Microsoft Azure and other cloud computing platforms have transformed the way organizations utilize software and IT architecture giving users access to unlimited computing power and storage.  

But while cloud resources are more affordable than in-house built alternatives, many businesses find that their cloud spend is much higher than anticipated. The convenience of Azure’s pay-as-you-go structure actually makes it easier to waste money on resources you don’t really need.  

Think you’re provisioning a Virtual Machine (VM) with the right amount of compute, memory, and storage capacity? It’s likely that other components attached to the VM that are increasing your cloud spend. When you terminate the VM, if you’re unaware of the other components, they continue to accrue costs without your knowledge—until you receive your bill. 

It’s important to be aware of the many different price components that contribute towards a cloud bill.  Below is a list of common sense—and not so common–sense ways to reduce your Azure costs: 

Understand Pricing Plans  

Some companies will qualify for an Azure price reduction through an Enterprise Agreement (EA), through other pre-payment options  such as Azure reserved virtual machine  instances or due to existing software licenses. Switching regions or reshuffling pricing plans can also achieve an Azure price reduction. 

Be aware of overprovisioned instances 

  • Eliminate instances that are no longer being used, such as temporary instances for projects that have ended (dev, test, demo, training, experiments). 
  • Downsize instances that have low utilization of CPU or memory or switch them to a lower cost instance family. 
  • Schedule instances (such as development) that are only used part of the time to shut down during evenings or weekends. 
  • Switch instances from older instance families to the newer, lower-cost replacement families.
  • Move instances that are running in higher-cost regions to run in nearby lower-cost regions 

Dig deep into unused storage 

  • Delete storage volumes that are no longer attached to instances. 
  • Remove snapshots that are beyond your snapshot retention policy. 
  • Downgrade storage that has been provisioned as SSD but could be HDD, or storage that is provisioned as a higher class (hot, warm, cool, cold) than is needed. 
  • Remove services that have been left running but are no longer being used. 
  • Decommission accounts where services have been left running but the accounts are no longer being used. 

Beware of Cloud Computing Management Software 

Microsoft has now included a tool in the Azure administration portal that enables system administrators to create custom dashboards. From these dashboards, administrators can monitor, manage and assess the performance of VMs deployed on the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform. But while useful for administrators, it does not provide the option of automatically scheduling on/off times for non-production resources and therefore fails to reduce Azure costs.  

In addition, Microsoft Azure has released a  Start/Stop VM solution  in the Azure marketplace in order to provide  Azure VM auto shutdown capabilities. However, the solution is lacking in capability. It allows users to schedule VMs to shut down, but only for a single start/stop time. Each startup or shutdown time requires a new script, which is messy and time consuming. There is no easy way to override schedules – for example, if a VM is needed when it is scheduled to be stopped – and there is no simple user management.  Therefore, most organizations will get more value with less effort using off-the-shelf scheduling software.  

Let Menlo optimize Your Azure VM Costs with Playa 

Playa is Menlo’s Cloud spend management solution is designed to address a customer’s need to track their spend over time on Microsoft Azure Cloud Services while maximizing cloud potential.  

How does PLAYA work? 

PLAYA is an application that runs on Azure VMs and AzureSQL as well as embedded PowerBI. It was created by IT professionals for IT and Accounting/Finance teams to manage and predict spends across Azure resources and subscriptions. The tool is perfect for threshold alerts and internal charge backs. With Playa, you can:

  • Tag various services and set custom email alert thresholds so that they are never in the dark with their cloud spend. 
  • Monitor cloud spend. Track resource usage and manage costs across all your clouds with a single, unified view. Monitoring spend helps analyze and track cloud usage, costs, and trends. 
  • Optimize cloud performance and improve the return on your cloud investment by using continuous cost optimization and industry best practices. Playa detects inefficiencies in your cloud and helps plan provisioning, accelerating your cloud investments. 
  • Access rich operational and financial insights to make informed decisions. 
  • Boost your confidence for future cloud investments. 
  • Use the various clickable filters to drill down into your various spending categories. 
  • Use predictive forecasts to see where your spend will be. 

We built PLAYA to help businesses take control of their cloud spend with confidence. 

Meaningful Insights 

Playa turns complex Azure billing data into rich operational and financial insights. 

Improved ROI 

Get results from the moment you connect our tool to your tenant. 

Free for many 

The full-featured app is totally free for the first 3 months. 

Talk to a Playa expert today!

Menlo Technologies is a global computer technology services company specializing in cloud integration, data analytics, and mobile technology. We’ve built strategic partnerships with top-tier pioneers in the tech industry including MicrosoftDell Boomi, and Looker. Our global delivery model for IT solutions provides a framework for exceeding customer expectations in all dimensions – quantity, time and cost.