Azure Cloud Consumption and Cloud Bills — Who Is Responsible?

Since Microsoft Azure came into play, it has all the IT folks, I&O professionals, and developers drooling over its cloud computing capabilities and offerings.

However, they often forget about the costs and bills that spike up the entire IT budget at month’s end. Since developers are more focused on optimizing the code and rapid development, their end goals do not align with the cost strategy outlined by the management or finance team. This kind of disconnect between cloud resource creators and billpayers leads to overspending, cost anomalies, unnecessary expenses, and so on.

This article will give you a detailed understanding of what causes the misalignment of cloud & cost strategies and how we can manage Azure cloud consumption while optimizing the costs.

Who is Responsible for Cloud Consumption and Who Pays The Bill

Usually, the management or finance department has to pay the bill, but they are not aware of why they are spending on cloud or who and what incurred these costs. On the other hand, developers don’t have access to the IT budget and don’t know how much they spend every time they spin up a new resource.

Developers or DevOps professionals are more concerned about leveraging the cloud computing benefits that Azure has to offer, such as higher flexibility, increased computing speed, storage, scalability, and more. However, the lack of visibility and the dearth of a sense of responsibility to control excessive cloud expenditure causes the monthly cloud bills to skyrocket.  

Everyone taking ownership of their cloud usage is a foundation Principle of FinOps. The FinOps framework provides the practices necessary to understand who should be responsible for cloud consumption and paying cloud bills. By implementing cost allocation, showback, chargeback, cost reporting, governance, and fostering collaboration, FinOps enables organizations to gain clarity on cloud costs, promote accountability, and optimize cloud spending.

Why Should Development Team Care About Azure Cloud Cost?

It is important to address the disconnect between the management and the development teams to avoid expensive Azure invoices. Your development team should be as involved in the cloud cost and budget strategy as your finance and leadership teams are.

Allowing technical professionals or developers to create new resources and provision Azure services to IT workloads without them having to track their expense patterns is like someone else taking a cab ride while you are paying for it. Developers need more transparency across the Azure environment and visibility into what resources they are creating or using and how much they are spending on cloud.

Engineering teams should know that efficient cloud consumption is not just about agile development but also cost optimization without renouncing the business value to be delivered.

How to Prioritize Azure Cloud Cost Management

One of Gartner’s key findings of how to manage and optimize costs of public cloud states, “focusing on efficient use of cloud services brings immediate and tangible financial benefits. Unfortunately, most organizations are unprepared to profit from this savings opportunity and they’re likely to overspend.”

It’s time that you bring cost awareness across your organization and developers prioritize the management and optimization of Azure cloud costs.

The Need For Cloud Governance

Put a governance system in place to monitor, track, and help mitigate the cost leaks in your Azure environment by establishing cost transparency and sound policies for consuming cloud services.

The following set of best practices for Azure cost management should be implemented and performed organization-wide:

  • Resource Tagging

Create a sound tagging strategy for your organization and ensure that all cloud users correctly tag every resource in Azure.

To know more about Azure Tagging, read the article — Azure Tagging Strategies and Best Practices.

  • Scheduled Shutdowns and Resource Resizing

Ask the resource owners to identify and perform bulk shutdowns of large numbers of resources that are idle and no longer in use.

Also, look beyond these large-scale resource shutdown occasions and find more granular opportunities to turn off unused resources or resize underutilized resources (i.e., switch resource SKUs up or down) based on your business needs.

  • Autoscaling

Automation is one of the most significant and substantial benefits cloud offers. Autoscaling your Azure resources will match your variable workload and application requirements by automatically scaling the resource count and size up or down.

Autoscaling not only prevents you from wasting extraneous dollars on misused resources but also handles peak workload demands during heavy data traffic.

  • Architecture Optimization

Remember that IT infrastructure and architectural design changes will impact your future Azure costs and likely eat into your profits if not optimized properly. Rethink your traditional architectural approach (that is the result of your early decisions), revise your existing infrastructure, and adopt a new, cost-efficient cloud architecture such as serverless.

Leveraging Azure Functions for serverless computing will enable your developers to build and deploy a cost-effective, scalable application with minimal friction.

  • Licensing Opportunities

Make the most out of Azure with a well-thought strategy for purchasing and utilizing licenses.

Take advantage of various purchasing options, such as Azure Reservations, Azure Spot Virtual Machines (VMs), Azure Hybrid Benefit, etc., that will work best for your business and significantly reduce the spending across your entire cloud ecosystem.

Moreover, you can install and integrate CloudMonitor for end-to-end visibility into your cloud environment. It enables you with AI-powered recommendations on cost optimization and governance and helps keep your Azure consumption under control.

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Rodney Joyce

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