9 Tips to Lower Your Microsoft Azure Costs

Microsoft Azure provides a powerful set of services to help developers build and deploy their apps. Azure makes it so easy to use that you can quickly let your Azure hosting costs get out of control.  However, there are ways to better manage your Azure pricing and optimize your overall costs. Many of the benefits of the cloud can be expressed in terms of cost savings. Microsoft’s assessment of the benefits of using Azure Platform as a Service include dollars saved from reduced time spent on administrative tasks, reduced need for system and database administrators, increased developer productivity, and reduced time to market.  To get those benefits, it’s important to make smart choices about how you use Azure and how you manage your instances. Use these hints to manage your Azure instances more effectively and get even more cost savings out of your switch to the cloud. 
  1. Choose to pay in advance instead of pay as you go 
    One of the best features of the cloud is the ability to pay for just what you need, when you need it. But if you have a very good understanding of the capacity you need, you can use Azure Reserved Virtual Machine instances and obtain significant savings 
    over pay as you go instances. Microsoft has offered discounts of 2.5-5% based on 6 or 12 months pre-payment. Check to see if you can take advantage of this.  
  3. Don’t pay for a bigger instance than you need
    You may be used to buying capacity in advance in your data center because of the time it takes to purchase and provision new hardware. Those administrative and procedural delays go away when you’re running in the cloud; you can rapidly add new capacity on demand. Save money by using an instance that just fits your processing requirements and scale up only when you need the additional capacity.
  5. Get free money from Microsoft by working with an Azure partner on a project 
    If you have a big project to move to Azure, you can get some discounts to help incentivize and pay for a Microsoft partner, such as Grade A, to assist making it happen. 
  7. Shutdown unneeded instances
    You’ll save money by shutting down instances that aren’t being used. Auto-shutdown lets you create a shutdown schedule, ensuring this task is never forgotten in the rush to go home at the end of the day. Azure DevTest Labs is a cost-effective way to manage non-production servers, including the auto-shutdown feature.
  9. Use the tools available
    Azure Advisor is your forever friend for tuning the Azure platform, with cost optimisation being one of its key components. Azure will constantly scan and refresh optimisation results, so don’t forget to tune thresholds to your needs. The default report will for instance only flag machines that have below 5% CPU utilisation. 
  10. Azure Cost Management keeps a constant watch on the Azure environment and is a great tool for identifying spend on a global scale or down to a granular level. Combined with a good resource tagging policy, cost management can enable deep insights into platform spend. It pays to keep a close watch on costs as the freedom that Azure presents also runs the danger of unexpected bills – introducing budgets and thresholds can help prevent this. Cost Alerts are a simple way of being notified by email if costs are escalating.
  11. Utilise native components
    Replacing applications with Azure native components can help to reduce ongoing IT costs, not only in the cost of the software but in ongoing operational management costs. It is worth comparing Azure products with third-party software; Azure Monitor and Application Insights platform are just two examples of inbuilt tools companies have utilised on Azure. Cost savings can vary from company to company but on average typical savings tend to be between 30% and 50% when utilising native components. 
  13. Use auto-scaling to reduce costs during off hours
    Most apps have busier and slower periods throughout a week or day. Take advantage of auto-scaling built into Azure to save some money during slow periods. 
  14. These deployment types all support auto-scaling: 
    • Cloud Services 
    • App Services 
    • VM Scale Sets (Including Batch, Service Fabric, Container Service) 
    Scaling could also mean shutting your app down completely. App Services have a feature called AlwaysOn that controls if the app should shut down due to no activity.
  15. Hybrid benefits
    Bringing your existing licenses or buying licenses for your VMs and can help reduce ongoing spend on the Azure platform. Utilising hybrid benefits on your Windows licensing can produce significant cost savings.
  17. Identify your most used and slowest web requests or transactions
    Look for requests that are taking a lot of time or happen a moderate number of times but take way too long. Look at ASP.NET transaction traces to see if too many SQL queries are happening, slow web services, etc.
  18. Most modern applications are more bound by database or web service calls. If your code itself may be slow, you probably want to use a standard .NET profiler, like the Visual Studio profiler to try and figure out why. 
  If you’re interested in learning more about how you can reduce your Azure costs, contact a Grade A representative. We’ll work with you to assess your current environment and provide recommendations to help your business optimize spend.  
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