Azure offers a pay-as-you go pricing model. They also have the option to purchase a Reserved Instance which would commit you to a one- or three-year term for a virtual machine, in exchange for a discount of up to 72% compared to pay-as-you-go.
Azure also offers Spot Virtual Machines which are a purchasing option that can save significant amounts on infrastructure, for certain types of workloads. Azure Spot VMs are not created as a separate type of VM in Azure, instead, it’s a capability to bid for spare capacity at a discount from on demand pricing. Azure Spot VMs prices are not fixed like standard instances, they change over the day and vary based on the supply and demand in a particular region.
Microsoft allows you to use their unused compute capacity at a discounted rate. These discounts are variable and can go up to >90% of the pay-as-you-go rates, depending on the size of the VM and the unused capacity available. You can use Azure Spot VMs for workloads that are not critical or need to run 24×7.
Azure also offers an Enterprise Agreement where you are committing to a contract term and volume to gain additional discounts. The Enterprise Agreement offers built-in savings ranging from 15 percent to 45 percent based on committed spend. The Azure Enterprise commitment minimum is very low. You are required to make an upfront monetary commitment for each of the three years of the agreement, with a minimum order value of one “Monetary Commitment SKU” of $100 per month ($1,200/year).
EAs give you access to certain features that you’d otherwise be required to purchase separately. For example, an Azure EA gives you the option to purchase Azure Active Directory Premium, which will give you access to multi-factor authentication, 99.99% guaranteed uptime, and other features. Pay-As-You-Go only gives you access to the free version of Azure AD.
Additionally, Microsoft offers Azure Dev/Test pricing as an option that gives developers access to the tools that are necessary to support ongoing development and testing in Microsoft Azure services. There are three different pricing options - Individuals, Teams – Enterprise Agreement Customers, and Teams – All Other Customers. These pricing options come with the benefit of no additional Microsoft software charges on Azure Virtual Machines and exclusive dev/test rates on other Azure services.
There’s also another perk offered by Microsoft that helps you save money on your cloud bill - Azure credits. There are a wide variety of credits and resources offered that can help make Azure an affordable option for you. Here are a few of the ways you can earn credits: Visual Studio subscription, Azure for students, Azure free account, Microsoft Partner Network, Microsoft for startups, Azure for Education and Microsoft for Nonprofits.