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AKS Pricing: How to Choose the Right Plan for You

A guide to help you choose the right AKS pricing plan for your organization.

AKS pricing

Azure Kubernetes Service, also known as AKS, removes the complexities of managing and running Kubernetes by yourself – allowing you to focus on your workloads with less time spent managing the service.

This is a huge advantage for many organizations, allowing teams to streamline and create more efficient processes.

While there are many ways to run Kubernetes other than directly, for example, using Amazon EKS, AKS has been a favorite Kubernetes option for many users since the introduction of the service back in 2018.

And rightfully so – you pay for the virtual machines, associated storage, and other network resources for an efficient and reliable container service, fully managed with a ton of AKS pricing options to suit any budget. 

So, with that in mind, this article will explain AKS pricing in more detail, exploring pricing options, how it all works, and how to find the right AKS plan for your team.

AKS pricing explained

As with most cloud services that offer Kubernetes managed support, there are several pricing options on offer to help you make the most of the service.

Pricing varies depending on region, so keep that in mind if comparing plans.

To begin with, you have the Azure free tier – a great plan for organizations finding their feet with Kubernetes and looking to try out the service before fully committing. 

Nonetheless, AKS pricing plans include:

  • Azure free
  • The pay-as-you-go AKS pricing plan
  • 1-year reserved instance
  • 3-year reserved instance
  • Spot instances

Keep reading to learn more about each plan and whether it’s the right choice for you. 

Azure free

You can try AKS free for twelve months with a mix of services. You’ll be given $200 in credit to use within thirty days too, allowing you to play around with clusters in Azure Kubernetes.

Once you’ve exhausted the $200 budget, you’ll be placed onto a pay-as-you-go plan – paying for what you use on a regular basis.

The pay-as-you-go AKS pricing plan

The standard pay-as-you-go plan gives you the freedom to try a mix of different services without fully committing. 

Note that this type of pricing is often more expensive than other plans. But if you’re just trying AKS for the first time, then it’s a great stepping stone before committing to other, longer-term plans.  

1-year reserved instance

Reserved instances are a good way to save extra money on your AKS costs. There are two options: one year and three year instances.

Reserving one year of AKS services creates more predictable pricing, monthly payment options, and up to 48% savings. However, there’s a price to pay for this type of commitment.

3-year reserved instance

The same applies to the three-year reserved instances – if you’re willing to commit to a longer-term plan with set resources, then you can save up to 65% on your AKS costs.

Despite the impressive savings, if you have unpredictable workloads and containers, then a reserved instance is likely not the best option for you – you may hit the limits or not use them up entirely (costing you more money than needed).

Still, if you have reliable workloads, then reserved instances are one of the best ways to save money.

Spot instances 

Spot instances are a great AKS pricing option for workloads and clusters that can be interrupted – or even production workloads if you have automation in place.

Spot instances use unused capacity for significant cost savings up to 88%. However, there is one big downside: these workloads can be interrupted with little to no warning.

So, if you’re running batch processing, machine learning, or similar tasks (that can be interrupted), then this can help you maximize AKS savings. But avoid running containers that cannot be interrupted when using spot instances unless you use spot instance automation. 

Use the AKS pricing calculator 

When in doubt, use the AKS pricing calculator

The pricing calculator allows you to generate a much more accurate pricing estimate, helping you decide which plan is right for you.

How to choose the right AKS pricing plan for you

There is no outright best AKS pricing plan for your organization. Instead, it depends on your needs, and, most importantly, whether you have a cloud cost optimization solution in place to help you automate spot instances.

If you’re still struggling, then we’d suggest inputting your requirements into the AKS pricing calculator to find out what you can expect to pay, mapping this to a pricing plan that best matches both your budget and goals.

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What does AKS stand for?

AKS stands for Azure Kubernetes Service – a managed cloud service that allows you to run Kubernetes without the added stress of managing the entire process yourself.

Is AKS pay as you go?

AKS offers a pay-as-you-go pricing plan, but there are more cost effective AKS pricing plans available for organizations willing to use spot instances.

Is Azure AKS expensive?

AKS is free to get started, but prices for the platform run similar to others offered by AWs and Google Cloud Platform.

What is an AKS cluster?

An AKS cluster is a Kubernetes cluster allowing you to run a set of nodes for containerized applications.

How do you optimize Kubernetes clusters?

The best way to optimize Kubernetes clusters is by choosing a managed service like CAST AI to help you save money and reduce the required workload.

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