Three Secrets Guaranteed to Lower Your Azure Costs

By Brad Porter on August 16, 2021

Have you ever been afraid to open your monthly Azure bill? As organizations migrate their business-critical workloads to Azure, it is not uncommon for their cloud spend to be much higher than projected. To make matters worse, it is estimated that 35% of all cloud computing spend is wasted on unnecessary or idle infrastructure.* The good news is that if your Azure bill is growing like a weed, you can follow this simple three-part approach to regain control by optimizing your Azure costs:

1. Identify who is in charge of your Azure spend

I find that when solving any problem, it is often best to focus first on the people.

  • Do you have clear departmental ownership of Azure resources?
  • Is someone ultimately accountable for each dollar spent in the cloud?

Clear expectations must be set, and managers must be given the responsibility and accountability for their departmental Azure spend. This change is the catalyst to minimizing wasteful and unexpected cloud spend. Failure to start with the human aspect of cloud spend will mean that any improvements made today will quickly be undone with new cloud sprawl.

2. Optimize your processes for efficiency with Azure Advisors

Azure is an amazing toolbox, and when used correctly, can deliver rapid ROI and accelerate improvements into your organization. Once you have clear lines of accountability and someone with their hand on the rudder, the next step is to enact common sense processes to keep your employees agile and productive. When it comes to tackling wasteful Azure spend, it may be difficult to know where to start, so creating a methodology for identifying the highest ROI targets will ensure that your team is maximizing their time investment. The Azure Advisors feature of the Cost Management App in the Azure portal is quite robust and can help point you to those high ROI targets.

3. Implement these simple technology changes to fast-track your Azure savings

Once you’ve taken a strategic approach to your Azure deployment, add these quick wins that are sure to please your organization’s pocketbook:

  • Remove obsolete or unused resources. With 35% of all cloud spend wasted, this is likely an area that can show fast ROI for lowing Azure costs. Resources that are not tied to a production workload should be reviewed by the team and quickly decommissioned if no one claims them.
  • Ensure resources are sized appropriately. Often when provisioning a resource in Azure, the default settings are overkill. Instead, consider resizing your dedicated resources based on historical usage patterns. When possible, it is even more effective to enable auto-scaling on resources that support it. This will help you lower your Azure costs while ensuring that burstable usage will not create a service disruption.
  • Take advantage of Azure VM Reservations. If you have workloads that you are confident will be running for one to three years, you can reserve resources in advance with Azure Virtual Machine (VM) Reservations and lock in excellent savings over time. Previously, Azure VM Reservations required full upfront payment, which was prohibitive for many. But as of 2019, VM Reservations can be paid monthly. Our clients typically save 50% - 60% off retail prices, and we’ve seen some go as high as 70% or more. Pro Tip: Price check different Azure regions for VM Reservations as these prices can vary up to 16% by region.
  • Consider an Azure Hybrid License. If you are running Windows or SQL workloads, an Azure hybrid license can deliver excellent ROI compared to buying a standard Windows license. When I did the math on this, I was truly stunned. On a 16-core Windows VM in Azure, Microsoft tacks on $537.28 per month for the Windows License. By choosing instead to repurpose existing or procure additional Windows Server Licenses with three years of Software Assurance, you can reach positive ROI in less than three months. For example, if you applied 50 existing 16-core Windows Licenses with Software Assurance to the Azure Hybrid License Benefit, you could expect an annual savings of $356,532.
  • Rethink on-prem workloads. Forklifting your on-prem workloads to the cloud may be the shortest path but might also be the most expensive option with regards to cloud costs. If certain legacy workloads are still expensive after making all the recommended changes, I would recommend reviewing the myriad new deployment options in Azure to see if there is a better way. Serverless has come a long way in the past couple years and is being used across the globe to run mission-critical workloads.

Ready to get going? The KnowledgeLake team can help. The first step is always the hardest, but just think of all the interesting initiatives you could fund with your Azure savings.

I would love to hear about your experiences with Azure cost reduction. Please reach out to me on LinkedIn to continue the discussion!

Brad is the CTO of KnowledgeLake. He is responsible for identifying disruptive technology that can be used to deliver innovative software that clients and partners love. Brad is an industry veteran in designing and building Enterprise Content Management software.

About KnowledgeLake:

KnowledgeLake provides content management solutions that help busy organizations intelligently automate their most important document processes. Since 1999, we've created award-winning, Microsoft-centric solutions that have helped thousands of companies around the world focus on their mission rather than their mission-critical documents.


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