With over 200 zettabytes (that’s 200 trillion gigabytes) of data forecast to be stored in the cloud by 2025, cloud-based hosting is big business. This level of cloud usage makes choosing, managing, and optimizing cloud usage an essential part of any IT strategy, especially if you’re using Microsoft Azure.
To help, in this guide, we’ll explore 10 of the best Azure cost management tools in 2023, providing insights into their features, advantages, and potential drawbacks to help you make the best Azure cost management decisions for your business.
What Makes Microsoft Azure the Best Choice?
As we discovered in our recent Azure Cost Management 101 Guide, the Microsoft Azure platform is used by up to 90% of all European enterprises. That’s a big chunk of the market, putting it right up against other competitors such as AWS and Google Cloud as one of the leading cloud computing platforms in the world.
The reason for this is that Azure Cloud has many benefits over its competition. Not only does it have a broader range of functionality, enterprises use Azure because it’s easy to understand, with well-known technologies such as Windows, Active Directory, and Linux sitting at the heart of the Azure service.
Microsoft also leverages a range of Azure advisor partners to make cloud deployment quick and easy for clients, with many able to get on board and start using cloud services in a matter of days. When you also throw in native integration to the broader Windows suite, the world’s most popular user computing service, it’s easy to see why Azure is the cloud platform of choice for many businesses looking to take their IT to the next level.
Also read: Azure cloud glossary
Why Is It Important to Optimize Azure Costs?
While Azure is a highly cost-effective solution, when cloud operates as the backbone of many businesses’ IT capability, strong cloud cost management is essential to optimize budget and drive cost savings.
Alongside direct budget savings, getting a handle on billing helps Azure customers also achieve the following benefits:
- Alongside direct budget savings, getting a handle on billing helps Azure customers also achieve the following benefits:
- Improve their Azure resource utilization
- Gain better financial visibility of their broader Azure budget
- Unlock more accurate cost and demand forecasting
- Helps them manage compliance and regulatory reporting
- Drives cooperation and best practices across the IT team cooperation
- Fosters a culture of continuous improvement or self-improvement.
As we’ll see further in this article, getting this right is a mixture of good cost-analysis techniques, resource discipline, and leveraging the right cloud cost management tool to provide the data and insight you need to get the best management service from Microsoft.
10 Best Azure Cost Management Tools to Optimize Azure Costs
While still a handy resource, the free Azure pricing calculator isn’t the only tool to help Azure customers manage their costs. Whether it’s Azure subscription fees, professional service fees for third-party tools, or specialist Azure resource costs, there’s a range of other costs you also need identify and optimize.
Let’s look at the best tools on the market to help you analyze your cost and usage and bring down your total cost of Azure ownership.
1. Microsoft Cost Management for Azure
Microsoft’s native Cost Management tool for Azure provides a comprehensive suite of features to monitor and optimize your cloud expenses. It offers detailed insights into resource utilization, cost forecasting, and budget tracking and is one of the simplest ways to optimize Azure costs.
- Seamless integration with Azure services, the Azure portal, and the wider range of Microsoft services.
- A user-friendly interface makes it easy to perform cost analysis.
- Real-time cost analysis data can be easily defined by cost centre, technology, or user base, giving you granular reporting.
- Limited customization options are available for non-standard Azure deployments.
- Advanced features may require additional learning via the Azure portal.
Flexera delivers robust cloud management capabilities, helping organizations easily optimize Azure spending. Specifically, its strong offer includes automated cost-saving policies, cost allocation, and governance features to enhance cost visibility across all of the services Azure offers.
Also read: Cloud Native
- Powerful automation for cost control provides regular insights with no effort.
- Granular cost allocation helps you drill down into specific problem areas.
- Multi-cloud management if you’re using Azure and AWS together.
- A steeper learning curve than other Azure cost management tools.
- Basic features offer good coverage, but advanced features have a higher price tag.
3. BMC Helix Cloud Cost
As part of BMC’s border range of cost management and security tools, BMC Helix Cloud Cost focuses on providing a unified view of cloud expenses across multiple platforms. Among other things, it offers cost tracking, anomaly detection, budget forecasting, and optimization recommendations, helping to make it the complete cloud cost intelligence platform.
- Integrates directly with your infrastructure, meaning the data comes directly from Azure.
- Predictive cost analytics for Azure pricing helps identify your cost per user and cost per technology.
- Integration with other platforms, such as ITSM, helps paint a complete picture of your IT landscape.
- UI can be overwhelming and complicated, especially if you don’t need to analyze advanced Azure cloud costs.
- It can be expensive compared to other options on this list.
Looker delivers Azure cost management features as part of the customizable Business Intelligence capabilities it’s famous for. As a Google product, Looker integrates via an Azure Markplace add-in that allows users to create custom dashboards that facilitate in-depth analysis of Azure spending. While not a dedicated tool, powerful data insight helps Looker make the list of the top 15 best Azure cost management tools.
- Advanced data visualization capabilities give you insights to identify idle resources in Azure.
- Customizable reporting makes data available in a range of formats.
