According to the Azure feedback portal, native Azure cost optimization tools have limitations that can impact their effectiveness at optimizing costs in the Azure Cloud. In order to fully optimize Azure costs, it may be necessary to consider an alternative to the Azure-provided cost optimization tools.
The Azure feedback portal gives you the opportunity to express what you like and what you don’t like about the Azure services you use, and make suggestions about how you would like to see them improved. Most contributions are acknowledged by an Azure representative, and tagged to indicate what consideration Microsoft is giving to them (i.e. “Started”, “Planned”, “Under Review”, “Require More Feedback”, etc.).
The threads relating to Azure cost optimization tools make particularly interesting reading if you use services such as Azure Cost Management and Azure Advisor because they expose several shortcomings in the optimization tools.For example, one commentator states the rightsizing capability only recommends shutting down an underutilized VM rather than changing the size based on historical utilization.
Other complaints include a lack of granularity and customization, poor Reserved VM Instance management, and an inability to identify unattached and unused resources. These issues can result in native Azure cost optimization tools failing to fully optimize Azure environments.You may be able to overcome shortcomings in granularity, customization, and Reserved VM Instance management, it is difficult to optimize Azure costs if you can´t see unattached and unused resources.
These shortcomings are not unique to Azure cost optimization tools
Last year we published a comparison of “Cost Optimization Management AWS vs Azure” and found similar shortcomings in AWS’ cost optimization tools. We also published a blog explaining “Why it Can be Harder to Achieve a Google Cloud Cost Reduction” despite the option existing to customize VM sizes. In both cases the conclusion was that, due to a lack of visibility, it is impossible to fully optimize any cloud environment using native tools supplied by Cloud Service Providers.
There are solutions to overcome a lack of visibility. For example, you can deploy agents alongside some resources on Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud, and some of these agents are very good because they work across hybrid and multi-cloud environments. However, the agents don’t integrate with the providers’ cost optimization tools, and whereas they will provide a full set of utilization metrics, you still have to manually search for unattached and unused resources.
Alternatives to native Azure cost optimization tools
Microsoft does take on board many of the suggestions relating to Azure cost optimization tools; but, because of the huge range of products and services available in the Azure Cloud, the company can’t fix every shortcoming at once. It could take years for Microsoft to provide visibility into unattached and unused resources—during which time businesses might continue to pay for resources they are not using. For this reason, it may be worth considering an alternative to native Azure cost optimization tools.
Although there is an abundance of tools claiming to be Azure cost optimization solutions, many of them share the same shortcomings as native Azure cost optimization tools (i.e. they lack customization or base their recommendations on Azure Advisor recommendations). It is also the case some are Azure-exclusive solutions because they cannot provide total visibility across hybrid or multi-cloud environments, even then, few are capable of managing Azure Reserved VM Instances.