Many companies move to the Cloud to lower costs and offload the management of their IT infrastructure. Once you create resources in the Cloud, there is still more work to do. By considering the list below, you can ensure you are getting the performance you need while keeping your monthly spend in check.
- Hybrid Use Licensing
Hybrid use licensing allow you to use your current Windows Server licenses in the cloud for a reduced rate. This option can be selected when creating a VM or you can convert a VM after it has been created. To use this pricing, you must have Software Assurance for Window Server.
- Virtual Machine Reserved Instances
You can purchase 1- or 3-year reserved instances with a single, up-front payment. This can give you up to a 72% savings vs. pay-as-you-go pricing. If you know you will need a long term virtual machine, this is an easy option to justify. If you add the Microsoft hybrid benefit you can save up to 80% over pay-as-you-go pricing.
- Shut down or scale down resources when not in use
Virtual machines now have an auto-shutdown feature that allows virtual machines to automatically shut down at a certain time according to a schedule. You can also create an automated job that will start them up as well. If you find yourself using this feature quite a bit, investigate Azure DevTest Labs which was made for this purpose.App services will always accumulate cost even if they are stopped. One option is to put them on the “Free” app service plan when they won’t be in use. This only works when you aren’t using the standard or premium features, since the free tier doesn’t support them. Another option is to combine multiple apps into one plan. You are charged per plan, not per app service.
- Region-specific pricing
The same services can have different pricing depending on the region you deploy them in. Typically, you want to have your resources deployed in the region closest to your users, but if you have any flexibility it is worth a look to see if other regions are less expensive for the same services. Check out the Azure calculator to compare services across regions.
- Choose right pricing tier
Many times when physical machines are moved to virtual machines in the cloud, the same specs are used and the workload on the VM is never looked at. You may have a workload that could run perfectly fine with a smaller CPU or half the memory that you have allocated. It is important to choose a good starting size and then keep an eye on it for a few weeks. When buying physical machines, you are typically choosing specs based on the highest workload you will encounter. When creating a virtual machine in the cloud you want to create a VM with a size that will work most of the time and then scale as needed to meet drastic changes in the workload.
- Upgrade compute instances
Microsoft is constantly updating their hardware offerings for compute instances. Keep an eye out for new compute sizes that have the same performance, but a lower price. When new sizes are introduced there may also be a promotional pricing attached. Just make sure to reevaluate the pricing when the promotion ends.
- B-Series virtual machines
If you have virtual machines that typically have low CPU usage, but need the ability to burst occasionally, a B-series VM can be a cost-effective solution. These VMs will accumulate credits when running at a low CPU usage and can use these credits when a burst of CPU usage is needed. These servers can save quite a bit of money for those workload types.
- Licensing for dev/test environments
Most production systems need to have separate environments for testing, development, staging, etc. If you are an MSDN subscriber or a Microsoft Partner, you can use the included licenses for these non-production environments. If you do not have either of these, you can still buy a separate Azure subscription using Dev/Test pricing and put all your non-production resources here. Make sure to only have these environments up and running when they will be used.
- Monitoring and auditing
This is important to keep your monthly costs under control. Even if you have the compute instances sized properly, there may be other factors that can inflate your monthly spend. If you have resource-intensive processes or things like inefficient SQL queries, they can accumulate more reads and writes which will contribute to your monthly bill. By setting up thresholds on certain resources, you can be notified when resource usage goes out of the expected range. This can help troubleshoot issues with your environment and help you plan for scaling when needed.
- Move to Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Some workloads that run on Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), like virtual machines, are good candidates for PaaS. This can give you big cost savings since you aren’t paying for the overhead of an entire virtual machine and licensing. This also saves quite a bit of IT overhead since you don’t have to worry about patching the operating system. It also typically gives you other advanced features that would be much more difficult and expensive to implement on your own using virtual machines.
If you are making a move to Azure or just want to optimize your existing environment, consider looping in a migration partner like alligatortek. We are a Microsoft Partner with deep expertise in Azure. Whether you are creating an environment from scratch or migrating your existing data center, we have the tools and knowledge to ensure your cloud environment has the optimal setup for the workloads you will be running. Our team designs Cloud environments to scale with your business while balancing your needs, requirements, and budget.
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