The Many Complexities of Azure Cloud Sizing

Moving to Microsoft’s Azure can be an exciting experience, with so many services including File Storage and Machine Learning Analytics, SQL Databases, and Data Transfer, to name just a few. With so many infrastructure options in one place, moving to the cloud is becoming the obvious option for IT departments. Correctly sizing Azure is a vital first step to maintaining your IT budget. It’s like getting a new pair of shoes; you don’t want to waddle around in clown shoes, but you also will need something that doesn’t pinch your toes.

Unfortunately, Azure is a large and complex system, meaning correctly sizing for your organization’s needs is no simple task. At MetrixData 360, we have provided our expert advice to many companies hoping to gain insights into how best to size their Azure environment. As a result, we have helped them maximize value from their Azure purchase. In this article, we’ll go through everything you need to think about when purchasing the right Azure size for you.

Different Azure Sizes for Your Virtual Machines

Microsoft has 11 different Azure Series available, from the entry-level A-Series to the far more robust N-Series. Within each series, there are also multiple sizes of virtual machines (VMs) available, pushing the number of offered virtual machine options into the hundreds. Some of these options types include:

  • General purpose (ideal for testing and development)
  • Compute Optimized (great high CPU-to-memory ratio, only available in Fsv2)
  • Memory Optimized
  • Storage optimized (only available in Lsv2)
  • GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) Optimized
  • High Performance Compute

Each option comes with a variety of different sizes and different pricing metrics. In such a complex environment, how are you supposed to know how to properly size your organization’s needs when moving to Azure?

That is where we come into the picture. We understand the complex nature of Azure and their licensing structure. With our custom-built tool set, we can accurately determine your sizing and computing needs, ensuring your IT department avoids over-licensing fees, costly true-ups, or being under-equipped. By collecting the most accurate data we can from your environment, our specialists are able to make well informed decisions regarding your needs. Microsoft has provided a basic Azure Pricing calculator of their own, though it is a convoluted tool to use.

Provisioning Virtual Machines

While finding the perfect Azure size is critical for your cost saving efforts, Microsoft’s unique way of calculating cost can make it difficult to size correctly, thanks to a little something Microsoft calls ‘provisioning’. Provisioning refers to a payment method where you pay based on a fixed capacity. This capacity could refer to memory capacity, bandwidth capacity or any other type of capacity. This capacity doesn’t reflect actual usage but instead is merely a fixed amount of space that you are paying for at any given moment, provisioning for less than you actually use could lead to your VMs struggling to cope with their tasks. This fixed capacity also doesn’t account for the changes in demand over a given year. However, it is more likely that you will pay for more than you use, which means you are wasting money on things you don’t use.

Determining When to Puchase Reserved Instances

Strategic purchases of Microsoft’s Azure Reserved Instances (RI) can provide you with great discounts compared to the pay-as-you-go model – 36-47% cheaper for a one-year term; 60-72% cheaper if you sign up for a three year term; and potentially up to 80% cheaper if you combined it with the Hybrid Benefit. The fact that you can pay either a single upfront payment or monthly payments also offers a simpler solution when you are trying to budget your IT expenses. The process of purchasing your RI is as easy as selecting your Azure region, the virtual machine type, or how long you’d like your term to be (one year or three years) and you’re good to go. It is easy to exchange and cancel your reserved instances as you choose. However, it is important to note that a Reserved Instance is not an actual instance, it’s more like a coupon you can use when your instances are billed. Microsoft gets a guarantee in your business, and you get a discount. There are, however, still some drawbacks to purchasing reserved instances:

  • You’re locked in with the payment system once you’re signed up for it, and a lot of the costs, if not all of them, are upfront.
  • It’s not as easy to scale up or down compared to the Pay-as-You-Go system.

Thinking about your Move to Azure?

While significant changes to any department can cause a struggle, the same goes for the transition into Azure’s environment. Employees will have to be trained on managing the new platform and there needs to be management of both your on-prem and Azure assets. It may even be a smart idea to hire someone to look after your Azure platform.

At MetrixData 360, we provide our clients with the knowledge and the tools they need to manage their transition to the Azure’s platform successfully, which is why we have made a whole guidebook around the subject. If you would like to learn more about Azure, you can download our guide to Azure Licensing here.