Making the most of an Azure Sponsorship Subscription

If you take a Microsoft Azure course you may be given a limited-time Azure Subscription to help your learning. This post shows how to check the usage of that allowance so you can make the most of it before having to revert to your personal paid-for account.

The Azure Sponsorships portal

Sign into and you will be able to view your current remaining balance, and also the date when the subscription will expire.

Detailed Accounts

Detailed usage is available as a download in either CSV or JSON format from the “Usage” tab of the page.

A report downloaded from here, like the CSV shown here, goes into great detail about what that fund has been spent on. Similar reports are also available for production tenancies, and it gives a deep insight into how the charges build up on per-second, per-hour billing.

Keeping the costs down

Cost-saving is a big part of any cloud operations- and even though these subscriptions are time limited, it’s still worth reducing the expenditure so you can get more lab time out of the allotted funds. Here’s some tips for keeping those costs down:

  • Turn off (and deallocate) any VMs you are not using. You will still pay for the storage line in the spreadsheet, but the compute cost will be zero if the Virtual machine is deallocated.
  • Delete any resources not in use. Especially if you have a script to rebuild them, possibly from the lab manuals. If the resources don’t exist, they don’t use up your budget.
  • Keep Virtual Machine sizes small. If you’re only testing distribution from a load balancer or application gateway, you don’t need a production-grade VM. Look at the smaller sizes, and remember B sizes are your friends: B1s costs less than 2 cents per hour and can run a basic web server.
  • Use free tiers. Resources often have a free tier- for example if you are looking at Web Apps and don’t require the advanced features for a particular piece of lab work, use the Free tier and you won’t get charged.
  • See if you can run your lab for less in a different region. The website offers a good comparison of VM pricing- at time of writing I can save 12% by running a B-series VM in East US rather than UK South.
  • Check the Azure Pricing Calculator in advance if you’re unsure how much something might cost.