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How to Optimize Your Azure Costs

There are continuous challenges in the search for new ways to increase efficiency in the use of IT resources. The new year brings with it, new budgets and unpredictable circumstances. But it doesn't have to be so hard to control costs in the never ending race of innovation when it comes to the cloud. The Azure cloud has a workload team for each cloud application that was built and along with these teams or departments, there is built-in cost management.

Microsoft created a framework with a set of guided tenets to help your team design, build, deploy, and manage successful cloud workloads. This framework, called the Microsoft Azure Well-Architected Framework has five key pillars: security, reliability, performance efficiency, operational excellence, and cost optimization.

For workload cost optimization, the Azure Well-Architected Framework offers comprehensive guidance for cost optimization across four stages: design, provision, monitor, and optimize. We will go over these four stages in this post. The first half of these stages, Design and Provision, generally apply to new workloads that you’re planning to develop. The second half, Monitor and Optimize, primarily contain guidance  toward workloads you’ve already deployed and are running in the cloud.


Design

Design is the very first stage and it covers the initial planning of your workload’s architecture and cost model, including(but not limited to):

• Capturing clear requirements.
• Estimating initial costs.
• Understanding policies and compliance of the organization.

Provision

Next is the Provision stage, where you select and deploy the resources for your workload. There can be many variables that impact costs at this stage, like the services used and the regions you choose.

Monitor

After provisions we go into the Monitor stage. This is where we keep a close watch on the current workload that was deployed, how its being consumed, and overall expenditure.
This usually includes the following activities:

  • Creating expense reports based on tags.
  • Cost reviews with each workload team.
  • Setup and review of usage alerts, e.g. when a specified spending limit has been reached or there is an anomaly in costs.

Optimize

The last stage is Optimize. This is where your workload will be adjusted to make it more efficient. While you might be hesitant to revisit the architecture of your current workload, it is beneficial to your bottom line. Running an application with the latest updates and security with a cloud-native design will be more reliable and cost efficient.
For example, you might want to:

  • Review your initial architectural design decisions in order to find a more cost-effective way to accomplish your workload objectives.
  • Assess the necessity of your current Azure services. You could try to find out if other elements or types of services, such as PaaS or server-less might offer more benefits while still meeting your workload needs.

If you are interested to know more, Microsoft's Channel 9 has a series of videos about cost optimization, here is the first video:

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