Microsoft Azure Costs

The realization that Microsoft Azure costs can get out of control usually precedes the third stage of “cloud awareness”. Cloud awareness is a term used to track the development of a business in its cloud computing journey – a journey that usually commences with the adoption of cloud computing services to take advantage of the cost of Azure (Stage 1), followed by an expanded use of Azure (Stage 2).

By Stage 3, the priority is cost optimization. Many businesses find they are using more resources than they originally budgeted for, making the cost of Azure uneconomic compared to deploying VMs in-house. At this stage, businesses have three options – instruct developers to manually turn off non-production VMs when they are not required, reassign development teams to write scheduling scripts for their non-production VMs, or control Microsoft Azure costs with scheduling software.

Issues with Hands-On Options to Reduce the Cost of Azure

Instructing developers to turn off non-production VMs and reassigning development teams to write scheduling scripts are not necessarily effective solutions. If developers turn off their VMs from within each VM – rather than from the administration portal – the platform will reserve compute resources for them and continue charging for them, eliminating any reduction in the cost of Azure. There is also the likely situation that teams will forget to turn off their development, staging and testing VMs and continue running up Microsoft Azure costs.

Reassigning development teams to write scheduling scripts for their non-production VMs will satisfy those with the mindset “we can build, so why buy” but, when the sums are added up, the cost of writing and maintaining the scripts could come to more than the amount saved. Furthermore, reassigning development teams will delay the delivery of other projects without delivering the other benefits offered by Microsoft Azure scheduling software.

The Best Option to Control Microsoft Azure Costs

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The best option to control Microsoft Azure costs is scheduling software. Scheduling software “parks” non-production VMs when they are not required using a simple scheduling process. The software also has an intuitive UI that gives system administrators a single-view dashboard view over all a business´s Azure accounts in order to identify and reassign stale VMs, improve governance and increase accountability.

The process for reducing Microsoft Azure costs starts with a system administrator connecting with their Microsoft account via the scheduling software. The administrator creates permission tiers for each team and assigns their VMs accordingly. When team members subsequently log in, they can see just their assigned VMs and recommendations about which are suitable for parking based on the names and tags assigned to them.

Team members have the choice of selecting a pre-configured parking schedule (for example, “off” between 8:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. and during weekends) or creating their own parking schedule. Development, staging and testing VMs can be assigned the same parking schedule, different parking schedules according to individual automated policies created in the platform, or unique schedules for each VM depending when each will be required. The entire scheduling process takes only a few minutes, and can be changed as necessary.

Once the schedules are confirmed, the amount that will be saved by parking the non-production VMs over the next thirty days is displayed on the UI. The UI also displays by how much the cost of Azure has been reduced once the schedules are operational. These figures can be viewed and downloaded by system administrators – by team and/or by credential – to improve governance of the business´s Azure accounts and increase accountability.

In order to optimize Microsoft Azure costs to the maximum, parking schedules can be created to permanently park non-production VMs. When access to the VMs is required, the schedule can be “snoozed” to bring the VMs out of their parked status. Safeguards exist to ensure the VMs return to their permanently parked state after a period of non-activity in case developers forget to manually reactivate the schedule when they have finished accessing their VMs.

Further Benefits of Microsoft Azure Scheduling Software

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By using scheduling software to park non-production VMs, the reduction in Microsoft Azure costs can be significant. Using the pre-configured parking schedule given above as an example, a business will save 64% on the cost of deploying development, staging and testing VMs on the Azure platform. However, there are further benefits of Microsoft Azure scheduling software that will indirectly save on the cost of Azure.

By being able identify and reassign stale VMs, businesses will not be paying for VMs they are not using. Higher levels of governance and accountability will create more productive development teams who will complete projects more quickly. Network security teams will not have monitor VMs while they are parked or run virus scans, as parked VMs are inaccessible. These benefits would not all be available with manual scheduling or scheduling scripts.

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