Using Azure billing to view Skytap on Azure costs and usage

Overview

Skytap on Azure is available as a third-party SaaS in the Azure Marketplace. Billing for this offering is reported in the Azure Billing portal, but it might not be obvious to you at first how to find your Skytap on Azure billing in the Azure portal. This article explains how Azure represents Skytap on Azure within the Azure portal and demonstrates several ways to view your Skytap on Azure billing.

Understanding how Skytap on Azure appears in Azure

The Azure Marketplace has integrated the SaaS subscriptions you purchase into the Azure portal as Azure Resources under the common Service named SaaS. As a result, if you try to view your account by Service, Skytap on Azure may be mixed in with your other marketplace purchased services. Additionally, Skytap on Azure aligns Skytap Regions with Azure Resources, so it is possible to have a single Skytap account that is associated with multiple Azure Resources.

Skytap To Azure Map

The result of this mapping is that there is no equivalent within Azure to a Skytap on Azure Customer Account. If you would like to report within Azure at the Skytap on Azure account level, you will need to represent this manually. The two most common ways to apply this would be to create a separate Azure Resource Group per Skytap on Azure account or to define a Tag or Tags to track this information. Creation of Skytap on Azure accounts is beyond the scope of this article, but you can read more about this here.

Your Skytap on Azure billing will be the total of the consumption across all the different Skytap usage components. These components are not specific objects in the Azure object model, but are represented as meters in the Azure billing system. Meters will be explained in more detail in the next section.

Cost Analysis

The first place you will likely use to view your Skytap on Azure billing is the Azure Cost Analysis blade. This article focuses exclusively on using Cost Analysis to view your Skytap on Azure billing information. If you’re looking for a more generic tutorial you can find that in Microsoft documentation here. Cost Analysis reports are presented for a specific scope. In this article, I will be using the Subscription scope, and occasionally the Resource Group scope. Which one is best will depend upon how you have organized your Skytap on Azure resources.

The Basics

The most straightforward thing you can do in Cost Analysis is use one of the built in reports provided by Azure. Of these, the Cost by service is likely the most useful if you have multiple different Azure services within your subscription. You will be able to see the total cost for all Services in your Azure subscription. Remember that your Skytap on Azure service will be listed as “SaaS” in this view, and will be grouped together with any other Marketplace SaaS offers you have subscribed to. The other default views will be of less value unless certain other filters or groupings have been applied.

One example of this is to use the built in Accumulated costs view, and Group by Service Name, which will give you a view of cost accumulation over time comparing each of the services in your Azure subscription.

Accumulated Cost By Service

More Advanced

If you are interested in getting a more detailed understanding of your Skytap on Azure billing, you can use the filters, grouping and granularity setting in Cost Analysis to report to the level of granularity of a specific resource, in a single Skytap account region. The exact filter and grouping to do this will vary based on how you have decided to organize your Skytap resources within Azure. This article is not designed to be a best practices guide for organizing your Azure subscription, but I will provide some general examples of how you might organize things, and then a specific example using Cost Analysis to view detailed billing information for Skytap on Azure.

Organization Strategies

Have a dedicated Azure subscription of Skytap: If your organization allows for it, putting all your Skytap on Azure resources into a dedicated subscription enables you to report on costs simply by setting the Scope to your subscription and any resulting cost reported will be related to Skytap on Azure.

Using Resource Groups within a subscription: More commonly, you will have multiple different types of resources in your subscription. In this case, using a Resource Group or Groups, is a common way to organize resources. For example, you could put all your Skytap on Azure resources into one or more dedicated groups:

  • Groups for Production and Development Skytap on Azure instances
  • Groups for different cost centers within your company
  • Groups for different applications or purposes

Using Tags on your Resources: If you cannot achieve your organizational goals using Subscriptions or Groups, then you may want to explore adding tags to your Skytap on Azure Resources. Tags allow you to confer any structure you want onto Azure Resources, with the downside of having to do this manually. Once applied, you can filter and/or group by Tags within the Cost Analysis report.

