Azure pricing: How to optimize costs for your Azure workloads

Azure pricing: How to optimize costs for your Azure workloads

In our previous blogs we explained the Azure pricing structure, how customers can calculate their costs when migrating or building in Azure, and how they can budget for specific resources with the Azure pricing calculator, Azure Reservations, and Azure Hybrid Benefit.


In this final installment of our blog series, we will discover how to optimize the value of your Azure investment. Through a mixture of optimization best practices and Azure tools, we will see how the digital media company Contoso maximizes their cloud spend to get more out of their workloads.   


Cost-effective tools and strategies to optimize Azure workloads

In the fast-paced world of digital media, efficiency and cost optimization are paramount. With workloads spanning from high-performance video rendering to real-time data analytics, Contoso wants to make sure they are managing costs and ensuring optimal resource utilization. Fortunately, Microsoft provides a suite of tools and best practices to help businesses streamline their Azure workloads and maximize their ROI (returns on investment).


Contoso starts by establishing a collaborative culture between their engineering, finance, and business teams, promoting data-driven decisions aligned with business objectives. This practice is called FinOps, an operational framework and cultural practice that brings together technology, processes, and people to maximize the value of cloud investments. Leveraging tools and services like Azure Policy, Azure Blueprints, Azure Automation, and Azure Resource Optimization to implement FinOps best practices helps Contoso optimize their cloud investments in the following ways:


  • Enforce consistent resource configurations
  • Enforce policies for accountability and efficiency
  • Automate operations
  • Continuously optimize resource utilization based on workload demands


To get deeper insight into their Azure spending, Contoso also relies on Microsoft Cost Management, our comprehensive solution which leverages the latest in Microsoft Copilot to bring you insights, accountability controls, and the ability to remediate when opportunities arise


The company utilizes Azure VMs for video rendering and transcoding tasks, often requiring high-performance compute resources which can result in significant costs if not managed effectively. With Microsoft Cost Management, the company can easily track and analyze the costs associated with these VMs, categorizing them by resource group, subscription, or custom tags.


By leveraging cost alerts and budgets, Contoso can proactively monitor their spending in Microsoft Cost Management and receive notifications when predefined thresholds are approached or exceeded. This empowers them to take timely actions, such as scaling down resources during periods of lower demand or implementing cost-saving measures like Azure Reservations for workloads with predictable usage patterns. The tool also provides detailed cost analysis reports, enabling the identification of potential cost optimization opportunities. For instance, the company may discover underutilized VMs or inefficient VM sizing, leading to right-sizing or scaling decisions that can significantly reduce costs without compromising performance.


For further streamlining of their workloads, Contoso looks to Azure Advisor. Acting as a personalized cloud consultant that proactively analyzes Azure resource configurations and usage patterns, Azure Advisor provides actionable recommendations to optimize performance, security, and cost-effectiveness.


For example, Contoso uses Azure SQL Database for storing and managing large volumes of media metadata and user data. Azure Advisor can analyze the database configuration and usage patterns, offering recommendations such as scaling the database to a higher or lower service tier based on actual workload demands. This not only ensures optimal performance but also helps prevent over-provisioning and unnecessary costs.


However, they also needed to accommodate dynamic  workloads and a zero-downtime cutover to multiple data centers for uninterrupted usage. For this, Azure Advisor recommended Azure savings plans for compute. With savings plan they were able to commit to a consistent spend level based their historical usage and receive automatic savings on eligible compute usage. Azure savings plans provided the flexibility needed to handle Contoso’s dynamic traffic without incurring excessive costs.


Streamlining Azure workloads to maximize efficiency

In the dynamic and resource-intensive world of digital media, optimizing Azure workloads is crucial for maximizing efficiency and reducing operational costs. By leveraging Microsoft Cost Management, Azure Advisor, and FinOps best practices, Contoso gained valuable insights, actionable recommendations, and best practices to streamline their Azure deployments.



Additional resources:

Azure Enablement Show: Understand Azure pricing & resources

Blog: Azure pricing | How to navigate Azure pricing options and resources

Blog: Azure pricing | How to estimate Azure project costs  

Blog: Azure pricing | How to calculate costs of Azure products and services

Azure pricing skilling content collection

Control Azure spending and manage bills with Microsoft Cost Management + Billing - Training

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