The cost of a cloud based storage solution like Microsoft Azure is based on usage, so whether you’ve already migrated to Azure, have a plan in place or you’re simply considering the cost implications, we’ve come up with 13 practical tips to help save you money.
1.Use the correct purchasing option
Either: a. Direct from Microsoft
You can use a Pay-as-you-go subscription or, if you are a large organisation, you can look at an Enterprise Agreement or a Product and Services Agreement.
Or: b. Use a Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP)
Using a CSP often has many added benefits over dealing directly with Microsoft, and can lead to a better overall service with improved costs.
2. Use trial licenses to get you started
There are quite a few services such as Azure Active Directory Premuim P2 that can start off as a limited time trial. This may save you at least a months worth of licensing for that product so it’s worth looking at whether a trial is offered before committing to a purchase. Trials can be viewed in the Microsoft 365 Admin portal under Billing > Purchase Services.
3. Correctly size Virtual Machines (VMs)
This might seem quite obvious but make sure that you size VMs accurately when created to make big savings from the outset. It’s easy to rack up costs that quickly get out of control so monitor their usage closely to allow you to scale them down if possible.
4. Shutdown your VM when possible
Make sure you use the auto-shutdown feature. If a VM is not required at particular times or is only required on-demand, then you can save costs by shutting it down. Schedule this through the Auto-shutdown area on the portal, it’s a good way to make sure you are not creating unnecessary spend. This can also be achieved using DevTest Labs or Automation.
5. Use Automation
Automation in Azure can be used to monitor, automatically scale-up or down your VM, and shut it down based on criteria such as working hours or workload. The possibilities are infinite.
6. Consider using spot VMs when creating a virtual machine
Using Spot VMs allows you to take advantage of Azure’s unused capacity at a significant cost saving.
7. Take advantage of the Azure free account for testing and training
The Azure free account includes a limited quantity of free services for 12 months. After 12 months you have the option to move to a pay-as-you-go subscription, remember that if you decide not to move your resources will be disabled.
8. Structure your Azure resources and delete the ones you don’t need
Ensure you set out your resources in Azure in a common way and use tags so that you can easily manage and report on their use and purpose. When it comes to removing resources or reporting on usage this structure becomes invaluable and can result in big cost savings.
9. Use Azure Reserved Instances or Capacity
Azure Reserved Instances and Reserved Capacity are options for advance purchase of resources for one or three years in a specified region. The commitment is made up front, and in return you get up to 72% price savings compared to pay-as-you-go pricing. Now it is possible to pay for reservations on a monthly basis but be aware that the cost is higher the shorter the reserved term.
10. Azure Hybrid benefit
If you have an active Software Assurance or Windows Server Subscription you can take advantage of the Azure Hybrid benefit to ensure your transition to the cloud is as cost effective as possible.
11. Non-profit organisations
Microsoft offers donated and discounted products for eligible non-profit organizations, including cloud services like Office 365, Azure, Dynamics 365 and more.
You can also take advantage of training events to help make better use of technology and learn how technology can deepen the impact on your organization. Your service provider should be able to help you understand what is available to you as this varies from country to country.
12. License Mobility: Bring-Your-Own-License (BYOL)
License Mobility is not currently available to CSP partners and is for Enterprise Agreements only. With License Mobility you can deploy eligible applications on Azure without purchasing new licenses through Software Assurance. There are other benefits that are worth exploring such as a free passive secondary replica for SQL server.
13. Monitor your Azure costs
In order to avoid paying for resources you no longer use or even resources you forgot you had, it is important to monitor and review your Azure resources and related costs on a regular basis. Azure Cost Management is a useful tool to analyse your costs but is only available to Enterprise Agreement customers although it will be available to other customers in the future. You can also use Cloudyn which provides the base for Azure Cost Management although the majority of the useful features are a paid for service. If you use a CSP they may be able to provide better options for you to manage the cost of your Azure resources.
Need some advice?
If you can implement some or all of these tips you should find you start to make some significant savings. The right service provider will advise you on the correct purchasing option, help you manage your subscriptions, and help with your provisioning into Azure, deployment and usage/cost management. If you’d like some advice please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we can talk things through with you.