Technologies | January 25, 2024

Reduce Cloud Service Costs using Azure Advisor – the Microsoft Cost Management Tool

Azure Advisor is available for free in the Azure Portal. Read the article and learn how to save and optimize your Azure performance. 

Azure Advisor

When you move to the cloud, it is important to carefully consider the cost of cloud services, VMs, and resources. Without dedicated tools and a FinOps (Financial Operations) approach, such control is impossible. Today we are introducing Microsoft’s native solution, Azure Advisor, which is available for free in the Azure Portal. Read the article and learn how to save and optimize your Azure performance. 

How do you reduce your overall Azure spending? Introduction to Azure Advisor 

Imagine having a private cloud consultant who not only focuses on the areas that need attention but also makes recommendations for improving cloud cost efficiency. That’s what the Azure Advisor service, available in the Azure Portal, does for you. Azure Advisor performs a personalized analysis in terms of the resources you’re using, as well as reliability, performance, and security. Next, the Advisor provides recommendations that you can immediately (though you don’t have to) turn into specific actions. 

Azure Advisor

Microsoft Azure Advisor Recommendations 

Azure Advisor takes advantage of Machine Learning algorithms to recognize underutilized resources and safeguard optimal usage of virtual machines and virtual machine scale sets. The recommended actions include shutting down or resizing the resource. 

Accessing Azure Advisor 

To gain access to the Azure service, log in to the portal, then look for the Advisor item in the navigation menu. You’ll also find it under All Services. They are available to the Owner, Co-author, or Reader of a subscription, resource group, or given resource. 

Types of Azure Advisor Recommendations  

The advantage of the Microsoft native cost management solution is that all recommendations are available in one place and categorized.  

In the Advisor service dashboard, you will find recommendations for your subscriptions. You can customize the filters as you like. Recommendations apply to the following categories: Reliability (formerly High Availability), Security, Performance, Cost, and Operational Excellence. 

Using Azure Advisor 

Microsoft provides training resources. If you haven’t used the tool before, start with the free training: Get Started with Azure Advisor. Now it’s time to see how it works in practice.  

Read also: Azure Cost Management 101. How to optimize cloud costs?

Making the Most of Azure Advisor 

Azure Advisor is a great tool to help you get proactive, personalized recommendations. They will improve your performance, security, and resource utilization, resulting in noticeable savings in the Azure cloud.  

8 proven ways to Optimize Azure Resources – Do More with Less! 

Optimization is part of Microsoft’s awareness campaign: “Do more with less”. Cloud optimization offers tangible savings and sensible deployment of resources in the cloud. With cloud cost management and optimization tools, companies can reduce cloud waste by 20-30 percent.  

1. Identify and shut down all unused resources and check how much you can save. 

2. Find and adjust underutilized resources either by reconfiguring or by joining them.  

3. Take advantage of the Azure Saving Plan by committing to a fixed amount of computing services. This works well for dynamic workloads, allowing you to save up to 65 percent! 

4. Book instances with a prepay pay-as-you-go plan. In return for reserving resources on either an annual or three-month plan, Microsoft offers customers a discount of up to 70 percent. It’s worth checking the provider’s website to see what options are available. 
This approach will work well in many situations – for example, a company with a holiday service has access to cloud resources and services at a fixed, predictable level, and during busy periods (sales peaks) it uses additional resources for increased efficiency in a pay-as-you-go model.

Azure Advisor

5. When utilizing a hybrid cloud, consider taking up the Azure Hybrid Benefit licensing offer to save on costs and update and sustain a flexible hybrid environment. At the same time, you can enhance the efficiency of your business applications.  

6. Configure autoscaling. This is the process of adjusting resources to meet performance demands. When workloads increase, an application may require more resources to perform optimally and meet SLAs. In contrast, when demand declines, excess resources can be removed to lower expenses.  

7. Select the appropriate hosting model. There are many models for hosting applications in the Azure cloud (e.g., development of cloud-optimized applications, lift and shift).  

8. By creating budgets in the Microsoft Azure Portal, you gain insights into spending and monitor costs. This is achieved by configuring alerts when getting closer to the limits set.  

