As one looks to on-board the Windows Azure Platform it is important to understand the billing and administration functionality and workflows. The first thing to look at is the end-2-end workflow.

To begin with examine the Offers page and specifically look out at details based on the country that you will be billed out of – for e.g. the United States offer sheet looks like the following

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where as for Ireland it looks like the following. Note that subscription offers are heavily discounted in the range of 52%-54% compared to the consumption based pricing.

Once you have reviewed the offers and decided to select a specific one by clicking the ‘Buy’ button, you will be redirected to the Microsoft Online Commerce Portal (once you have signed in using a Windows Live ID – this could be an existing ID or a new one associated with any existing email account) and complete a profile some profile data for MOCP site. You can then choose the services you want to purchase/subscribe and check out which takes you to the payment site. There are 2 modes of payment – credit card or purchase order. Purchase order option is currently limited to subscribers with payments of more than $500 a month (in US) or $250 a month (outside US).

Once the purchasing is complete – users are directed to service activation, where they can choose a service name for the subscription. Once the service is activated, the next step is to assign a service administrator. By default the account owner is the service administrator but a different live id can be assigned. This will help delineate the billing from development where account owner control billing and the development team controls the service administration, configuration, deployment and provisioning aspects. A mail confirmation is sent out to the account owner and service administrator once the service activation is complete and the dev portal can be accessed.

To consider some of the details around account ownership, Windows Live ID, service administrator, subscription, services and roles – examine the following diagram

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As you can interpret an account can have multiple subscriptions, each subscription has a 1:1 mapping with a project (within dev portal); Each project can create up to 6 services. Each service can have up-to 5 roles and 2 set of environments, production and staging. A project can spin up to 20 small compute instances or an equivalent combination of L,M,XL compute instances; Also each project can have 5 associated storage accounts (the blobs and containers within an account are unlimited). The # of instances for a project/service can be increased by working with the Windows Azure Business Desk. Start here.

There is 1 Administrator assignable per project and one overall account owner. Once service administrator is assigned the account owner doesn’t have access to the project in the dev portal. The service administrator cannot access billing information in MOCP. The service administrator can be changed at any time by logging into MOCP.

Consider you are running 2 services with Service #1 having 1 Web Role with 2 small instances and 1 Worker Role with 2 Large instances (equivalent to 8 small instances) – this implies you will have 10 small instances remaining for your Service #2.

Hope this write up provides some information around the current billing and administration model – to conclude, I am including a set of FAQ that one might find helpful.

- Once an app is deployed, resources get allocated to it irrespective of whether it is in Stopped/Suspended/Running state. Thus if you are not running an app – ideally delete the deployment

- Staging and production environments are identical in the Azure platform and thus cost the same

- Leverage TCO and ROI tools to understand Azure costs

- Commercial availability for Windows Azure:

In Jan 2010, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, India, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, and the United States.
In the April 2010 timeframe we expect availability to expand to Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Israel, Luxemburg, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Romania, and Trinidad and Tobago.

- Follow the billing info on the MOCP portal – the info is delayed by 12-24 hours