As economic and political turmoil tightens budgets, thoughts at many organisations are turning to how they can optimise and modernise their cloud environments. In this blog, our Azure Product Director Nick Isherwood takes you through some of the ways you can optimise Azure costs throughout your cloud journey.
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As we can see in Flexera’s State of the Cloud 2022 report, organisations are shifting their focus to optimising cloud spend as their top initiative, whether this is during a migration project or reviewing existing use of cloud resources.
As organisations mature, there is a growing understanding that you can do more with less when you optimise what you already have. Azure can really help organisations do this thanks to its scalability, cost-effective offers, built-in security and high availability – an all-in-one platform for your data and apps.
The cloud journey with Azure
Any cloud provider will have a well-established framework that sets out the most common stages of the cloud journey. Microsoft often refers to this as the five Rs: rehost, refactor, re-architect, rebuild and replace.
At Content+Cloud, we typically work with clients at one of three stages. Many organisations may perform an initial lift-optimise-shift migration into Azure, such as moving infrastructure because of a critical business event calling for a cloud migration, taking the opportunity to rationalise wherever possible, but also stabilising and protecting their workloads in doing so. Alongside this, or shortly after an initial migration, organisations will consider how they can reduce infrastructure requirements by utilising Platform as a Service (PaaS) services such as Azure SQL Databases or Azure App Service, and considering where services can be scaled to demand or right-sized for cost and performance.
The ambition for many organisations is to achieve a comprehensive transformation of applications either through Software as a Service (SaaS) or reimagining applications using cloud native services to create modern experiences and efficient business processes that allow you to do more with less. Of course, the key to this is understanding that full transformation might only be achieved through a phased migration and modernisation plan, beginning with strategy, planning and assessment.
How can you reduce costs through the Azure cloud journey?
With a well thought out plan aligned with the Microsoft cloud adoption framework, you can ensure your cloud journey will be as cost-effective as it can be before you even start your migration. With a range of free solution assessments available through accredited partners and Microsoft, you can make tools-based, qualitative and quantitative analyses of your existing environments to get an accurate prediction of what your costs could look like in the cloud.
As well as giving you a forecast of your spend, solutions assessments can highlight opportunities for you to modernise and implement other cost-effective levers that all help to build the business case for the cloud.
These assessments form part of the Azure Migration and Modernisation Programme (AMMP) curated set of services. AMMP, available through Microsoft’s most trusted Azure partners, helps organisations move to the cloud in a safe and secure way, providing a line of sight over projected running costs and offers that are unique to Azure along the way. With AMMP, you get the right mix of resources and expert help at every step of your cloud journey, not to mention a range of cost savings and incentives exclusive to the programme.
AMMP is an ideal solution not only for organisations assessing and planning their cloud adoption, but also for those already making steps towards migrating and modernising. You can leverage benefits for funding, upskilling and accessing learning platforms throughout these stages.
Optimising spend in the cloud
We know that the days of envisaging and embarking upon digital transformation are behind us – many organisations are already adopting cloud-first thinking and are well past the assess and plan stages. How, then, can you optimise cost when you’re already managing data and services in the cloud?
There are a number of ongoing benefits that we can leverage from Microsoft for organisations we work with. The Enterprise Skills Initiative (ESI), for example, is available through AMMP as an ongoing benefit designed to help bring your teams along on the cloud journey. For anyone familiar with Microsoft Learn, ESI builds on what you can get from the learning platform with virtual classroom experiences led by instructors in many languages, even with the bonus of free exam vouchers.
Another ongoing benefit for organisations moving to Azure is extended security updates. By moving your Windows Server 2012 and SQL Server 2012 workloads into Azure, you can automatically benefit from three years of extended free security updates. This gives organisations more time to prepare for how the applications on these servers will be modernised on these servers as they reach end of support.
Optimise Azure costs with combined discounts
There are three additional benefits available to organisations that share some similarities: Azure Hybrid Usage Benefit, Azure Reservations and Azure Savings Plan for Compute.
With Azure Hybrid Usage Benefit (AHUB), if you have an enterprise agreement or have invested in on-premises licensing for Windows Server or SQL Server and have software assurance, then you can bring those licences to the cloud. This benefit discounts the licensing cost you pay for your Azure resource, leaving you with only the infrastructure cost to pay.
For even greater savings, AHUB can be used in combination with another benefit, Azure Reservations. This benefit applies to virtual machines as well as many other workloads. It gives organisations the ability to commit to one- or three-year-long periods of consumption for workloads that will remain relatively static. Combined with AHUB, Azure Reservations can reduce the cost of running resources in Azure by up to 85%.
A more flexible alternative recently launched by Microsoft is the Azure Savings Plan for Compute. This still works through a one or three-year commitment of an hourly spend and will apply discounts for the various compute services that you might be using, prioritising the best discount available for your commitment per hour. This benefit can be used alongside Reservations, but the latter will take precedence with the higher-level discounts.
These offers and incentives, along with others can really make a difference to your running costs in Azure and even allow you to reinvest your savings into other projects. Here’s a snapshot of the offers and incentives we can help you access according to your stage of the cloud journey and eligibility:
|Offer||Assess & Plan||Migrate & Modernise||Ongoing Benefit|
|Azure Credit Offer||✔||✔|
|Azure Solutions Assessment||✔|
|Free Migration Tools||✔|
|Enterprise Skills Initiative||✔|
|Extended Security Updates||✔|
|Azure Hybrid Usage Benefit||✔|
|Azure Savings plan for Compute||✔|
A table showing the offers available at stages of the cloud journey
Working with a managed service provider to optimise Azure costs
One thing you should be aware of is that these savings aren’t generally available to just anyone on their cloud journey – it’s by working with a specialist partner and Azure Expert Managed Service Provider (MSP) that you can leverage the benefits on offer.
At Content+Cloud, we’re proud to hold not only Azure Expert MSP status but a number of Microsoft Solutions Partner specialisations that really highlight what our experts can bring you. We’ve been recognised as a Solutions Partner for both Data and AI in Azure, and Digital and App Innovation in Azure. Our Infrastructure in Azure Solutions Partner status also includes specialisations in Azure Virtual Desktop and Windows Server and SQL Server Migration.
These awards are not just a showcase of our expertise – they allow us to leverage all of the cost-saving programmes and support directly from Microsoft to help you reduce the cost and complexity of your cloud journey, whatever shape that takes. From migration to modernisation scenarios, we will align the most relevant benefits and offer best in class guidance.
It’s time for organisations to move beyond their digital transformation and embrace the digital imperative to do more with less. To find out how you can optimise your cloud usage to get the most value, sign up for a solution assessment with our Azure experts.
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