You go through the Azure price calculator and figure out everything you think are going to need for your Azure VM and how much each resource will cost you on a monthly basis. You then pick a template from the marketplace and implement it assuming you know what services are being stood up. Do you really know?
What you may not realize is that if you didn’t go through the pricing calculator thuroughly you may be in for some surprises on your bill. Not only do you get charged for the hardware that you have selected, but also the image that you choose to run on it.
The cost per minute of each image is not posted on the image itself. This is made up of each component you are using and can be figured by reviewing adding up all the costs listed here. If you don’t know to look there then you won’t know that there are additional costs until you get the invoice at the end of your billing period, and these can really add up.
As I mentioned above this surprise can also be avoided by knowing server type you should select in the pricing calculator. You may assume you are just getting a Windows server and then adding SQL Server too it, but if you pick SQL Server as the Type for you vitual machine you will see that the real cost almost doubles for you VM. This is the server type that is actually used for the SQL Server templates.
In some cases you will find that licensing the software in the template costs much less than running the image. Since you are renting SQL Server instead of buying it you are paying for it each month.
If a SQL Server standard license cost you $600 per processor and you are running a 2 processor server you can put SQL server on it yourself for $1200. The same VM loaded with SQL Server standard will cost you ~$300 a month. At that rate you would pay for the license in 4 months. You need to take this into account when making your decisions.
Of course if you are only running the server as a testing server that is shut down most of the time then your cost for a year may actually come in under the cost of a license.
The point is be educated about what your Azure VM is really going to cost you and what your return on investment is.