Tag: Microsoft Azure

How to Reduce the Costs of your Azure IaaS VMs

How to Reduce the Costs of your Azure IaaS VMs

Azure Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offers significant benefits over traditional virtualization. With benefits like the possibility to quickly spin up a couple of virtual machine in any Azure region around the world whenever you need it, is pretty powerful. There are a lot more benefits to Azure IaaS virtual machines. However, that’s not part of this blog. This blog post is focused on helping you saving money by reducing the costs when you are using Azure IaaS virtual machines (VM). Some of the tips here will help everyone out there, some of the tips

Pick the right Azure VM series and the right Azure VM size

Reduce cost by picking the right Azure VM size

Reduce cost by picking the right Azure VM size

First of all, obviously, you pay more for larger virtual machines. Something I realized by working with a lot of customers is that they take the on-premises VM size and use the equivalent size in Azure. Not realizing that the VM size they had was way to oversized. But since they had the static capacity on-prem, they didn’t’ care. Now when you pay for more capacity in the cloud, the story is different. So make sure you realize that the Azure VM sizes are not oversized. You can still change the size later to a larger virtual machine if needed. And if you are looking at tools like Azure Migrate to migrate your existing VMs to Azure IaaS, you will have some additional advantages. Azure Migrate asses your environment and helps you pick the right Azure VM size depending on performance data history. Azure Migrate works with Hyper-V and VMware virtual machines, if you want to know more about Azure Migrate, check out my blog post. If you are already running the virtual machine in Azure, Azure Advisor can be helpful to figure out that your virtual machine is underutilized. Picking the right size will help you to save money and reduce the cost of Azure IaaS VMs.

To make it easier to pick the right size, Azure offers you different type or also called VM series. You can find a broad set of different virtual machine types in Azure, which give you a choice depending on your use cases, scenarios, and application needs. From general-purpose VMs, compute, memory or storage optimized, VMs with GPUs, and HPC workloads. You can find some documentation on the different VM types and sizes here.

Run them when you need them, shut them off when you don’t

Another great benefit of Cloud Computing and next to the large scale are the Pay-per-use options. If you don’t need a virtual machine, you can shut it down, and you are only paying for the existing storage, but not for the computing power anymore. This helps you with workloads, which will need to scale up and down using virtual machines. Or simply with virtual machines in test/dev environments or labs, which don’t need to run 100 percent of the time.

Commit and use Azure Reserved VM instances

Azure Reservations Reserved Instances and reserved capacity

Azure Reservations Reserved Instances and reserved capacity

Now, I know that shutting down virtual machines is excellent in theory if you have the right workloads and applications running in these virtual machines. However, what about the virtual machines which need to run 24h 365 days a year. For that, Microsoft has something called Azure Reservations, and if you are thinking specifically about Azure IaaS VMs, it is called Azure Reserved VM Instances (RIs). Azure Reserved Virtual Machine Instances can help you save money by pre-paying for one-year or three-years of virtual machines. Pre-paying allows you to get a discount on the resources you use. Reservations can significantly reduce your Azure IaaS virtual machine, SQL database compute, Azure Cosmos DB, or other resource costs up to 72% on pay-as-you-go prices. If you want to know more about Azure Reservations, check out my blog post about how to save money on Azure using Azure Reservations.

Using Economical burstable VMs

B-series are economical virtual machines that provide a low-cost option for workloads that typically run at a low to moderate baseline CPU utilization, but sometimes need to burst to significantly higher CPU utilization when the demand rises. If you want to know more about B-series Azure VMs, check out the following Microsoft Docs.

Azure Spot Virtual Machines for batch processing jobs with significant cost savings

With Azure Spot Virtual Machines (Spot VMs), you’ll be able to access unused Azure compute capacity at deep discounts, up to 90 percent compared to pay-as-you-go prices. Spot VMs are ideal for workloads that can be interrupted, providing scalability while reducing costs. Using Spot VMs allows you to take advantage of our unused capacity at a significant cost saving. At any point in time when Azure needs the capacity back, the Azure infrastructure will evict Spot VMs. Therefore, Spot VMs are great for workloads that can handle interruptions like batch processing jobs, dev/test environments, large compute workloads, and more. You get unique Azure pricing and benefits when running Windows Server workloads on Spot VMs. Spot VMs are currently in preview and you can find more about them on Microsoft Docs.

