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Everyone is under pressure to cut costs these days. But in times of economic flux, it’s not just about cutting costs. A successful approach lies in the ability to continuously optimize and prioritize what matters most to drive innovation, productivity, and agility and to realize an ongoing cycle of growth and innovation. Reinvestment opens the opportunity to maintain momentum when everyone else is seeking to downsize – that’s the competitive advantage optimization offers your business.
Continuous optimization starts with adopting best practices as you migrate or onboard workloads to Azure. However, assessing your deployed environment to ensure you’re following those best practices can be challenging. To help you accomplish this, we developed Azure Advisor. Think of it as a free, personalized guide to Azure best practices. Azure Advisor is available to every Azure customer in the Azure Portal and through the API and provides relevant best practices and actionable recommendations to help you optimize your Azure resources.
To make it even easier to highlight missing best practices as part of your Cloud deployment, we recently added three new workbook templates to Azure Advisor. The new workbooks provide a flexible canvas for data analysis and enable you to create rich visual reports within the Azure portal. They also allow you to tap into multiple data sources from across Azure and combine them into unified interactive experiences.
Let’s look at each of the new workbooks individually, then we’ll examine how all three new workbook templates can be used together to help you improve reliability, security, and performance, achieve operational excellence, and reduce costs.
As you move to the Cloud, it’s important to evaluate the reliability posture of your workloads, assess risks, and plan improvements. Architecting for reliability and resiliency ensures your workloads are available and can recover from failures to help you meet customer commitments. The Reliability Workbook helps you evaluate risk, assess and improve the reliability of your business-critical applications, and validate whether your deployed environment is following the right reliability best practices.
As of today, the Reliability Workbook offers the following best practices for Azure services (with more to come soon):
- Compute: Virtual Machines, Virtual Machine Scale Sets
- Containers: Azure Kubernetes service
- Databases: SQL Database, Synapse SQL Pool, Cosmos DB, Azure Database for MySQL, Azure Cache for Redis
- Integration: Azure API Management
- Networking: Azure Firewall, Azure Front Door & CDN, Application Gateway, Load Balancer, Public IP, VPN & Express Route Gateway
- Storage: Storage Account
- Web: App Service Plan, App Service, Function App
- Azure Site Recovery
- Service Alerts
More specifically, the Reliability Workbook identifies areas of improvement by checking the configuration of selected Azure resources using the resiliency checklist. For example, if you haven’t deployed a VM in an availability zone, you haven’t configured your backup, or you’ve missed anything else that might impact the recoverability of your workload, the Reliability Workbook will highlight it so you can address it.
The Reliability Workbook also allows you to scope your recommendations for a specific application using a set of filters for Subscription, Resource Group, Environment, and Tags. Use the filters to focus on the resources you care about the most. For example, use the Subscription filter to examine a workload spread across multiple subscriptions. Then, use the SLA and Help controls to get additional information. For example, “Show SLA” displays the service SLA, while “Show Help” displays best practice configurations to increase the reliability of the resource deployment. Finally, use the Reliability Workbook recommendations to do things like optimize your workloads, prepare for an important event, or mitigate risks after an outage.
Service Retirements Workbook
Product sunsetting is a natural part of the evolution of the Cloud. But it’s important to be aware of upcoming Azure service and feature retirements to understand their impact on your workloads. This service retirement information is crucial for helping you sustain operational continuity, access improved functionality and performance, mitigate security risks, future-proof applications and workflows, and ensure you build solutions on services with long-term support.
Until now, there hasn’t been a single pane of glass to view for all active deprecations for Azure. Instead, service retirements were communicated via direct email to subscription owners and admins through Azure portal notifications. We needed a central place where customers could see the personalized impact of multiple retirements with actionable migration information. The Service Retirement Workbook solves that problem.
The Service Retirement Workbook provides a single, centralized, resource-level view of 37 service retirements that may require action to mitigate (with more to be added soon). It also helps you assess the impact of those service retirements so you can evaluate options and plan to migrate off retiring services and features. You can view planned retirement dates, identify impacted resources, obtain the necessary information to make well-informed migration decisions, and understand how inaction will impact future costs.
Like the Reliability Workbook, the Service Retirement Workbook also includes several filters. You can use the Subscription, Resource Group, and Location filters to focus on a specific workload. You can also use the sorting function to find services that are retiring soon and will have the biggest impact on your workloads. And, you can use the export function to share the report with your team so you can plan migrations together.
Cost Optimization Workbook
To get the most out of your Cloud investments, you need to accurately manage your Cloud spend and reduce waste. The Cost Optimization Workbook is a centralized hub for tools that can help you improve and optimize costs. For example, the workbook will highlight any optimization opportunities available to you that you might not yet be taking advantage of.
You can use the Tabs function to focus your cost-reduction efforts in the areas of Compute (including Savings Plan), Azure Hybrid Benefit, Storage, and Networking. Use Filters to focus on a specific workload, apply a recommended optimization directly from the workbook, or share insights with your team.
The workbook offers a range of recommendations, including Azure Advisor cost reduction suggestions, management of improperly deallocated Virtual Machines, and identification of idle resources. For example, it will highlight any services you are paying for but not using. Additionally, the workbook provides insights into leveraging Azure Hybrid benefit options for Windows, Linux, and SQL databases.
In a nutshell, the Cost Optimization Workbook brings together all vital information about potential savings and opportunities for rate optimization and highlights tactical recommendations to help you understand how and where you can reduce spend. It can also automate waste reduction efforts by allowing you to add an automation button for use cases within compute, storage, and networking so you can take an iterative approach to reducing costs. Not only will the Cost Optimization Workbook provide you an opportunity to find potential savings, it can also help you funnel those savings back into improving your security or reliability.
Improving overall visibility with Azure Advisor Workbooks
The three new Azure Advisor Workbooks function as templates for optimizing the cost-effectiveness, reliability, and operational excellence of all your Azure workloads. The overarching benefit is improved visibility into your Cloud environment via a single pane of glass. Access to this holistic picture gives you greater control over your Azure environment. For example, as you add services to your Azure environment, the reliability of those services is paramount for meeting service-level agreements. But cost is a factor when optimizing for resiliency, so you must discover where to save elsewhere to fund those optimizations. And how will the retirement schedule for those services impact your costs down the road? A dashboard view of all your Azure subscriptions means you immediately see the impact and trade-offs of the recommended optimizations.
To learn more about the three new Workbooks, visit the Azure Advisor workbooks gallery.