Understanding Azure Advisor Recommendations 

Cost Recommendations 

Do you know which resources have untapped potential and which are redundant? Azure Advisor will help you trace them. Recommendations include potential savings found, analytical capabilities, suggestions for changing your pricing plan, databases, or unused /underutilized Azure Virtual Machines. A full list of recommendations with descriptions can be found on the cloud provider’s website.  

Security Recommendations 

Security recommendations will appear in Microsoft Defender. For greater clarity, they are divided into areas (Apps Services, Computing, Containers, Data, Identity and access, IoT and networking, AI, APIs, and more) and severity (low, medium, and high).  

Performance Recommendations 

Are your applications fast and responsive? With Azure Advisor you can now enhance the speed and improve the performance of your apps, which is crucial in the case of business-critical applications.  

Reliability Recommendations 

Nowadays service continuity is a must, not merely an option. Even a few minutes of service unavailability for critical applications can translate into real monetary losses. If you are approaching the limit of your allocated resources or, for example, your API integrations are out of date or a given service is to be retired, Azure Advisor will let you know. This way your service is up and running.   

Operational Excellence Recommendations 

Recommendations for operational excellence will help you improve process and workflow effectiveness. You’ll gain resource management capabilities and the best implementation options. 

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Utilizing Azure Advisor for Database Management 

Efficient database management is the best way to keep data organized, stored, and retrieved if needed.  Learn how to manage databases smartly and with minimal effort with your personalized cloud consultant. 

Optimizing Azure Database for SQL 

The Azure Advisor for SQL Database employs several database advisors to offer advice on optimizing performance. The service constantly learns and adjusts to your application. 

Utilizing Azure Database for PostgreSQL 

Get recommendations on the cost, performance, and reliability of your database. Such recommendations are made available on the basis of telemetric data – the data from the server is checked twice a day, and the selected recommendations are also based on the performance history. 

Azure Cosmos DB 

Azure Cosmos DB, like other cloud services, is frequently updated. With customized recommendations from Azure Advisor, the database keeps up with new developments for necessary security and for improved performance. 

Azure Synapse Analytics 

Azure Synapse is a comprehensive and advanced data warehousing and analytics solution that enables organizations to gain better insights from their data and drive better business outcomes.  The Advisor identifies outdated tables and statistics and recommends improvements.  

Azure Advisor benefits 

  • Trusted tool – Azure Advisor is a trusted tool that provides practical advice to assist you in maximizing the efficiency of your Microsoft cloud resources and optimizing your Azure deployments.  
  • Native and free of charge – it is Microsoft’s native tool that will allow you to manage not only your Azure environment but also your hybrid cloud. You don’t have to pay to use it. 
  • Specific recommendations – by following Azure Advisor-specific recommendations, companies can optimize their virtual machine usage, right-size their resources, and identify opportunities for cost savings.  

Expert insight 

Marek Dobkowski, Cloud Practice Leader at Inetum  

Azure Advisor is a great and powerful tool that gives you a highly compressed health overview of your Azure ecosystem and provides a number of suggestions regarding optimization of operational excellence, performance, security, cost and other aspects, but… it has one significant drawback: it analyses each configuration or metric independently in isolation and therefore is not able to look at the big picture. Azure Advisor does not have the capabilities to analyze the entire infrastructure architecture including dependencies between components.

Best practices in Azure management – summary

Precedence Research indicates that by 2028, the global cloud computing market will exceed $1 trillion. Azure Advisor allows you to achieve greater results with fewer resources. This does not mean, however, that company cloud expenses must be colossal. By following Azure management best practices, you can cut expenses and enhance the effectiveness of your cloud spending. Azure Advisor helps to improve the security and performance of the cloud infrastructure. This not only saves money but also ensures that the resources are used effectively, leading to better overall performance. 

Expert insight 

Marek Dobkowski, Cloud Practice Leader at Inetum 

The key to the success of comprehensive Azure cost optimization is cooperation with an experienced partner who will help you to make a reliable assessment of your current infrastructure architecture and provide more advanced recommendations regarding cost optimization (including infrastructure architecture changes and software changes). 

To sum up, Azure Advisor is a perfect tool for initial cost optimization and reviewing Azure Advisor recommendations is good starting point for the cost reduction process, but… you should not forget to assess your solutions using expert knowledge, because there is additional hidden potential to reduce the cost of your Azure ecosystem. 

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