Maximising Your Cloud Potential With Azure Cost Management

Managing cloud costs is a challenge for all businesses. However, on the flip side, one of the main motivations for using cloud services is the cost optimisation potential. Every day, your team of developers, architects and operators are making changes to code that affect how your business uses the cloud. The question, however, is whether you know how to track those costs. 

A short time ago, there used to be no way for businesses to view live expenses and usage data within Azure. Unfortunately, this often led to bill shock as resources were unknowingly overused due to a lack of management or monitoring capabilities. Thankfully, that has all changed. Azure Cost Management was created to provide a native solution for managing subscriptions using in-product tools, controlling costs and optimising the efficiency of your services. 

What is Azure Cost Management?

Enterprise customers, as well as pay-as-you-go customers, now have full access to Azure Cost Management. The product is essentially a free set of tools that enable customers to view, analyse, manage and optimise usage and costs within Azure. The solutions offer some key capabilities to help avoid overspending. Firstly, a cost analysis feature enables users to view costs at varying levels, based on teams or environments, for example, and to use historical data to estimate future costs against budgets. With regard to budgets, alerts can be used when thresholds are met, and caps can be put on spending. Ultimately, the solution creates a lot more visibility and accountability. 

However, more than just a tool to analyse and review spend, Azure Cost Management also provides recommendations for best practice. Suggestions will help your business to improve efficiency by scheduling or removing underutilised resources. 

The Benefits of Azure Cloud Cost Management

Having a tool that is embedded within Azure dashboards enables you to review spend, optimise usage and be disciplined with regards to costs. In fact, a study commissioned for Forrester Consulting showed that Azure Cost Management and Billing could lead to a 20 to 34% reduction in Azure spend. However, there are many benefits of Azure Cost Management, including:

  • Monitor spend – to control costs, you need to understand where they have come from. With Azure Cost Management, you have full visibility into the spectrum of costs across your organisation so you can understand spending patterns. With access to cost analytics with rich insights, you are empowered to make informed decisions. 
  • Increase accountability – by being able to inform others about their spending, you can proactively monitor and manage costs. This includes implementing governance policies, creating alerts and forecasting future spend to ensure everything remains firmly within your limits. 
  • Optimise efficiency – with the tools at your fingertips to analyse your spend, you are able to maximise your investment. Azure Cost Management includes recommendations and  industry best practices, so you can continually address challenges and optimise the efficiency of your Azure services. 

Tools to Help You Manage Your Azure Cloud Costs

Azure Cost Management provides a dashboard view of costs each month, but also some great analysis tools which can be accessed from the Azure Portal. Data can be saved as CSV files to be used in spreadsheets or APIs can be used to combine the tools with other software analysis programs. There are several tools that are worth noting, such as those to help you set budgets, review spend and forecast future costs. Some of the most important tools include:

  • Azure Price Calculator – this tool does what it says on the tin, helping you estimate the cost of Azure services. All you have to do is find the service or resource in question, choose the details, and the calculator will break down the costs depending on various factors. By using the calculator, you can have an estimate of what an Azure package will cost before you even start a project. 
  • Azure Cost Analysis – the cost analysis tool helps you delve into the finer details of your Azure spend. You can split costs across different groups and resources, filtering based on scope, time or groups, so you have a true picture of what any particular service is currently costing you. When it comes to cloud costs, visibility is everything, which makes this a fundamental tool. And, once you know how you’re spending, you can then work to cut down those costs. 
  • Azure Cost Alerts – while the analysis tool is an incredible asset, it’s understandable that you won’t always have time to be reviewing dashboards and working out costs. This is where cost alerts come into play. The alerts can notify you based on budgets, credit limits and departmental quotas. When thresholds or specific conditions are met, specified recipients are notified so further spending can be reviewed in a timely manner.
  • Azure Budgets – every project you work on, or service you work with, will have an allocated budget. With Azure Budgets, you can span this across your entire subscription. The tool lets you stay on track, notifying you before you overspend within a set  time frame and aligning your costs against your targets. 
  • Azure Recommendations – while the other tools are great assets in their own rights, you don’t have to go it alone. The advisor tool analyses your configurations and provides personalised recommendations on how you can optimise resources and maximise return on investment. You can control who can view the recommendations within the Azure Portal and make decisions about cutting costs and controlling spend. 

Azure Cloud Cost Management for Your Business

No one wants to get a bill that is above and beyond what is expected, and that should be no different for your Azure cloud costs. However, it’s easy to sign up to new infrastructure and for costs to spiral out of control. This is why visibility is so important. Fortunately, with Azure Cost management, overspending and inflated invoices should be a thing of the past. The solution puts the power in your hands to analyse costs, optimise usage and forecast future spend. What’s even better is that azure Cost Management is completely free. With no hidden costs, there is no reason at all to not use the tools at your disposal, manage your costs and maximise your business’s potential. 

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About the author

Michael Ridland is the Co-CEO and Founder of Xam Consulting.

Design-led problem solving delivering digital solutions.

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