Azure Cost Management and ShareGate Overcast: What’s the difference?

Azure Cost Management and ShareGate Overcast: What’s the difference? Azure Cost Management and ShareGate Overcast: What’s the difference?

Controlling cloud costs is crucial, but what tool should you use? We explain some of the key differences and similarities between Microsoft’s Azure Cost Management and ShareGate Overcast.

We all know how important it is to manage our cloud costs. But, typically, we’re not very good at doing it. According to Flexera’s 2020 State of the Cloud Report, respondents self-estimate that their organizations waste 30% of their cloud spend.

Even scarier than that, Flexera found that organizations typically underestimate their cloud waste; based on their work with customers, actual waste often represents 35% or more of an organization’s cloud spend.

One of the reasons for all of this waste is that it can be difficult to understand and optimize cloud costs on your own. So, many organizations are turning to cloud cost solutions. For users of Azure, Microsoft has Azure Cost Management (ACM). At ShareGate, we also offer an Azure cost control tool: ShareGate Overcast.

One of the questions we commonly hear from people interested in trying out ShareGate Overcast is, “How is it different from ACM?”

Both tools give you information about your Azure spending, but the main difference is the type of Azure cost data they provide. Let’s explore what that means!

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What does Azure Cost Management do?

Microsoft’s free tool, Azure Cost Management, allows you to see all of your Azure spending data. Every cent that you spend on every resource in every subscription is detailed in this platform, which you can access through the Azure portal.

With ACM, you can query your Azure cost data, set budgets for your business, and get cost savings recommendations.

Cost analysis page of Azure Cost Management

Azure Cost Management’s cost analysis page provides charts and data regarding your Azure spending.

Azure has powerful querying capabilities, so if you’re looking for data on a particular resource or management group, you should be able to find it by setting filters and scopes. Microsoft has really set up this tool to allow customers to slice and dice their data views as much as they want.

You can group and divide data in so many different ways with ACM. And then you can view that information in different types of graphs or export it to .xsl, .csv, or .png. This can help you keep track of what you’ve already spent.

You can also set budgets on certain scopes to help you stick to your Azure cost goals. You can set budgets for different time periods and get alerted when you reach a particular threshold of your allotted budget.

Finally, ACM also has cost savings recommendations to help you rightsize your Azure resources. If your resources are idle, empty, oversized, or eligible for special pricing, Azure Advisor will let you know through ACM.

What does ShareGate Overcast do?

ShareGate Overcast is an Azure cost analysis solution with both Free and Premium plans. ShareGate Overcast analyzes your Azure costs and usage data, automatically identifies cost issues, and gives you the insights and context you need to fix problems and make cost-efficient engineering decisions.

With ShareGate Overcast, you can explore your costs, and the tool will point out which resources, subscriptions, or admins are your top cost drivers or have experienced the biggest variations in cost over the past month.

The goal is to help you get visibility into how your day-to-day engineering and infrastructure decisions are impacting your cloud bill and to get the context you need to fix cost issues quickly. All of this should help you build better, more efficient products and services.

ShareGate Overcast provides Azure cost insings

ShareGate Overcast’s Overview gives you a glimpse of your Azure spending, top resource administrators, potential savings, and cost variations.

It also allows you to set budgets and intelligently forecast upcoming spending. You can set these budgets according to product, environment, department, or any other logical grouping for your business. Then you can set alerts that will notify you if you spend above a certain threshold for your budget as well as for when our machine learning predicts you’ll surpass your budget. That way, you can make adjustments to your spending before you bust your budget.

ShareGate Overcast also has anomaly detection, which automatically scans for spikes in your Azure spending and alerts you if it finds any. This AI-powered feature provides you with the affected resource’s name, type, resource group, subscription, admin, and the last action performed on it before the anomaly. It will also give you the cost and variation details of the anomaly compared to the previous days and the last 30 days.

ShareGate Overcast detects anomalies in Azure costs

ShareGate Overcast’s anomaly detection gives you all the information you need to fix issues fast.

Having all of this information can help you dive into an investigation of what went wrong and how to fix it, so that your business doesn’t continue to rack up unnecessary costs.

