Quick Tips to Save Money on Azure Cloud Bills

It's very easy to get started with Azure and deploy resources that will help you use the Microsoft cloud to do amazing things -- but then you get your monthly bill and wonder if there are ways to control it.

Well, there are several, and Azure expert Esteban Garcia will provide a bevy of quick tips in a short, super-focused presentation coming up in November at the big Live! 360 multi-event IT/developer conference in Orlando.

Garcia, CEO - US, Xebia/Xpirit, will share his expertise in a "fast focus" presentation -- meaning it's only 20 minutes -- titled "15 Minutes Could Save You 15% Or More on Your Azure Bill."

As part of the "Cloud & Containers" event at Live! 360, he will share tips on how you can control costs, optimize your workloads and take advantage of tools and offerings that will help you maximize your Azure investment, quickly covering topics including:

  • Azure Advisor
  • Workload review
  • Reserved instances
  • Autoscaling
  • Budgeting
  • Compute choices

Garcia promises attendees will learn:

  • About Azure cost management
  • About ways to scale your services to maximize your cost savings
  • How to save money while making money

We caught up with Garcia to learn more about his presentation.

Virtualization&CloudReview: What inspired you to present a session on cutting Azure costs?
Garcia: The big motivation is really right-sizing Azure, and ensuring that people understand how the choices that they make impact the way they spend their money and use Azure resources. An organization's journey to the cloud should always include security, compliance, and cost controls. Having those in place from the very beginning, allows companies to create a solid foundation for the future.

"Many times, when companies don't have the right controls in place, they find themselves either spending too much, or running their applications with not enough power."

Esteban Garcia, CEO - US, Xebia/Xpirit

Many times, when companies don't have the right controls in place, they find themselves either spending too much, or running their applications with not enough power. This session aims to give attendees knowledge on the resources available to them to get control on their spending, and ensure that they are putting resources towards technology that will power their business.

Inside the Session

What: Fast Focus: 15 Minutes Could Save You 15% Or More on Your Azure Bill

When: Nov. 14, 2 - 2:20 p.m.

Who: Esteban Garcia, CEO - US, Xebia/Xpirit

Why: You can learn how you can control costs, optimize your workloads, and take advantage of tools and offerings that will help you maximize your Azure investment.

Find out more about Visual Studio Live!, taking place Nov. 12-17 in Orlando

Azure's ease of use often leads to quick deployments and resource usage. What is just one common reason that users experience unexpectedly high bills, and how can these surprises be minimized?
One of the biggest benefits of cloud computing is the ease in which a person can spin up compute resources, scale them up or out, and tear them down quickly when there's no more need for the resources. Only paying for what you use is a very compelling argument. The problem comes up when resources are not turned off or when resources are overpowered for the workloads that are running on them. Some simple things that can be done to get ahead of this potential problem are:

  • Create policies to limit the kinds and size of resources that are able to be created within a subscription.
  • Use tags, along with policies to enforce them, that help teams track resource ownership and chargeback mechanisms.
  • Leverage Infrastructure as Code (ie. ARM, Bicep, Terraform) to be able to quickly re-deploy resources, which will encourage teams to tear down unused resources.
  • Make use of budgets and alerts to minimize surprises related to high costs.

You've mentioned the Azure Advisor as one of the tools that can help control costs. Can you provide a brief overview of how Azure Advisor works and its significance in cost management?
Azure Advisor is a tool provided by Microsoft Azure that uses smart technology to give you advice on making the most of your cloud resources. It checks how you're using your Azure services and suggests ways to save money, make things work faster, and keep your data safe. When it comes to saving money, Azure Advisor suggests things like using the right amount of resources so you don't waste any, getting better deals on certain services, and using cost-effective storage options. It's like having a smart assistant that helps you manage your Azure resources in the best and most cost-effective way possible.

