In the first part of this series, we discussed the basics of the Azure cloud offering. As mentioned in part one, according to Synergy Research Group, Azure is the cloud with the highest growth rate among the leading cloud vendors – Amazon Google and Microsoft. It is no doubt that the latter has the most significant experience delivering and supporting enterprise IT.
Microsoft Azure provides a single agreement for enterprises that allows corporate IT and finance to retain control over cloud investments and operations through a single entity. In this article I will describe the basics of Microsoft’s Enterprise Agreement (EA) for Azure customers.
Support of the Enterprise Cloud Hierarchy
According to Microsoft’s EA, enterprise enrollment programs enhance manageability by equipping your entire organization with the latest versions of Microsoft products. This principle also applies when it comes to the Azure cloud enrollment offering, which makes it possible to build a large umbrella of resources. As shown below, you can configure various levels of departments, accounts and subscriptions under Azure’s Enterprise Enrollment program.
Once a hierarchy is created, the program issues an enrollment number that uniquely identifies your organization. In other clouds, this hierarchy can be implemented via tagging, but with Azure, while some tagging capabilities are available, you cannot link them to your billing statement and you can’t tag individual resources. Instead, you can find your organization’s resource hierarchy umbrella in Azure’s billing file. You can then check your enrollment program’s prices through your account price listed in your Azure Enterprise Portal.
The Enterprise Commitment
Consuming Azure resources through an EA can significantly lower your standard on-demand rates on an annual basis. For example, Azure websites can cost at least 25% less with an EA than with the Pay-As-You-Go model.
According to the Licensing Azure for the Enterprise page:
“These discounts are provided on top of per meter prices that for commodity services like compute, storage and bandwidth we have already committed won’t be beaten by Amazon.”
Azure Enterprise Enrollment enables you to commit upfront to expected Azure service consumption. If you exceed your expected consumption, the same discounted rates apply, and depending on the rate of excess consumption, you either pay at the end of the year (under 50% excess consumption) or at the end of each quarter (over 50%). You can change your commitment level but if you don’t consume all of your credits in a year, the remainder will be lost.
There is no minimum EA, it simply depends on your level of commitment. You can can start with a commitment of a few thousand dollars a year and receive discounts and access to EA options. EAs include certain features by default, such as the option to purchase Azure Active Directory Premium as well as 99.99% guaranteed uptime and more.
Azure Enterprise Portal
Once you’ve entered an EA you are granted master admin level access to your Azure enterprise portal, as shown below. In the ‘Home’ screen, you can view your organization’s departments, accounts and subscriptions.
In addition, the enterprise console provides you with multiple usage and cost reports so you can monitor and track them on the enrollment level (aggregated across your organization).
The reports that are displayed depend on whether or not your partner adds markup to baseline prices. If a markup is added, your enterprise account also includes the original price sheet. Basically, direct Azure enterprise customers (who signed the EA directly with Microsoft) view the same information as indirect customers (who signed the EA with one of Microsoft’s resellers), which allows end users to have a complete view of their cloud usage expenses.
Note: The portal also enables you to download the aggregated usage data.
Microsoft is a veteran enterprise vendor and as such, has built an offering that best suits the structure of the IT industry today—from a simple single cloud “subscription” to large complex enterprise organizations, resellers and partners. Aggregating cloud expenses under a specific entity facilitates enterprises to show and chargeback.