At CloudBolt, we get questions every day from advanced DevOps engineers and technical managers about how to best optimize Microsoft Azure cloud spending. As Azure administration experts, their questions aren’t about the service functionalities but instead about the ever-expanding pricing models and the industry best practices to safely reduce their monthly bill without compromising service performance.

Public clouds gained popularity over the last decade mainly because of their simplicity and convenience; however, the basic Azure virtual machine gradually evolved to support multiple instance families, types, and versions, translating into hundreds of thousands of configuration permutations and purchasing plans.  The resulting complexity confuses even the most experienced cloud administrators.

There were over 1 million permutations as of the writing of this article

In this guide, we clarify the pricing options, summarize the concepts into tables and diagrams, and share industry best practices for safely reducing your spending.

We have created this guide to publicly share our responses to the most common questions involving popular Azure concepts such as migration, storage, spot, reservations, and SQL pricing.


Chapter 1: Azure Storage Pricing

Compare Azure storage types, storage accounts, and storage redundancy options to determine which combination works best for your organization.  

Chapter 2: Azure Reservations

Learn the difference between Azure’s reserved instances and reserved capacity offerings, VMs vs dedicated hosts, and commitment discount ranges based on one and three year terms. 

Chapter 3: Azure Spot

Determine if your use cases are a good fit for Azure’s Spot offering, its configuration options, and important VM limitations to consider.  

Chapter 4: Azure Migrate 

Understand Azure Migrate Service’s top four use cases and how your data gets replicated from VmWare, Physical Servers, and Hyper-V. 

Chapter 5: Azure SQL Pricing 

Discover which of the many Azure SQL permutations is a best fit for both your budget and your workload needs.

Chapter 6: Azure Backup Pricing 

Understand how Azure backup is priced, how you can optimize your spending while using its services, and read about its best practices and limitations. 

Chapter 7: Azure Advisor 

Find out how Azure Advisor implements Azure’s well-architected framework concepts, learn its best practices, and understand its shortcomings. 

Chapter 8: Azure NSG 

Learn about Azure Network Security Groups (NSG) capabilities, rule settings and enforcements, flow log best practices, and NSG’s limitations and shortcomings

Chapter 9: Azure FinOps Best Practices

Learn how to build a FinOps team and monitor spending with budgets and cost alerts to optimize Microsoft Azure financial operations for managed service providers.