Within the past few years, businesses have increasingly shifted their digital infrastructures and resources to platforms like Microsoft Azure, a cloud computing service to help organizations optimize cloud costs, manage applications, and increase their ROI.
Though Microsoft Azure is crucial for controlling your costs, there may be areas that you are not considering where you could lower the cost spent on your cloud-based platform. This article will cover ten ways to optimize your Microsoft Azure platform and save even more on costs to manage your monthly spending and ensure that your cloud costs are free of wasteful resources.
1. Make a Shift to Elastic Pools
Azure cost optimization could mean making some big changes. Moving away from your company’s traditional databases could give you a better idea of how to lower Azure costs with affordable solutions. An elastic cloud-based platform means your data centers aren’t running 24/7, saving you high costs that you don’t need to spend on Azure.
Azure’s SQL database offers elastic pools to help you save costs and guarantee that your databases only receive necessary performance resources. Elastic pools allocate your resources and stay within a specific budget to keep your cloud cost-effective. Elastic pools eliminate issues regarding the overprovision or underprovision of resources that lower customer satisfaction.
2. Right-Size Your VMs
If you are wondering how to reduce Azure costs, you should consider right-sizing your VMs. Right-sizing your virtual machines helps ensure that your VM fits your company’s current workload and provides the perfect capacity for your platform. Right-sizing helps you use Azure at a low cost to get as close to 100% VM utilization as possible to optimize your VM costs fully. Azure offers numerous VMs, all with unique hardware and performance features.
You may want to try different VMs for your workload to determine which VM offers the best performance or throughput. You can use auto-scaling when necessary to adjust your VMs to fluctuations in your workflow. Avoid over-provisioning or under-provisioning in your VMs. When you overprovision, you spend too much on Azure resources you don’t need. When you under-provision, you leave your company at risk of not having enough resources to meet customer demands.
It’s important to remember the numerous options for Azure VMs and the unique features of each option. Microsoft Azure groups VM’s as follows.
- General-purpose VMs contain a balanced CPU-to-memory. These VMs are best for testing and development, low-to-medium-volume traffic web servers, sql servers, and small or midsize databases.
- Compute-optimized VMs have a high CPU-to-memory and are best for a medium-volume traffic web server, batch processes, application servers, and network appliances.
- Memory-optimized VMs have a high memory-to-CPU and are beneficial for relational databases, medium-to-large-sized caches, and in-memory analytics.
- Storage-optimized VMs have a high disk throughput and I/O and are best for big data, SQL, and NoSQL databases.
- GPU-optimized databases are specialized VMs with single or multiple GPUs. They are best for companies managing graphics and video editing.
- High-performance VMs is the fastest, most powerful CPU. These VMs have an optional high-throughput network interface. High-performance VMs are best for companies managing critical, high-performance applications.
3. Identify and Shut Down Unused Resources
A surefire way to reduce Azure storage costs is by identifying and shutting down any unused resources in your platform. Identifying your unused resources will help you-go and develop a strategy that ensures optimal performance and usage of your VMs.
Shutting down idle or unused VMs will help optimize and allocate your cloud resources. These VMs were once crucial to your company but are now unused, leading to higher and unnecessary costs. When you clean out the resources your company no longer needs, you can successfully lower the cost of Azure.
However, you may be hesitant to shut down some of your VMs because you are unsure which VMs count as underutilized or idle. Azure Advisor can offer recommendations on which VMs and resources are no longer necessary for your business through the following.
- Recommendation criteria such as CPU or Outbound Network usage metrics
- Analyzing the past seven days of data utilization
- Sampling metrics every 30 seconds aggregated to one minute, then aggregated to 30 minutes.
- Recommending shutdowns if P95th of the maximum value of your CPU utilization is less than 3% across all cores, if P100 of your average CPU over the previous three days is <=2%, or if your Outbound Network utilization is less than 2% over a week-long period
Finding ways to stop paying for unused resources is a no-brainer when it comes to Azure cost management techniques. Azure offers a more robust set of options than, say, Aws, but requires more customization and attention to detail as well.
4. Set Your Budgets and Allocate Resources
Lowering Azure costs requires that you budget and allocate your resources, and keeping a consistent budget is vital for cost management and organizational accountability. Budgeting and allocating in Azure gives you critical insights into how you and your team spend resources and manage costs and how allocating your resources will help you lower your spending costs over time. You may even with to consult an Azure pricing calculator to fully understand the financial implications of your cloud providers.
