It is absolutely not cool or fun to pay money to learn new technology. One of the main complaints people had for learning Azure (and AWS for that matter) is that they had to register with a credit card and actually put their own money on the line to try stuff out. One could argue that maybe a cost to learning isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, there were a number of horror stories of people inadvertently being charged hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars because they didn’t track their usage. If you register your Azure account through MSDN, that problem is completely eliminated. No credit card at all, and a free account that can never cost you money. But, there is a budget, a cost limit, that you have stay within to operate, so it’s worth it to you to know how to monitor your usage.
To start with, when you’re logged into the Management Portal, if you look in the upper right of the screen you’ll see something like this:
If you click on the Subscriptions link you’ll get a drop down menu that allows you to filter your subscriptions. You can see some of my subscriptions here (none of these are production):
Down there at the bottom of the picture is a “Useful Action” called “Managed your subscriptions.” Click on that and a new tab will open in your browser. This will show you your accounts. Here is one of mine:
Heck, it even lets you know, this subscription has a spending limit. You can turn that off if you want (although, what would be the point of setting up your account). But we’re not done drilling down. You can click on the account itself and see how much of the allocations that you have you have used up this month. Here’s one of my accounts that has some interesting activity:
Click on the image to see how the amounts of different Azure services add up to your account. At the top of the screen you can see the green bar that shows how much “money” you have left in the account. Note the little icons on the right, you can click on these to get details of when the billing was accrued:
That’s it. That’s all you have to track your usage. I’ve been working with Azure for a couple of years and I’ve never paid a penny. Most of that time was when I had to register with a credit card and could have been charged. But I’ve easily avoided it by monitoring my usage. Now I just monitor the usage to ensure I stay below my spending limits.
Here’s where you go to link your MSDN and Azure accounts. If you’re interested in getting started with Azure relational data storage (that’s Azure VMs Infrastructure as a Service and Windows Azure SQL Database as Platform as a Service), I’m running an all day pre-conference session at the PASS Summit 2013.