11 steps to cost optimisation and informed financial management in Azure Cloud

    Regardless of cloud you migrate to – Azure or AWS – it creates high expectations when it comes to cost targets and outcomes. And yet reality can surprise us – instead of saving, we often spend more and more money. Fortunately, even if that’s the case, there’s no reason to panic. By implementing basic rules of cloud cost optimisation, control and forecasting, you can regain control over your expenses. Read on to find out how to do so in 11 steps and… enjoy the changes to your next cloud invoice!

    Cloud cost optimisation

    Any architecture element stored in the cloud involves costs. How substantial they can be depends, among other things, on the profile of your virtual machine, the divisions of the silos’ architecture and their mapping onto resources. The invoice is also affected by how well you have planned out your network configuration and outgoing traffic. 

    To take control of these aspects:

    • Use load preview tools to analyse your architecture in terms of cost optimization; 
    • Check and learn about the best cost optimisation practices; 
    • Use Azure Hybrid Benefit or consider paying for your estimated loads in advance with reservation options.

    Cost estimation and control 

    When you get an invoice, you can’t have your costs billed per project or department. This can be remedied by scheduling subscriptions or using markers. Once you know what you are paying for exactly, you will be able to implement cost thresholds and limits, as well as perform detailed expenditure analysis. This will help you optimise your cloud use. 

    • Check and introduce the best practices of cost management employed by other businesses in your sector; 
    • Design a subscription structure for invoice management. Set budgets, allocate project expenses; 
    • Implement cost control and limits for your environment. 

    Mandatory Azure cloud cost reduction areas

    Are there any cloud system resources that “lie fallow”? Yes. Does anyone want to pay for that? No. 

    It’s a good idea to create your system operation schedule and environment life cycle in a way that allows you to pay only for what you use and when you actually use it. This can also apply to situations when we may need greater computing power and more resources.

    Such environments should be configured in the cloud as well. Likewise, look for systems and applications that can be used in the SaaS model. The model may turn out to reduce your costs considerably, both those related to cloud use and those involved in engineering support. 

    Take these 11 steps to review your Azure cloud environment in terms of possible savings. Of course, there are more areas where costs could be reduced, but rest assured: once you’ve completed these steps, you will be ready to look further. 

    Infographic showing 11 steps to ptimizing Microsoft Azure costs

    1. Disable or resize resources you don’t use 

    This step has to do with recommendations as to which resources should be disabled. You’ll be surprised how much you can save this way. Nobody likes to pay for services they don’t use. By looking for such elements and reconfiguring your environment, you will cut your expenses and stop wasting budget resources. 

    2. Azure Hybrid Benefit  

    On the website of Microsoft, the sharpest-eyed will spot a comparison between Azure cloud and its competitors. A manufacturer claims that their Azure for Windows and SQL Server is five times cheaper than its alternatives. That should encourage you not only to find out which company that is, but also to follow the recommendations and see which licences should be moved to the cloud to reduce costs. 

    3. Autoscaling configuration 

    If you know your performance requirements, you can use dynamic resource allocation, introducing it wherever you may need it. This move nearly always generates savings. The better you define your expectations, the greater the savings will be. 

    4. Choose the appropriate Azure computing model  

    You can gain a lot by choosing the right cloud for your application. As we have already demonstrated before, the right Storage Tiering will reduce your cloud costs. And so optimising this aspect of Azure is necessary if you want to cut your costs. 

    5. Shift from traditional to flexible databases 

    If that’s the optimal solution for your organisation, consider shifting to PaaS. 

    6. Create a launch/stop schedule for your virtual machine 

    The launch/stop schedule of virtual machines should be optimised in accordance with their use pattern and availability analysis. This type of scheduling may be very effective, especially in non-production environments, where work does not need to be continuous. 

    7. Reserve instances for consistent load recommendations 

    If your organisation pays for a year or three years in advance, you can get a discount of up to 72% on reservation prices, as compared to fees based on actual Azure platform use. 

    8. Set budgets and allocate project costs  

    Build budget management solutions for the Azure services your organisation subscribes to.  

    9. Move your workload to containers 

    Depending on your workflows and resources, it is often a good idea to use containers, which enable a lighter load architecture, as compared to virtual machines. Organisations that rebuild their apps into containers can reduce their virtual machine use and, as a result, further reduce costs. 

    10. Change your architecture depending on the app  

    Introduce all the necessary changes to use Azure functions such as CosmosDB, Azure Storage, Serverless Computing etc. Why? 

    For example, Azure Cache for Redis stores data in a memory cache, rather than the disk cache, while the Microsoft Azure Service Bus is a fully-managed integration message broker, which can separate and connect apps and services. 

    11. Implement DevOps tools to reduce costs at expert loads 

    In order to reduce business need and solution delivery times, design your tool and developer environment architecture.

    Cost optimisation support

    There are many ways to cut expenses and reduce the costs of cloud use. Look into the subject yourself or enlist the help of an experienced partner. Cloud cost optimisation, control and forecasting are the key elements of the FinOps process. Today, it’s the best-known framework to guarantee optimal cloud expenditure. 

    “Implementing the above recommendations may be your first step toward adopting FinOps in your organisation, which I wholeheartedly recommend. My team and I would be happy to assist you in that journey.” 

    Bartłomiej Flak,
    Delivery Manager in Azure Unit 

    You have just read a post in our series devoted to Microsoft Azure Cloud management. Check out our other articles:

    Dominika Biardzka-Jaworowska
    Dominika Biardzka-Jaworowska
    Head of Azure Unit and leader of the .Net development team. She has 10 years of IT experience, specializing in projects involving migration to the cloud and building cloud architecture. Combines business needs with a technical point of view; creates IT strategies based on Azure services, providing financial benefits. It provides support in implementing the recommendations of the Polish Financial Supervision Authority regarding cloud computing.