Finally, ShareGate Overcast also has Azure cost optimization recommendations. Like ACM, it scans your Azure usage to identify opportunities for you to rightsize resources to ensure you’re only paying for what you need.

With ShareGate Overcast’s cost savings recommendations, you’ll be shown who’s responsible for the resources it recommends rightsizing, so you can quickly follow up with them to make changes. It also breaks down recommendations by your preferred view—by service, app, feature, environment, department, etc.—which can help if you’re looking to optimize a particular business area.

How are Azure Cost Management and ShareGate Overcast different?

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You might have noticed some overlap in our descriptions of what ACM and ShareGate Overcast do, so what, exactly, is the difference between them?

The big one: Insights.

ACM has tons of data and a powerful querying tool to help you find what you’re looking for within that data. But if you don’t already know what you’re looking for, you’ll probably have to put in some work to figure out what went wrong.

Say your Azure bill was significantly higher than expected last month, but there was no corresponding push in your business—like the roll out of a new software or a big surge in development—that corresponds with your higher-than-usual invoice. If you go into ACM, you may have to sift through layers of data or export your data to create Power BI dashboards or pivot tables and manually analyze them to try and figure out what happened.

ShareGate Overcast has your Azure spending data, but it also analyzes it to provide you with insights. In the app’s Overivew page, it shows you the biggest cost variations in your environment. There’s also another page, Explore, dedicated to showing you all the changes in your spending over the past 30 days.

On this page, you can drill down into each subscription to individual meters, so that you can get the context you need to understand what’s changed in your Azure spending and why.

ShareGate Overcast shows you your business's biggest Azure cost variations month over month

See your biggest cost variations month over month in ShareGate Overcast.

So, if you notice that your Azure bill is higher than expected, ShareGate Overcast will help you identify what the possible causes are and give you the information you need to understand what changed and by how much.

Not to mention that big surprises in your Azure bill are less likely when you have ShareGate Overcast, since you’ll be notified if we identify anomalies in your spending, instead of allowing those anomalies to continue unchecked until you receive your next bill and start an investigation into it.

Plus, we’ll let you know if you’re forecasted to break your budget, which helps keep unpleasant surprises at bay.

These kinds of insights can have major impacts on your Azure spending in the short term and especially in the long term. According to that 2020 Flexera report we mentioned earlier, businesses working in the cloud reported that their cloud spend was over budget by an average of 23% and that they expect their cloud spend to further increase by 47% over the next year.

“This trend means it’s more critical than ever to get a handle on forecasting and cost optimization.”

-Flexera’s 2020 State of the Cloud Report

How do Azure Cost Management and ShareGate Overcast complement each other?

If two heads are better than one, maybe two tools are better as well?

ACM is a free tool that’s already built into the Azure portal, so if you want to use ShareGate Overcast to get insights into your Azure spending, you can still easily use ACM to get different views and graphs of your data if you need it.

Additionally, if you’re really interested in making quick cuts to your Azure spending, both ACM and ShareGate Overcast offer cost savings recommendations.

And for the most part, ACM and ShareGate Overcast recommend cost optimizations for different types of resources. So, if you use both ACM and ShareGate Overcast, you can take advantage of even more cost saving opportunities.

Both of these Azure cost control tools have their own pros and cons. If you’d rather take the time to create your own dashboards and manually analyze your Azure spending data, the information that ACM provides for you may be enough. Though you might be underestimating the amount of time and effort this type of manual work takes!

If you want an automated solution that will help you gain better visibility over your Azure resource usage and help you identify important cost anomaly and variation data for you, you should check out ShareGate Overcast.

And if you want the best of both worlds, you can always use both tools!

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[Audio] Tobii’s head of global IT on understanding Azure consumption

I got to catch up with Nic Fletcher, head of global IT at Tobii, during the last European SharePoint Conference. Nic was one of the first people to try ShareGate Overcast, our Azure cost management solution, so I was thrilled to hear about his experience with the tool so far: problems solved, favorite features, and how we could provide even more value in future releases. Give it a listen!

Photo of Benjamin Niaulin Microsoft Regional Manager
By Benjamin Niaulin

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