Here are some ways that Azure Advisor can help with cost management:

  • Data Collection: Azure Advisor gathers usage patterns, configurations, and performance metrics to gain a comprehensive view of your environment.
  • Analysis: Azure Advisor analyzes the collected data to identify areas where improvements can be made, and looks for opportunities to enhance cost efficiency, performance, security, and reliability.
  • Recommendations: Azure Advisor generates actionable recommendations categorized into different areas, such as cost optimization, performance improvement, security enhancement, and high availability.
  • Cost Optimization: Azure Advisor provides insights into how you can optimize your Azure spending. For example, it suggests resizing or deallocating underutilized resources, adopting reserved instances, and using low-cost storage options.
  • Right-Sizing: Azure Advisor assesses the performance and utilization of Azure resources to suggest appropriate sizes that match actual workload needs. This can help prevent overprovisioning and overspending.
  • Storage Optimization: The service also identifies opportunities to optimize storage costs by suggesting options like moving infrequently accessed data to lower-cost storage tiers.

Reserved instances can offer significant cost savings. Could you explain the benefits and potential drawbacks of opting for reserved instances as opposed to pay-as-you-go models?
Reserved Instances (RI) are a great way for organizations to control costs. Microsoft gives organizations better pricing in exchange for a 1 or 3-year commitment. By doing so, companies can better budget their spending and predict their ongoing costs. A great side-effect of this is that organizations are guaranteed availability of resources in their intended Azure region.

These are all great benefits with very good cost savings over pay-as-you-go pricing, but they do come with some drawbacks that should be understood upfront. Your RI commitment locks you into a specific instance type and region, which may mean that you are paying for unused capacity if the workload that you need is not compatible with your commitment. This may lead to lower flexibility when you try to scale your solution up or out, and also increases your planning complexity.

Autoscaling seems like an effective way to manage costs. How does autoscaling in Azure ensure that users aren't overpaying for unused resources, and are there any scenarios where autoscaling might not be the best choice?
Autoscaling in Azure is a good way to reduce costs, since you won't overpay for unused resources. It dynamically adjusts the number of resources based on their demand, which means you only pay for what you use. During periods of high demand, it adds resources to maintain performance, and during lulls, it scales down to avoid paying for idle resources. This not only optimizes costs but also ensures consistent performance during traffic spikes.

There are scenarios where autoscaling might not be the best choice. If your workload has predictable and steady demand patterns, manual resource provisioning may be more cost-effective. Autoscaling can also be complex to implement, especially for applications not designed with scalability in mind. Additionally, certain constraints, such as minimum instance requirements or licensing costs, can limit your ability to implement autoscaling. Prior to implementing autoscaling, you should evaluate your specific workload and infrastructure constraints to determine whether autoscaling would help you achieve your cost-optimization goals.

While many businesses aim to cut costs, maximizing revenue is equally crucial. How can Azure users strike a balance between saving money on their Azure bills and optimizing their services to generate revenue?
Effective monitoring and analysis of resource usage help identify cost-saving opportunities by right-sizing resources and optimizing performance. Azure Reserved Instances (RIs) offer significant discounts for long-term workloads, reducing operational expenses for services contributing to revenue. Implementing autoscaling for variable-demand workloads ensures resources are available when needed without incurring unnecessary costs. Having your services available, and ready to serve your customers, means that you will be able to maximize the resources that you are paying for, and turning that uptime into higher revenue.

Additionally, robust cost management practices, such as cost tagging and allocation, help attribute expenses accurately to revenue-generating services. Leveraging Azure's cost management tools and regularly reviewing and adjusting resource allocation based on business goals and performance monitoring are essential. This approach ensures Azure users can reduce costs without compromising the quality and availability of services critical to generating revenue, ultimately leading to a well-balanced cloud strategy.

Note: Those wishing to attend the conference can save hundreds of dollars by registering early, according to the event's pricing page. "Save up to $300 if you register by Oct. 20," said the organizer of the event, which is presented by the parent company of of Virtualization & Cloud Review.


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