Azure Advisor

Azure Advisor is a free tool which helps you to optimise your Azure resources for high availability, security, performance, and cost by providing free, personalised recommendations based on your usage and configurations. If you’re new to Advisor, find a nice overview video here: http://bit.ly/2KRYT2N. If you want to know more about the ways that Advisor can save you money – for example optimising virtual machine spend by resizing or shutting down underutilised instances, then this is a useful page: http://bit.ly/2ZdW6X0.

Azure Management Portal app

If you’re responsible for the management of Azure resources then you’ll be familiar with the Azure Management Portal. Are you using its baby brother – the Azure mobile app? The idea is that you can keep track of your Azure resources while on-the-go, whether it’s keeping informed of alerts and health issues, or taking corrective action like starting and stopping VMs and web apps.

Find out more with links to download the app here: http://bit.ly/2ZcEdf9.

Predict costs and optimise spending for Azure: Microsoft Learn Course

There are some useful tools available in Azure to help customers to get a better understanding of cloud spend which can be leveraged for significant cost savings. To get an overview of these tools and some great best practice tips and tricks for saving on infrastructure and licensing costs, then the “Predict costs and optimise spending for Azure” course from Microsoft Learn is a productive way to spend an hour and a quarter. Find this free course here: http://bit.ly/33zHHHU.

Pricing guidance for SQL Server VMs in Azure

There’s an excellent article from Microsoft that gives some great advice on saving money when running SQL Server VMs in Azure. Tips include:

  • using a free edition of SQL Server (Developer or Express) where possible
  • choosing the SQL meter for temporary or periodic workloads, and bringing your own licence via the Azure Hybrid Benefit for workloads with a known lifetime and scale
  • correctly sizing the VM – perhaps choosing one of the special VMs that are optimised for certain types of SQL Server workloads which have a high level of resources but a lower virtualised core count
  • shutting down VMs where possible, perhaps using an automatic shutdown facility

Find the article here: http://bit.ly/2Ndp7jd.

Some updates to Reservations

Microsoft announce some updates to Reservations. Firstly, there are new Reservations available for Azure Databricks (1 and 3-year) and Azure App Service (3-year) which both give around 40% savings compared to Pay-As-You-Go pricing. Then there are a couple of new facilities: you can now automatically set your Reservations to renew, and can choose to assign them to a Resource Group within a Subscription rather than to the whole Subscription. Finally, Reservations can now be purchased using REST APIs, and there’s more data available to EA customers to help with optimising Reservations. Find the full article here: http://bit.ly/2Z2xUec.

Azure Dedicated Host

Microsoft announce the preview of Azure Dedicated Host, a new Azure service that enables customers to run Linux and Windows virtual machines on single-tenant physical servers.

So, how’s this all licensed? Well, first of all you choose the type of Azure Dedicated Host that you want. Currently there are three types, each based on a particular VM series: Dsv3, Esv3 or Fsv2, and you can run any virtual machines from the chosen family on a particular Azure Dedicated Host. Each Azure Dedicated Host has a specific number of vCPUs available and that dictates how many virtual machines you can run.

So, for example, the Dsv3 series Azure Dedicated Host has 64 vCPUs, so you could run 32 x D2s v3 VMs since they have 2 vCPUs each, or mix and match with 2 x D8s v3 (8 vCPUs each) + 2 x D16s v3 (16 vCPUs each) + 8 x D2s v3 (2 vCPUs each). You then pay an hourly charge for the Azure Dedicated Host, regardless of how many virtual machines are running, and that’s $3.38 per hour for the Dsv3 Series.

This hourly charge is for the compute power of the virtual machines, so then you need to pay for the software you want to run in those virtual machines. This can either be done on a metered, hourly basis, or you can bring your own Windows Server and SQL Server licences if you’re eligible for the Azure Hybrid Benefit – either through Software Assurance or if you have a Server Subscription bought through CSP.

How many licences do you bring? Well, you can follow the usual rules for licensing virtual machines in Azure, or you can license all the physical cores on the Azure Dedicated Host with Windows Server Datacenter or SQL Server Enterprise licences to be eligible for running an unlimited number of virtual machines. In terms of useful resources, find the announcement here: http://bit.ly/2M1TKIB, find the Azure Dedicated Host pricing page here: http://bit.ly/2KkxB6m, and an updated FAQ on the Azure Hybrid Benefit here: http://bit.ly/2g1HEwS.

Azure Lighthouse

Microsoft announce the General Availability of Azure Lighthouse (http://bit.ly/2XXR45e) on 11 July, 2019. This tool is primarily aimed at Service Providers who manage Azure resources across a number of customer tenants, but it’s also useful for customers who need to manage their own resources across multiple tenants. Typically, in order to manage Azure resources for a customer, a Service Provider has to sign in to the Azure Management portal using an account associated with that customer’s tenant, and if there are tasks to be done across multiple customer tenants, it’s a time-consuming process accessing each customer’s tenant separately.

Azure Lighthouse makes use of the Azure delegated resource management capability which, through a logical projection of customer resources onto a Service Provider’s tenant context, gives that partner a single control plane to view and manage Azure resources across all of their customers. Even better, it works across the different ways that a customer may have purchased Azure such as through an EA, CSP or directly from Azure.com. The service is free to use, and customers can be onboarded to Azure delegated resource management either by using Azure Resource Manager templates or by publishing a private or public Managed Services offer to the Azure Marketplace.

To find out more, tackle these resources in order:

  • Introducing managed services offers in Azure Marketplace – 20-minute session from Inspire: http://bit.ly/2M6BGMI
  • Azure Lighthouse: Shifting the managed services paradigm towards greater efficiency and security – 1-hour session from Inspire: http://bit.ly/2YmBXl9
  • Azure Lighthouse documentation: http://bit.ly/2Y04Zrf

Update on Microsoft Reservations

Microsoft Reservations are a way of pre-paying for certain Azure services to get the best possible pricing. The first Reservation from Microsoft was a Reserved Instance – a way of paying upfront for the compute part of a virtual machine – and Microsoft continues to extend what, and where, Reservations are available.

In February 2019, Microsoft announced that Reserved Instance discounts had been extended to apply both to Classic Virtual Machines and Cloud Services, and that Reserved Instances could be applied to Dev/Test Subscriptions acquired through an Enterprise Agreement or through Azure.com. Find that announcement here: http://bit.ly/2KEIVdP.

More recently, in April 2019, they announced that the Reservations family had grown to include two new members. Firstly,

SQL Data Warehouse Reserved Capacity allows customers to buy compute Data Warehouse Units (cDWU) with either 1-year or 3-year options for discounts of up to 65%. Reserved Capacity can be shared by multiple warehouses in the same region and there are exchange and cancel options available if business needs change. Secondly, there are new RedHat Enterprise Linux Software Plans where the rules are stricter in terms of exchanging and cancelling, but discounts of up to 18% are still available.

Find the announcement and get further details here: http://bit.ly/2Mzvq1D.

Selling Azure through CSP

If you’re a partner selling Azure through CSP then you’ll be interested in a new Microsoft blog post where some upcoming changes are detailed about a new Azure experience in CSP, and the introduction of both the existing Microsoft Customer Agreement and a new Microsoft Partner Agreement in CSP. Get the full details including expected timelines here: http://bit.ly/2Ilm4l1.