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Explore FAQs on Azure subscription management

For some IT teams, particularly those new to Microsoft's public cloud, Azure subscriptions spark a number of pressing questions related to billing, resource management and more.

Microsoft Azure has become a common destination for enterprises that have built their IT infrastructure and application strategy around Windows and Office ecosystems. As Microsoft shops plan their move to the cloud, however, they need to carefully navigate the new world of subscriptions and payment models.

Many enterprises come to Azure from on-premises environments covered by a Microsoft enterprise agreement (EA), which can extend to cover Azure services. In addition, spending often reaches a point where IT wants to control overall usage and billing through centralized Azure subscription management. 

To do this successfully, admins need to master the key concepts and terms found in an Azure subscription, effectively structure and manage a subscription and understand the importance of management groups.

But, even then, questions around Azure subscriptions are bound to arise. Based on threads within the Microsoft user forum and other outlets, here are some of the most pressing questions admins have around Azure subscriptions -- as well as answers that can help.

How can teams move a resource from one Azure subscription to another?

Admins can move resources, such as a machine image, between Azure resource groups and subscriptions. There are several reasons to do this, including the movement of a project between teams or cost centers, employee termination or billing consolidation. An admin can move a resource via a command in the Azure portal as well as with PowerShell or the command-line interface (CLI). Here, we'll discuss how to perform this task through the portal. 

First, access the portal, and then navigate to the resource group that contains the resource being moved. Select the Move button. Next, choose whether to move the resource to another resource group or subscription, and then select that specific destination and resource to move. View the notifications icon to track the move status; a message will display when it completes.

Note that any usage credits associated with the resource will not transfer to the new subscription. Also, some resources, such as firewalls and container instances, cannot be moved. 

What are the steps to transfer a subscription to another account?

An IT organization that wants to centralize Azure subscription management might consolidate subscriptions under fewer cloud accounts for better control over usage and budgets.

To transfer a subscription to another account, sign in as the account admin to access the Azure account center. Then, as Microsoft outlines, select the subscription to transfer, confirm it can be changed via self-service and click Transfer subscription. The UI will display a form where admins can provide details of the new owner, who will receive an email of the transfer with a clickable link to acknowledge and agree to the transfer.

Users with subscriptions under an EA follow a similar process using the EA portal, but can only transfer subscriptions within the same EA enrollment.

What's the best way to cancel a subscription?

In some cases, an organization will want to outright cancel, rather than transfer, a subscription. This choice comes down to whether a company wants to keep existing resources or not. If it has production infrastructure and wants to avoid downtime, then it should transfer, not cancel. In other cases, it will prefer to cancel various scattered subscriptions and start fresh with a singular Azure cloud strategy.

Similar to a subscription transfer, cancellation requires logging in as the account admin, but this time in the Azure portal. Next, navigate to the subscriptions page to select the subscription to cancel. Choose Overview and click Cancel subscription. Once the subscription is canceled, Microsoft disables all the Azure services associated with it, so the vendor advises admins to back up all data in Azure storage and database services.

How do admins edit payment information for an Azure subscription?

Cost oversight continues to top the list of responsibilities for cloud admins. It's also a core part of Azure subscription management, and teams may have to frequently update or edit existing payment methods to meet their organization's needs.

The Azure Account Center is home to payment details for Azure services, where an IT team member will again need to log in as the account administrator to make changes. Once logged in, select Manage payment methods on the right side of the page, which displays a form listing current payment methods. Select either Edit to modify a current credit card or the plus symbol to add a new one. If a company uses the same credit card for multiple subscriptions, it needs to remove the card from all active subscriptions before it can remove the card from its Azure account.

How can an organization switch from credit card payments to invoices?

To switch from credit card to invoice billing, submit a request to Azure support. Upon approval, open the Azure portal, navigate to Help + support > New support request and, according to Microsoft, complete the following steps:

  • Select Billing as the issue type, choose the subscription to change, select a support plan and then select Next.
  • Select Pay by Invoice in the Problem Type box and provide the following information in the accompanying form:
    • company name
    • billing address
    • account admin's email address
  • Confirm your contact information and chosen contact method, and then click Create.

Paying by invoice is only available for business accounts, and, as Microsoft warns, switching to this payment method is a one-way street; once a company makes the switch, it can't go back to credit or debit card payment.

How can admins authorize other people to submit support requests for a subscription?

To further facilitate comprehensive Azure subscription management, administrators can grant permission to others to submit support requests through role-based access control.

Go to the Subscriptions page in the Azure portal. Select Settings and choose the user to receive support rights from the resulting list. From the resulting User page, select Add to select the custom role Support Request Contributor from the list. Then, select Add users and the email credentials of the user selected previously.

Is it possible to automate subscription creation within an EA?

Yes. Microsoft has an API in preview that lets a company automatically create subscriptions within an EA. To use the API, there must be an active owner or contributor role within the EA enrollment account. Admins can use the Azure REST API, PowerShell or CLI -- each of which requires different commands.

Is it possible to programmatically grant access to a subscription within an EA?

Again, yes. Admins can use the same preview API mentioned above to delegate this access using role-based access controls. Microsoft outlines the commands required to add an account to the Owner role by using either REST syntax, PowerShell or the CLI.

This was last published in February 2019

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