Microsoft warns some Azure usage notifications – including abnormalities – are broken
There's a lot of manual work to do from now to March to make sure you don't break the cloud bank
Microsoft has warned its partner community that real-time tracking and notifications of customers' Azure spend is broken until mid-March, creating the possibility that spending overruns will go undetected.
"If you bought Azure Savings Plans for your customers, even though you set budgets for their customers, you temporarily can't get Azure spending notifications, states an announcement posted on the cloud provider's partner news.
If you see abnormal usage, you should address it immediately
Azure Savings Plans are billed as "an easy, flexible" plans that deliver “lower prices" if you sign up "to spend a fixed hourly amount on compute services for one or three years." Payment can be made in full up front, or monthly.
The price of Azure compute under a Savings Plan can be 65 percent lower than Azure's list prices.
But if customers exceed the hours they sign up to consume, additional usage is billed at pay-as-you-go prices and invoiced separately.
Information about customers who exceed their planned spend will still be recorded – but partners won't get regular notifications about what their customers are doing with Azure. So they won't automatically receive info about potential problems.
As Microsoft puts it: "Not getting those notifications could make it difficult for you to manage Azure resources for your customers because you won't be able to see how much is being spent in real time."
Microsoft has blamed "technical problems with our internal processing system" for the mess and advised "We expect notifications to be restored by the middle of March 2023."
Note that’s an exercise in expectation setting – not a promise of any sort.
Plenty of Microsoft users rely on their partners to let them know about stuff like looming usage overruns. The software leviathan's advice to partners is therefore to monitor their customers Azure usage manually.
"Check unbilled daily rated usage data regularly to ensure that you know how much your customers are spending on Azure resources," states the announcement, before helpfully adding "If you see abnormal usage, you should address it immediately."
Another helpful tip offered to partners is: "Proactively communicate with your customers about the temporary unavailability of spending notifications and suggest alternative methods for monitoring Azure usage and costs."
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Which is all very well, save for the fact that Microsoft partners probably don't have the resources to monitor their customers' Azure consumption without automated notifications. Who has time to go customer by customer checking usage on a daily or even weekly basis for hundreds of customers?
Nor will partners relish a discussion to explain this mess. It's not exactly the kind of value-added consultancy that Microsoft advises them to offer – and says it enables with robust and clever administration and automation tools.
The SNAFU comes at a time Microsoft knows its customers are sensitive about the cost of using cloud. In October 2022 it told investors it had started to consult with customers about their cloud use, and would happily wear slower billing growth if it could increase customer loyalty.
Now Microsoft's "technical problems" mean its partners – who more often than not are more visible to end-user organizations than the software giant itself – have to work harder, and longer, to help customers understand how much cloud they are consuming.
Good luck earning that loyalty, Microsoft. From customers and partners. ®