An example report

Let’s say you’d like to see your Skytap on Azure spending compared by month for a quarter and you organize your resources using Resource Groups. You could do this as follows:

  1. Start with the Cost by Resource view
  2. Set the timeframe to the desired quarter
  3. Set a filter for Service name = SaaS
  4. Set the Group by to Resource groups
  5. Set the Granularity to Monthly
  6. Set the chart type to Column (stacked)

Getting to the details

As I wrote earlier, the most granular level of detail that is available for Skytap on Azure in Cost Analysis is the consumption meter. The Skytap on Azure plans are associated with a specific Skytap region, which means that meters provide you with a granularity of a specific resource, such as Power Computer or Storage, at a regional level. Within Cost Analysis, the meter name is formatted as <Offer name> – <Regional plan> – <Skytap resource>, so you would see something similar to Skytap on Azure – us-texas-m-1 (south central), pay as you go – storage, which tells you the cost of Storage in the Skytap region named “Texas-M-1”, which is located in the Azure South Central geographic region.

Using this information, you could create a very granular report, for example, if you wanted to see trending storage costs for a specific Skytap on Azure account/region:

  1. Start with the Cost by Resource view
  2. Set the timeframe to ‘This year’
  3. Set the following filters:
    • Service name = saas
    • Resource = <name of the Skytap account you’re interested>
    • Meter = <name of specific meters in that account>
  4. Set the Group by to be Meter
  5. Set the Granularity to be Monthly
  6. Set the chart type to be what you like, but Column (Stacked) probably makes the most sense

Note, you may need to select more than one meter name depending on whether your plan has changed during your reporting period, as happens periodically. The example below shows that this instance of Skytap on Azure had its pricing plan changed in August, which results in the meter changing. This can happen even if there has not been a price change as there are a number of reasons Skytap may have to update plans, including adding new features, and thus new meters.

If you would like to see line item details for your Skytap on Azure charges, you can obtain that from either the Invoices blade which will be explained in the next section, or from a detail Cost Analysis report. Which one to use mostly depends on the amount of detail you want to see.

In Cost Analysis, you can start with the Invoice details report and then set up the filter, Group by and Granularity to match you desired scope. You can also change the timeframe to something more or less than a single billing period, which you cannot do with reporting from the Invoices blade.

You can export this detail report, as well as the data behind all other Cost Analysis reports to a number of different files formats, including CSV and Excel.

Topics beyond our scope

One of the advantages of having Marketplace subscriptions incorporated into Azure billing is that you can use other cost control capabilities of Azure Billing in association with your Skytap on Azure subscriptions. While beyond the scope of this article, you may find it interesting to explore Azure documentation related to both Budgets and Cost Alerts.

Invoices

You may not have access to the Invoices associated with your Azure subscription based on your User Role in the subscription. If you do, or if you can work with the owner of your Subscription to collect invoice details for you, there is a wealth of information available in the detailed invoice reports. Most of this detail is not in the invoice itself, but is available from the Invoice section of the Azure portal. Invoices cannot be filtered, grouped or set to different granularity like Cost Analysis. That must all be done after a detailed report is downloaded.

  • Prepare Azure usage file – This will create a line item report of daily usage charges, per meter, for the displayed invoice. The detail in this report is far greater than Cost Analysis and includes fields such as usage quantity and units, effective unit price, total cost in both your billing currency and USD, and the exchange rate that Microsoft used to convert total cost.
  • Download invoice price sheet – This will create a report giving the unit pricing of all items included in the invoice, including the meter pricing for Skytap on Azure consumption meters.

Summary

This article gave you the basics you need to use Azure’s cost management tools to view your Skytap on Azure cost information. It covered:

  • A description of how Skytap on Azure is represented within Azure’s object architecture
  • An overview of using Azure Cost Analysis to generate spending reports
  • Information on detailed reports that can be generated from the Azure Invoices blade

We hope you have found this information useful in understanding your costs and usage information in Skytap.

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