4 ways to save money in Azure

10 december 2018

Summary: When moving from on-premises to Azure, the biggest pitfall I see with customers is the way they move to Azure. In Azure you need to think differently about all tasks that you want to accomplish. This blog post shows 4 ways to save money in Azure.

Azure Hybrid Benefit
Reserved Instances
Azure Cost Management
Rethink architecture

Azure Hybrid Benefit - Bring your own license (BYOL)

Any organization that has Software assurance can make use of Azure Hybrid Benefit. It allows you to use your on-premises Windows Server or SQL Server license for your Azure virtual machines. Let's see how we can achieve this:

New virtual machines

When deploying a new virtual machine, under "Basics", it gives you the option to bring your own license. Here's a screenshot:

Azure Hybrid Benefit

However, this only allows you to take your own Windows Server license. If you want to bring your own SQL license, you have to create an image that includes {byol} in the SKU name. When you click "Create VM from Azure Marketplace", search for: "{byol}" to see the available options.

BYOL SQL Server images

Existing virtual machines

In some cases, you might already have created VMs in Azure which you want to switch from Pay-as-you-go to Bring your own license. In this case, you can change this from the Virtual Machine "Configuration".

For SQL Server, changing from Pay as you go to Bring your own license requires you to use PowerShell. The exact process for changing an existing VM is described here: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/azure-hybrid-benefit-for-sql-server-on-azure-virtual-machines/.

Reserved Instances

Most organizations have a number of virtual  machines running in Azure. The great thing about Azure is that it is scalable and you only pay for what you use. However, in most scenarios it is very useful to Reserve capacity within Azure. By using Reserved Instances, you can save up to 72% in Azure computing power. You do this by paying for capacity up front for either 1 or 3 years.

The good thing about this is that you specify only the VM type, not a specific VM! This makes it exchangeable between VMs!

Here's an example of Azure Reserved Instances savings:

Azure Reserved Instances

This means with just a single year reservation, you can save 36%. If you decide to reserve an instance for 3 years, you save 56%.

Azure Cost Management

At Ignite 2018, Microsoft announced the public preview of Azure Cost Management. Azure Cost Management allows you to get visibility into costs in Azure from a single dashboard.

With Azure Cost Management you gain visibility in the money spent in Azure. By leveraging budgets, tags, management groups and policies you can hold people accountable. These steps are vital to help reduce the total cost in Azure. I would urge anyone to view the video which explains it all in great detail: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xm2olT2xXhQ.

Rethink architecture

I saved the most important one for last. If you really want to save money in Azure, you have to change your mindset on architecting applications in Azure. In the old days, when starting out a project everyone would sit together and decide what to do with this new application for the next 3 years. This required hardware which had to bought upfront, and had to last at least 3 years (including peak times). This means you have an architecture designed for peak times, but it is running at all times.

With Azure, this requires another way of thinking. Instead of moving the workload to Azure using the same requirements, try looking at the business case again. I like to use below image to help organizations make the right choice.

Every time you choose IaaS over PaaS or Saas, you have more responsibility. You want to manage the application, but do you really want to manage network controls, infrastructure and physical security for every application you deploy?

The next project you start, try checking if you can fit all or part of your requirement in a SaaS or PaaS solution before going all in and deploy infrastructure in Azure.

Hopefully, this blog post helps you gain insight in how to spend money in Azure more wisely!

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