De-allocation means the VM is not assigned to a CPU or network in a datacenter. However, your persistent disks remain, and the resource is present in your subscription. It's similar to turning off your physical computer.