Skip to main content

The economic challenges posed by the global health pandemic continue to affect every organization around the world. During this difficult time, cost optimization has become an especially critical topic. Recently, we provided an overview of how to approach cost optimization on Microsoft Azure, which laid out three focus areas to help you get the most value out of your Azure investment: understanding and forecasting your costs, optimizing your workload costs, and controlling your costs.

Today, we’ll dive more deeply into the second focus area—how you can optimize your Azure workloads costs—and show you how guidance in the Microsoft Azure Well-Architected Framework, tools like Azure Advisor, and offers like the Azure Hybrid Benefit and Azure Reservations can help you operate more efficiently on Azure and save.

Design workloads for cost optimization using best practices from the Azure Well-Architected Framework

The Azure Well-Architected Framework is designed to help you build and deploy cloud workloads with confidence, using actionable and simple to use deep technical content, assessments, and reference architectures based on proven industry best practices. You can assess workloads against the five pillars of the Azure Well-Architected Framework cloud design—cost optimization, reliability, security, performance efficiency, and operational excellence—to help you focus on the right activities and to ensure you optimize workloads and proactively meet business needs.

The cost optimization section of the Azure Well-Architected Framework is all about managing costs to get the most value out of your Azure workloads and covers:

A great way to get started with the Azure Well-Architected Framework is by taking the Azure Well-Architected Review. This review examines your workload against the best practices defined by the pillars of reliability, cost optimization, operational excellence, security, and performance efficiency. You can choose to take the review for any or all of the pillars, so you can start by focusing on cost optimization, if you prefer.

Optimize your Azure resources with best practice recommendations from Azure Advisor

Your workloads are composed of resources, so configuring your resources according to the latest Azure best practices is critical to ensuring your workloads are cost optimized. Azure Advisor is a free service that helps you optimize your already-deployed Azure resources for cost, security, performance, reliability, and operational excellence. Advisor is aligned with the Azure Well-Architected Framework, but is targeted at the resource level instead of the workload level. Advisor’s recommendations are personalized to your Azure environment based on your resource telemetry and configurations.

Examples of Advisor cost recommendations include rightsizing underutilized or shutting down unused resources, buying reserved instances to save over pay-as-you-go costs, and using storage lifecycle management. Our full list of Advisor cost recommendations is available.

Advisor offers several features to make it faster and easier to optimize your resources. Quick Fix enables one-click bulk remediation of recommendations, so you can multi-select resources you’d like to remediate. Click Quick Fix, and Advisor takes care of the rest. You can configure Advisor to display only the recommendations that mean the most to you, such as those for your production subscriptions and resource groups. Advisor alerts notify you when you have new recommendations, and Advisor recommendation digests remind you about available recommendations you haven’t remediated yet.

Visit the Advisor documentation to learn more and get started remediating your cost recommendations.

Save big on Azure by leveraging your existing on-premises licensing investment with the Azure Hybrid Benefit

The Azure Hybrid Benefit is a licensing benefit that lets you bring your Windows Server and SQL Server on-premises licenses with Software Assurance or subscriptions to Azure and save up to 85 percent compared to standard pay as-you-go rates,1 so you only pay for the compute costs on Azure. You can apply these savings across Azure SQL and Azure Dedicated Host.

License mobility benefits offered by Azure include the ability to bring your Windows Server and SQL Server licenses to the cloud, leverage SQL Server licensing in Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) environments, and gain additional licensing benefits, including 180-day dual use rights of your licenses, both on-premises and in Azure. For your heavily-virtualized workloads, you get four vCPUs of Azure SQL Database or Azure SQL Managed Instance for each core of SQL Server Enterprise.

These unique advantages plus additional benefits such as, free fail-over servers licensing for SQL Server disaster recovery and free extended security updates, make Azure the best-in-class cloud for Windows Server and SQL Server.

Check out the Azure Hybrid Benefit Documentation for more technical tutorials and resources.

Reserve upfront and pay less with Azure Reservations

Receive a discount on your Azure services by purchasing Azure Reservations, which is a one-year or three-year commitment to specific Azure services. Giving us visibility into your one-year or three-year resource needs in advance allows us to be more efficient. In return, we pass these savings onto you as discounts of up to 72 percent.2 When you buy a reservation, you immediately receive a discount and are no longer charged at pay-as-you-go rates. This offer is ideal for Azure services that use significant capacity or run for long periods of time in a consistent way.

Reservation discounts apply to the following eligible subscriptions and offer types:

  • Enterprise agreements (offer numbers: MS-AZR-0017P or MS-AZR-0148P).
  • Microsoft Customer Agreement subscriptions.
  • Individual plans with pay-as-you-go rates (offer numbers: MS-AZR-0003P or MS-AZR-0023P).
  • Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) subscriptions.

Learn more

Learn more about how to lower your upfront cash outflow with various monthly payment options at no additional cost in the reservations documentation.

You could achieve the lowest cost of ownership when you combine the Azure Hybrid Benefit, reservation pricing, and extended security updates. Cost optimize your Azure workloads today with these Azure cost saving options.

Check back soon for more cloud cost optimization guidance or visit our Azure cost optimization page to learn more.

1The 85 percent savings is based on 8-Core D13 v2 VM in East US 2 region. Savings are calculated from full price (license included) for SQL Server Enterprise edition VM against reduced rate (applying Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server and Windows Server), which excludes Software Assurance costs for SQL Server and Windows Server, which may vary based on EA agreement or any applicable volume licensing agreement. Actual savings may vary based on region, instance size and compute family. Prices as of June 5, 2018 are subject to change.

2The 72 percent saving is based on one M32ts Azure VM for Windows OS in US Gov Virginia region running for 36 months at a pay-as-you-go rate of ~$3,660.81/month; reduced rate for a 3-year Reserved Instance of ~$663.45/month. Azure pricing as of October 30, 2018 (prices subject to change). Actual savings may vary based on location, instance type, or usage.

  • Explore


    Let us know what you think of Azure and what you would like to see in the future.


    Provide feedback

  • Build your cloud computing and Azure skills with free courses by Microsoft Learn.


    Explore Azure learning