With Azure, you can configure alerts based on actual or future costs to avoid overspending. If your budget exceeds its threshold, you receive a notification via email, and your resources remain unaffected.
Azure also offers numerous management tools to help you lower costs and stay within your budget, such as its pricing calculator, spending limit alerts, advisor, and portal cost management and billing.
5. Use Azure Hybrid Benefits for Azure Cost Management
When you find yourself overspending on unnecessary resources, you need to focus on Azure Cost Management. One way you can ensure lower costs is by using the Azure Hybrid Benefit program, which leverages the enterprise install base from Microsoft. Companies can receive up to 80% discounts when using the Hybrid Benefit program. Azure Hybrid Benefit aims to help you reduce the cost of your cloud’s workflow, saving your company massive costs and resources. Azure also offers an Azure Hybrid Benefit calculator to understand how much you could save with this benefit.
6. Storage Tiering
Azure services offer a variety of flexible options for clients to consider: from on-premises storage to 100% cloud options. Your company might need significant storage when using Azure, and the more storage needed, the pricier Azure becomes. With storage tiering, you can lower the cost of Azure by beginning your data on a low-cost tier. Azure Blob Storage offers different storage tiers with a set price of GB per month: Premium, Hot, Cool, and Archive.
Ensure that you use the best tier for the data you manage. You can place data you don't often use in a lower-cost tier to decrease Azure billing and see a substantial overall reduction in your monthly Azure spending. The Azure portal also implements redundancy options to reduce your storage costs.
One final option you may wish to consider is to complement the proper tier option with additional storage. SSDs, Premium SSDs, Standard Disks are all options you may wish to research and consider. Making the right decision about data storage is key to getting the most value out of your Azure services.
7. Reserved Instances for Cost Optimization
Azure offers various built-in cost-saving options to help you reduce costs and eliminate unnecessary resources. One of the best options Azure provides is its Reserved Instances feature, which allows you to receive massive discounts by committing between 1-3 years. While you have to commit upfront, Azure Reserved Instances can save your company up to 80% in costs. Azure offers three options in its Reserved Instances capabilities.
A one-year reserved instance involves an upfront payment with a 40-45% discount on most VMs. A three-year reserved instance offers 60-65% discounts for most of your VMs once you have paid upfront for three years. The final option, spot pricing, allows you to bid for any available capacity on Azure’s marketplace to receive instances between 80-90% discounts—however, it’s important to note that these instances might get interrupted without warning.
8. Shift Your Workload to Containers
Azure allows you to use containers to store your workloads in a much more efficient and lightweight way than your current VMs. This can be a powerful tool for cost optimization. Shifting your workload to containers will allow you to run numerous applications on a single host with multiple containers. Once you repackage your applications as containers, you can reduce the usage of VMs in your cloud services and consequently reduce Azure costs.
Using containers means that your company can lower the need for multiple VMs. However, before shifting your workload to containers, consult with an Azure expert to ensure that your costs will lower—containers could ramp up your costs when not used correctly.
9. Configure Autoscaling
Autoscaling is a wise strategy for companies looking to reduce Azure costs. When you autoscale, you allocate your resources to align with current performance requirements. When your work volume increases, your cloud platform can autoscale to incorporate additional resources; these resources can be de-allocated when it decreases.
There are two types of scaling that you might utilize: vertical and horizontal. Vertical scaling involves altering the capacity of your resources, such as switching an application to a larger VM. Vertical scaling is automated less than horizontal scaling because it could make your system unavailable for some time.
Horizontal scaling involves adding or removing specific instances of your resources. Automating horizontal scaling doesn’t interrupt your system and deploys the solution as soon as the provisioning process finishes.
Azure autoscaling allows you to set the rules for your usage patterns, including your company’s computing, database, and storage resources. Autoscaling helps you stay below a set threshold to ensure you never overspend.
10. Azure Cloud Automation
The fewer manual cloud management tasks your team handles, the better. Developer time is obviously an important factor in most budgets. And manual updates of this sort are not only time-consuming, they can also be prone to human error. In brief, automation offers the potential to save and become more efficient both short and long term.
Worried that your team might be missing opportunities to automate Azure Cloud managmenet tasks? Or otherwise concerned that your Azure usage and management is not as efficient and effective as it could be? Consider reaching out to ne Digital to learn more about our Azure managed services options and how they can help you reduce monthly costs and improve scalability.