Can You Tick All the Boxes On An Azure Cost Efficiency Checklist?

CloudHealth Tech Staff
Oct. 18, 2019
6 minute read

Our Azure cost efficiency checklist goes beyond the standard cost-reducing measures of right-sizing, scheduling, and purchasing Reserved VM Instances, and delves deeper into hidden Azure costs some businesses may be unaware of. Eliminating these costs can make a significant contribution to maximizing cost efficiency.

Having a cost efficient cloud is the number one objective for most businesses, yet few fully achieve it - despite an increasing number of tools to help optimize costs. A simple example of this is rightsizing VMs. Most businesses know to monitor utilization to ensure VMs are not over-provisioned, and Microsoft´s Azure Advisor even makes recommendations when VMs are under or over-provisioned.

What businesses aren´t always aware of is that it is also possible to “rightsize” disk storage and SQL databases by downgrading these resources from default premium ones to standard ones. Of course, there are circumstances in which a premium service is necessary, but in most use cases, premium disk storage and SQL database services are a waste of money.

Most Businesses have Got to Grips with Scheduling and Reserved VM Instances

When it comes to compiling an Azure cost efficiency checklist, it´s pretty much a waste of time to include scheduling on/off times for non-production resources and purchasing Reserved VM Instances to take advantage of committed use discounts as most businesses have got to grips with these cost efficiency measures - or almost got to grips with them.

Scheduling on/off times for non-production instances on a standard 8.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. Monday to Friday schedule saves around 65 percent on the cost of developing, testing, staging, and QA; but it is possible to shave another 10 percent or more from these costs by scheduling on/off times based on utilization metrics. It´s something worth looking into if you deploy a lot of non-production resources.

Similarly, since Azure automatically applies the reservation discount for Reserved VM Instances to all VMs that match the attributes and quantity of the reservation, it has become a lot simpler to manage reservations. Nonetheless, businesses still need to keep a watchful eye on lifecycle management and whether they need more or less reservations as their presence in the cloud expands or contracts.

So, What´s On Our Azure Cost Efficiency Checklist?

Our Azure cost efficiency checklist consists of items often referred to as hidden costs. They are not necessarily hidden inasmuch as Azure keeps the costs a secret. It´s more likely the case the resources responsible for driving the costs are not so easy to identify, or - as with premium disk storage - your business is paying more than it needs to for Azure Cloud services.

Have You Cleared Out Any Unattached Disk Storage

When you launch a VM, disk storage is usually attached to the VM. When you terminate the VM, the disk storage may remain active and you´ll continue paying for it even though you are not using it. Any disk storage that´s been unattached for more than (say) two weeks should be terminated.

Have You Identified and Terminated Obsolete Snapshots?

Obsolete snapshots are those which are no longer required because more recent snapshots have the data required in the event of an outage. Azure doesn´t have a setting that automatically deletes obsolete snapshots, so you´ll have to find them manually or continue paying for them.

Have You Found Any Zombies Hiding in Your Inventory?

The term “zombie assets” is often used to describe abandoned VMs or components hiding in your inventory from VMs that failed to launch. It´s also worth keeping an eye out for unattached IP addresses and idle load balancers which you may be paying for even though you are not using them.

Have You Upgraded Older Generation VMs?

If your business has only recently migrated to the cloud, it is unlikely you will find any older generation VMs running on Azure Classic, but more mature businesses will want to search out any older generation VMs and upgrade them to the more cost-efficient Azure Resource Manager (ARM) VMs.

Is Infrequently Accessed Data Where it Should Be?

Microsoft offers a combination of data storage options depending on your desired level of redundancy and how often the data is accessed. If you find you have infrequently accessed data stored in a “Hot” storage volume, it´s good business sense to move it to a less expensive and more cost efficient option.

It´s Not a Big Azure Cost Efficiency Checklist, but… 

There may only be five items on our Azure cost efficiency checklist but, if you are unable to tick all the boxes, your business is still wasting money in the Azure Cloud and failing to achieve full cost efficiency. Once you have addressed each of the issues, making sure they don´t reoccur should be a priority - but it is one that can often be time-consuming without the right tools to help you.

To avoid spending time looking for issues that might be affecting your business´s cost efficiency in the Azure cloud, speak with us about CloudHealth´s policy-driven automation capabilities. 

If you would like to see how these capabilities work before committing to a free trial, you are invited to contact us and request a free demo of CloudHealth in action. This will give you the opportunity to ask questions relevant to your business´s requirements and receive advice that could help you maximize the cost-saving opportunities in order to achieve full cost efficiency.