- It’s completely scalable for large-cost data sets.
- It may take some work to initially configure as it’s not a traditional cloud cost management tool.
- SQL knowledge is required for advanced use cases.
CloudZero specializes in full-cost intelligence for engineering teams. Once integrated with Microsoft Azure, it focuses on providing real-time insights into the financial impact of your entire IT operations, including code changes, new machines, and additional subscriptions, alongside the standard reporting for Azure licenses and provisioning.
- Dev-centric cost visibility can be broken down by architecture component and business area.
- Automated anomaly or overspend detection helps teams react to spikes in cloud spend.
- Integration with CI/CD pipelines helps show how costs could change over time.
- It may require additional tools and integrations for comprehensive cost management.
CloudHealth, part of VMware, offers a comprehensive cloud management platform with a strong focus on cost optimization. It provides robust reporting, policy enforcement, and automation capabilities to make it one of the top Azure cost management solutions on the market. It also plugs into other tools from the VMware stack, allowing for smooth integrations of data and a joint-up picture of IT performance.
- A holistic view of your entire cloud management.
- Customizable dashboards help bring Azure data to life.
- Policy-driven automation stops costs being spent that may cause you to exceed budget.
- Pricing for the platform can be complex and ironically, a little expensive.
- Advanced features may overwhelm casual users.
With features for development, CI/CD, and security, Harness is much more than a cost management platform. But with that said, it does a great job at helping companies optimize Azure costs with Azure data continuously captured and reviewed by the platform. It also uses this data for other features, such as automated scaling, budget tracking, and policy enforcement.
- Automated dashboards and alerts help teams stay on top of changes.
- Support for multi-cloud environments, including Azure, Google, and AWS, to manage cloud costs across environments.
- Azure cost management runs continuously to provide real-time insights.
- It may be overkill for small-scale deployments looking to tactically reduce your Azure costs.
- A steep learning curve for advanced features.
With a focus on resource management across your IT environment, Densify uses Machine Learning to optimize cloud resource utilization and, ultimately, IT costs. It offers intelligent recommendations for right-sizing environment resources (such as the Azure Kubernetes service), contributing to a great Azure cost optimization strategy.
- Machine Learning-driven optimization.
- Proactive cost recommendations based on resource utilization.
- Integration with popular cloud providers, including Azure.
- The interface can be complex and should only really be used by experienced Cloud resource managers.
- Requires trust in automated optimization decisions.
As part of the broader suite of Spot applications, CloudCheckr provides comprehensive cloud management and cost optimization features. It includes intelligent insights, security checks, and automation to enhance Azure cost management and provide accurate cost allocation analysis.
- Security and compliance checks sit alongside general cost optimization tools to give a complete picture.
- Granular cost reporting to manage your Azure bill.
- Integrates with Azure to take data and convert it to cost-management best practices.
- The UI can be overwhelming for beginners.
- Advanced features may require additional configuration from the vendor.
Vantage prides itself on being the best provider within Azure cost management circles. It provides advanced analytics across the board, helping you make intelligent decisions regarding resource allocation, rightsizing, and cost forecasting. Its Autopilot feature even makes decisions for you, buying and selling capacity as and when your business needs it, meaning cost management is a service Vantage can provide, not just an intelligence platform.
- Advanced analytics capabilities through integration with a range of data sources.
- AI-driven optimization can make data-led decisions on your behalf to further drive down costs.
- Collaboration features for teams of all shapes and sizes.
- It may be overkill for smaller organizations that need simple cost tracking.
- This is a powerful tool and, as such, has a steep learning curve for advanced features.
Optimize Azure Costs with Azure Cost Management Tools
Azure is one of the world’s leading cloud providers, with enterprises all around the globe using it to host their servers, applications, and back-end infrastructure. With a hosting provider forming the backbone of your IT capability, businesses use Azure cost management techniques to track their expenses, optimizing costs wherever necessary.
Choosing the right Azure cost management tool depends on your organization’s specific needs, expertise, and budget, but the good news is that there are a whole host of tools on the Azure marketplace.
We’d recommend that you evaluate these tools based on their features, usability, and how well they align with your cloud cost optimization goals. Each tool has strengths and weaknesses, so take the time to explore and select the one that best fits your requirements.
If you need some help, here’s how we at Inetum can help with our structured cost-management process:
- First, we document your business risks and convert them into policy statements that establish clear boundaries for Azure cost management.
- Then, we work with you to set up robust processes to monitor violations and adherence to these policies.
- In the initial monitoring phase, we analyze Azure usage and current resource utilization and delve into the cost breakdown structure, understanding every facet of the expenses.
- Then, we work with you to examine your architecture and identify a plan for optimization opportunities.
- Finally, we implement our agreed plan, focusing on implementing quick fixes, scaling down oversized resources, and shutting down or removing resources that are no longer in use. We emphasize automation as a key strategy for efficient cost management, automating operational tasks such as auto-scaling, auto-pausing, and auto-deletion.
What are you waiting for? Work with us to optimize your Azure estate and watch your Azure costs become a streamlined and efficient part of your IT operations.
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