Saving Money in Azure - More Ways to Save - Cobweb

Saving Money in Azure – More Ways to Save

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Over the last few articles, I’ve wrote about some of the ways to save money in Azure by choosing the right sizes and tiers of Azure resources to meet your current needs and to use Reservations and Azure Hybrid Benefit to switch off pay-as-you-go (PAYG) meters in exchange for 1- or 3-year commitment term.  This time I want to cover some of the other ways to save money, that are not big enough subjects to have their own article, but are still useful to know about.

Orphaned Resources

An orphaned resource is a resource that is not assigned to a parent resource.  It can be left behind when its parent resource is deleted or it could have been created for a temporary purpose and then left behind, such as a disk snapshot.  I often find random Public IP addresses and managed disks, but no VM that they belong to.  These resources have a cost, so deleting them will save money.  Sometimes they have been left intentionally, such as reserving the IP address for later use or keeping the disk as a backup in case data on it is needed later, but often they are just forgotten about.

Azure has recently taken steps to address this issue and now asks if you want to delete the associated resources when you delete a VM, but it’s still worth checking to see if you have any orphaned resources in your Azure subscription.  Similar to orphaned resources are…

Unused Resources

Just as orphaned resources may be costing you money, so might unused resources.  The number of times I have deployed something as a test or proof of concept and then moved on to the next task, forgetting the resource is running, is too many to count.  Identifying unused resources and deleting them will save you money.  Thankfully I tend to check my spending frequently and can delete these resources before they cost too much, but I’m sure not everyone is as disciplined.  I’ve come across resources running in Azure and no one knows what they are, what they do, who deployed them (or even if they are still an employee) or why.  The only thing they do know is they are costing money and that leads into…

Good Governance

In Azure, you can set tags on almost every resource.  A tag is a name and value pair that can be anything you want.  I’d recommend as a minimum you set tags for “Created by” and “Created on” and ensure these are filled in accurately.  Other tags to consider are project codes, cost/department codes, delete by dates, etc.  Tags can be updated, so can be used for auditing purposes, but it definitely helps to know the who, what, why and when several months later as you look at the resource and wonder why it’s there and running.

Azure policies can also be applied to subscriptions that can be used to limit the size of resources that can be created and the regions they can be created in – this can save money by stopping someone from accidentally deploying an expensive resource.  Policies can also be used to enforce tags, stopping the resource from being deployed if the tag hasn’t been set.

OS and Data Disks

Azure managed disks are attached to Azure VMs to provide persistent storage to the VM.  All VMs must have one OS disk and may optionally have one or more data disks.  Managed disks are available in several tiers, including Standard HDD, Standard SSD and Premium SSD.  Microsoft recommends Premium SSD for production workloads as they have better/more consistent performance characteristics, but these are the most expensive of the three.  If the VM is turned off overnight or at the weekend, the disk continues to incur cost, even though it’s not using the Premium SSD’s premium performance.  If your VM is going to be stopped for a while, you can save money by converting it to a Standard HDD (cheapest) while it’s off and then back to a Premium SSD again when the VM needs to be turned back on.  You can do this manually each time, but far better to script it as part of the on/off automation.

Reduce Lab and PoC Costs

This one is a bit limited use, but if you’re deploying resources into a lab or running a PoC and the resources are only needed for short periods at a time, bear in mind that it’s not just VMs that can be turned off to save money, many other resources can be too, so it’s worth searching the Microsoft documentation for each resource type that you have deployed to see if there is a way to stop or de-allocate it.  Just because there is no way to do so in the Portal, doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t be done via PowerShell or the Azure CLI.

Azure Cost Management

Azure Cost Management is a tool in the Portal that can be used to drill into your Azure costs and break them down by timeframe, region, resource group, resource type or even individual resources.  While using it won’t save you money itself, it lets you visualise your spending in various ways and hunt for opportunities to save money.  You can create custom views and then have them emailed to you each day, week or month.  This saves you from having to regularly visit the Portal to view these reports, allows you to forward them to other people who may not have access to the Portal, and also include them in presentation or reports.


Azure offers many ways to save money and it’s definitely worth looking into each of them to see if you can benefit.  However, it can take a fair bit of time and effort to get it right and that where Cobweb can assist.  We can advise on the recommended resource SKUs and tiers for your needs, the best use of Reservations and CSP Software Subscription licensing, and our cost assessments can highlight other areas where you could save money in Azure.