The peculiarities and undeniable advantages of cloud computing can, in certain situations, hide pitfalls if not handled with due attention. Wise cost management is one of the crucial aspects of cloud governance. In this article, will be explored and outlined the principles and techniques that can be used to optimize and minimize expenses relating to the resources implemented in the Azure environment.
The issue of optimizing costs related to the cloud is a topic that is attracting increasingly greater interest among numerous customers. So that, for the seventh year in a row, emerges as the leading initiative in the cloud industry, as reported in Flexera's annual report 2023.
Principles to better manage costs
For effective management of costs associated with Azure, It is essential to adopt the principles outlined in the following paragraphs.
A well-structured design process, which includes a meticulous analysis of business needs, it is essential to customize the adoption of cloud solutions. It therefore becomes crucial to outline the infrastructure to be implemented and how it will be used, through a design plan that aims to optimize the efficiency of the resources allocated in the Azure environment.
It is vital to equip yourself with tools that offer a global view and allow you to receive notifications regarding Azure costs, thus facilitating constant and proactive monitoring of expenses.
Assigning cloud resource costs to the respective organizational units within the company is a smart practice. This ensures that managers are fully aware of the expenses attributable to their team, promoting an in-depth understanding of Azure spending at an organizational level. For this purpose, It is advisable to structure Azure resources in such a way as to facilitate the identification and attribution of costs.
It is advisable to undertake periodic reviews of Azure resources with the intention of minimizing expenses where possible. Making use of available information, you can easily identify underutilized resources, eliminate waste and capitalize on cost saving opportunities.
It is essential that IT staff are continuously engaged in the iterative processes of optimizing the costs of Azure resources. This represents a key element for responsible and effective management of the cloud environment.
Techniques to optimize costs
Regardless of the specific tools and solutions used, to refine cost management in Azure, you can adhere to the following strategies:
- Turn off unused resources, given that the pricing of the various Azure services is based on the actual use of the resources. For those resources that do not require uninterrupted operation and that allow, without any loss of configurations or data, a deactivation or suspension, it is possible to implement an automation system. This system, regulated by a predefined schedule, facilitates the optimization of use and, consequentially, more economical management of the resources themselves.
- Adequately size resources, consolidating workloads and proactively intervening on underutilized resources, allows us to avoid waste and guarantee a more efficient and targeted use of available capacities.
- For resources used continuously in the Azure environment, evaluate the option of Reservations can prove to be an advantageous strategy. Azure Reservations offer the opportunity to benefit from a significant cost reduction, which can reach up to 72% compared to pay-as-you-go rates. This benefit can be obtained by committing to pay for the use of Azure resources for a period of one or three years. This payment can be made in advance or on a monthly basis, at no additional cost. The purchase of Reservations can be made directly from the Azure portal and is available to customers with the following subscription types: Enterprise Agreement, Pay-As-You-Go and Cloud Solution Provider (CSP).
- To further mitigate costs associated with Azure, it is appropriate to consider the implementation of’Azure Hybrid Benefit. This advantage allows you to achieve significant savings, as Microsoft only allows you to bear the costs relating to the Azure infrastructure, while the licenses for Windows Server or SQL Server are covered by a Software Assurance contract or an existing subscription.
The Azure Hybrid Benefit can also be extended to Azure SQL Database, to SQL Servers installed on Azure virtual machines and SQL Managed Instances. These benefits facilitate the transition to cloud solutions, bidding up to 180 days of dual use right, and help leverage pre-existing investments in terms of SQL Server licenses. To learn more about how to use the Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server, please consult the FAQs present in this document. It is important to note that this benefit is also applicable to RedHat and SUSE Linux subscriptions, further expanding the opportunities for savings and cost optimization.
The Azure Hybrid Benefit can be combined with Azure Reserved VM Instances, creating an opportunity for significant savings that can reach 80% of the total, especially when you opt for an Azure Reserved Instance purchase for the duration of 3 years. This synergy not only makes the investment cheaper, but also maximizes operational efficiency.
- Considering the integration of new technologies and the application of architectural optimizations is crucial. This process involves the selection of the most appropriate Azure service for the specific needs of the application in question, ensuring not only optimal technological alignment, but also more efficient cost management.
- Allocate and de-allocate resources dynamically is critical to meeting fluctuating performance needs. This approach is known as “autoscaling”, a process that facilitates the flexible allocation of resources to meet specific performance needs at any time. As the workload intensifies, an application may require additional resources to maintain desired performance levels and meet SLAs (Service Level Agreement). On the contrary, when demand reduces and additional resources are no longer essential, these can be de-allocated to minimize costs. Autoscaling capitalizes on the elasticity of cloud environments, allowing not only more effective cost management, but also reducing the administrative burden, as resources can be managed more smoothly and with less manual intervention.
- For test and development environments, it is advisable to consider the use of Dev/Test subscriptions, which offer the opportunity to access significant discounts on Azure fees. These subscriptions can be activated under an Enterprise Agreement, thus facilitating more advantageous cost management and more agile and economical experimentation during the development and testing phases.
The adoption of a methodological approach in managing cloud costs, together with the use of appropriate strategies, represents a fundamental pillar for successfully navigating the complex challenge of cloud economic management. Drawing from the principles and techniques outlined in this article, users can not only optimize expenses, but also make the most of their investment in the cloud, ensuring a balance between costs and benefits.