Are you guys using any form of render management? Like Hqueue or Deadline?
He stated that he is not using some render manager on the last page.
He likes to remote ssh more.
There is Royal Render as well, they have support for Azure.
And the current version requires you to buy a small 4 license pack only and cloud is for free with the current version.
(The render manager license, not the Azure VMs)
About the licensing: Yes, the metered license per minute/hour on AWS and in Azure (search for "batch" for prices) are expensive.
Some software vendors offer 1 month rental licenses as well.
You might want to go for these.
There are usally enough VMs available if you have a 2-3days until your deadline.
Note that you are not limited by time.
In your company you have to start rendering on your e.g. 20 machines on friday to finish until monday.
On the client you do not have to think in time, just cost.
On the cloud you can get 60 machines for the half of 2 nights and get the same render done.
And exactly the same cost. 3 days with 20 VMs or 2 x half day with 60 Vms.