7. Use autoscaling to drive down costs
Another way to control costs during your non-peak hours is by automatically scaling your usage. Autoscaling is when you set up pre-defined rules for your compute, database, and storage resources to scale automatically if they go above or below a certain threshold.
Azure Autoscale dynamically scales cloud services, Virtual Machine Scale Sets, and more to help meet fluctuating demand. Autoscaling ensures that you always have applications available without having to pay too much or facing performance issues and outages.
8. Cool it on the unnecessary “hot” storage
How often do you access your data? Depending upon how often you use your Azure Blob storage, you may not need to access or modify data as frequently as you think. However, if you’re keeping that infrequently accessed data in the “Hot” storage tier, which has the highest storage costs, you could be paying too much.
While Hot storage is affordable and easy to access, it’s expensive to keep archival data there. Consider moving it to Cool storage or the Archive tier. Azure Cool storage should be stored for a minimum of 30 days and is kept online. The Archive tier is offline but has flexible latency requirements for when you need to access that information. Either option can lower your cloud spend, as long as the data stays infrequently accessed.
9. Manage your budget with Azure cost tools, reports, and alerts
Microsoft’s cloud offering includes several cloud billing management tools for cost estimation, reporting, and alerts to help you lower Azure spend and stay on budget. Some of these tools include:
- Azure Pricing Calculator: Understand Azure pricing and predict costs of running workloads
- Azure Portal Cost Management + Billing: Use the Azure Portal to estimate monthly costs for services
- Azure spending limit alerts: Receive email notifications when you reach spending limits for specific Azure services
- Azure Advisor: Optimize infrastructure for performance, availability, and costs
10. Perform an Azure Well-Architected Review Assessment
Microsoft Azure offers numerous assessments to help you evaluate your Azure environment against industry best practices. A Well-Architected Review helps you examine your workload through the five pillars of the Well-Architected Framework: reliability, security, cost optimization, operational excellence, and performance efficiency.
Some of the topics included in the cost optimization pillar include:
- Cost requirements
- Cost of resources in Azure regions
- Initial cost estimates
- Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)
- Provisioning of cloud resources
- Monitoring and optimizing cost
- Tradeoffs between costs and other aspects of architecture (e.g., security, resilience, scalability, and operability)
11. Bring FinOps practices to your organization
If your team is working to lower Azure spend, you and your colleagues need to align on more than cloud costs. Building a FinOps practice can help lower your Azure spend and promote alignment around cloud budgeting across your organization.
FinOps, short for cloud financial operations, is an approach that combines data, organization, and culture to help companies manage their cloud spend. A FinOps practice balances advanced metrics and measures of success around cloud cost optimization with the organization’s business goals and metrics, such as revenue, profit, growth projections, and long-term analysis.
Anyone can practice FinOps, but you’ll want to ensure that you have the right stakeholders weighing in on your cloud finances. Traditional cost management practices revolve around cloud owners, such as architects and managers. However, FinOps bridges gaps between disciplines like IT, engineering, DevOps, and finance, and it also requires buy-in from one or more members of the C-suite (CFO, CTO, and others).
The FinOps Foundation provides a helpful framework for developing a FinOps practice. They narrowed down the building blocks of FinOps into six key principles, which can be approached in any order:
- Teams need to collaborate: Gather buy-in from engineering, finance, and other disciplines
- A centralized team drives FinOps: Establish a team to govern cloud costs, purchase committed use discounts and reserved instances, and other discounts
- Decisions are driven by business value of the cloud: Teams benchmark costs against business performance
- Everyone takes ownership of their cloud usage: Each team should manage spend and drive accountability
- FinOps reports should be accessible and timely: Continuous reporting, monitoring and automation using cloud management tools gives stakeholders timely access to cloud cost data
- Take advantage of the variable cost model of the cloud: FinOps practitioners should compare pricing models to determine what cloud
Bringing FinOps to your Azure cloud management can be a valuable method of lowering costs and promoting accountability throughout your organization. Ask yourself which stakeholders need to be involved as you work to lower Azure spend and optimize your cloud usage.
12. Lower Azure spend with a cloud management platform
Native tools can tell you some of the story around your cloud costs. A cloud management platform can provide additional analytics and insights for complete cloud governance and increased visibility into your Azure environment.
CloudCheckr can recommend reserved VM instance purchases, find idle or unused resources, right size VMs, and set daily and monthly budget alerts to stay on top of your budget. The customizable and sharable reports and dashboards within CloudCheckr play an integral role in driving FinOps best practices by making cloud spend data visible and accessible to all key stakeholders.