Companies move their data and applications to the cloud for a number of reasons but reducing costs is often seen as the most important one. There is the assumption that moving away from on premises hardware will immediately bring significant financial savings as well as greater business flexibility but in some circumstances this is not always the case.
At igroup we work with companies around the UK who have moved to an Azure solution but are faced with spiralling costs. They find that costs are much higher than expected and have very little visibility of why.
The team at igroup have outlined seven steps Azure users can take to keep their monthly Azure costs down.
It seems an obvious thing to suggest but many companies fail to plan their Azure environment either at the start or as it grows. As part of a clear cloud strategy, we recommend that businesses put together a plan and continually review it.
This means that they can identify requirements before they are needed and look at reallocating existing resources without having to bring in new ones which helps to reduce their monthly Azure bill.
Typical areas to consider in the plan would include:
- Number of users
- Availability requirements
- Storage requirements
- Future business plans – new products or services
Identify unused resources
As companies become more and more used to operating in the cloud, it becomes easier to buy new resources. This means that they keep adding more VMs, compute power or data storage without understanding and analysing what already is being used.
With Azure it is easy to turn on and off resources as they are needed rather than having them available “just in case”. At igroup we see many instances of companies that can save hundreds or even thousands on their monthly bills if they take advantage of the pay as you use nature of Azure.
Select the right Virtual Machines
In house teams will often spin up new virtual machines that are substantially more powerful than necessary. This over provisioning can lead to higher costs which can get out of hand.
It is important to monitor and report on CPU, memory and disk utilisation to check that the right virtual machine has been spun up. Available through Microsoft are a complete range of virtual machines depending on the business requirements and the tasks they will perform. For non-mission critical applications it may be worth opting for a shared machine which is significantly cheaper than a dedicated VM and can help reduce your Azure invoices.
Delete unused data and resources
The more storage you use the higher your Azure invoice. In order to reduce this you should delete old backups that are no longer needed as well as unused disks. These unused disks are generally from older virtual machines that have been created and when they are deleted the storage disk is not. This will increase your monthly Azure costs if left unchecked.
Virtual Machine Scheduling
Azure will bill for a VM as long as it is running. Inversely, if a VM is in a stopped state, there is no charge associated with it which will greatly reduce your costs. For VMs that are running 24/7 Microsoft will bill for every hour in the month they are running and this can be a considerable cost.
Although some VMs may need to be available out of hours, it is worth stopping those that aren’t or at least reducing capacity. For example shutting down half of your virtual machines over a weekend or after 6 pm will greatly reduce a monthly Azure bill.
If you are unsure of the best way to approach the scheduling of machines then it is best talking to an expert who can advise you on the best way to reduce costs as well as build in dynamic starting and stopping of machines in your environment.
Use the tools available to monitor performance and usage
When they built Azure, Microsoft included a number of tools which help users monitor and analyse their usage, performance and costs.
These tools, open to every customer of Azure, mean that you can quickly see where costs are and use the tools to plan your requirements and shut down or scale back unused resources.
In addition, there are a number of third party applications that can also help you control costs, many of which will be used by Azure support partners to help you keep down your monthly invoice.
Buy through a partner
Probably one of the most efficient ways of managing your costs is buying Azure through a managed services partner such as igroup. As a partner they have access not only to new tools and functions before they become available but also a completely different pricing model.
Working with a MSP will not only help you control usage costs but is also cheaper than buying directly from Microsoft.
There are a number of ways in which you can reduce your monthly Azure bill, from more effective monitoring through to scheduling virtual machines. It is important to remember that cost saving exercises should be continuous and if you are not sure about how to get the highest savings without affecting performance, talk to a managed services partner such as igroup.
For more information on how we can support your business and your Azure environment call us today to speak to an expert.