Leverage the Azure Hybrid Benefit

If you already have existing Windows Server and SQL Server on-premises licenses with Software Assurance, you can use them for Azure virtual machines (VMs). This will allow you to save the Pay-as-you-go cost for Windows Server and SQL Server licenses. The Azure Hybrid Benefit applies not only to Azure VMs but also on Azure SQL Database PaaS services and the Azure Dedicated Host. If you want to know more about how to take advantage of the Azure Hybrid Benefit, check out the Microsoft Azure Docs page.

Cost Management to Analyse your Spendings

Azure Cost Management

Azure Cost Management

With Azure Cost Management, you can monitor your cloud spending by tracking resource usage and manage costs across all your clouds with a single unified view. It also helps to analyze and optimize your cloud spendings and cloud efficiency. It gives you a transparent view across your organization and helps you to identify resources to optimize. Sonia Cuff wrote a great blog on Step-by-Step: Finding and Analyzing Microsoft Azure Cloud Usage Costs.

Reduce the Costs of your Azure IaaS VMs using Azure Advisor

Azure Advisor Recommendations

Azure Advisor Recommendations

Azure Advisor is a personalized cloud consultant that helps you follow best practices to optimize your Azure deployments. It analyzes your resource configuration and usage data to recommend solutions that can help you improve the performance, high availability, security, but also the cost-effectiveness of your Azure resources. It will recommend you to right-size or shutdown underutilized virtual machines, buy virtual machines reserved instances to save money over pay-as-you.go costs and much more. If you want to know more about Azure Advisor, you can check out the Microsoft Docs.

Select the right Azure region

Today, Microsoft Azure offers up more than 54 Azure regions worldwide, more than any other cloud provider. This has not only a massive benefit of having the capability of deploying Azure resources and virtual machines where ever you need them. But it can also help you to reduce costs. Not all Azure services are available in all Azure regions, and not all Azure services cost the same in every region. Azure resource prices can depend on operational costs and other factors in the specific region. Usually, you want to deploy your virtual machines as close as possible where you need them, and you place them in the specific Azure regions. However, if there is no need to deploy them within a particular region, you can run your VMs in the cheapest available regions to reduce the cost for your Azure virtual machines.

You can find a list of services and products available by region here.

Move services to PaaS and SaaS

Azure Migrate and modernize with cloud migration strategies

Azure Migrate and modernize with cloud migration strategies

This is obvious to many of you, but by analyzing your workloads running inside your virtual machines, you will find specific workloads that can be modernized to run on Azure Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) services or even migrate into a Software-as-a-service solution. For example, if you think about Exchange or SharePoint, instead of migrating these applications into Azure virtual machines, you can reduce costs by migrating to Office 365. Don’t understand me wrong. I know that modernizing applications can be a lot of work and can cost a lot of time and money. The Azure Migration Center gives you an excellent overview of your cloud migration journey, including assess, migrate, optimize, secure, and manage.

The Azure Migration Center also helps you with your cloud migration strategies. And it enables you to define your journey to the cloud. Migration and Modernization by rehosting, refactor or rearchitect, using cloud-native by rebuild or create new, or using SaaS and replace the existing application.

Receive free extended security updates for Windows Server and SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2

A year ago, Microsoft announced new options for SQL Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 end of support. Support for SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 already ended on July 9, 2019, Windows Server 2008, and Windows Server 2008 R2 followed on January 14, 2020. Customers who are still running Windows Server and SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 do have different options. First, migrate to a newer version like Windows Server 2019, or buy extended security support, or migrate your Windows Server and SQL Server workloads to Azure, to get free extended security updates for thee years. This offer not only works for virtual machines running on Azure but also running on Azure Stack Hub.

Conclusion

Many different ways allow you to save money and reduce the costs of your Azure IaaS VMs. If you combine, for example, Azure Reserved VM Instances, the Azure Hybrid Benefit, and the free extended security support for Windows Server and SQL Server, you will gain massive price reductions. Even if you are only following one of these tips, you might save a lot of money.



Azure Cloud Solutions Architect Podcast

Azure Cloud Solution Architects Podcast 11 – Azure Hybrid using Stack & Arc

I had the chance to be part of the Azure Cloud Solution Architects Podcast to talk about Azure Hybrid Cloud using Azure Stack and Azure Arc. Anand Kumar, who is a Cloud Solution Architect (CSA) at Microsoft, created a great podcast and already had a couple of great guests, like Sarah Lean or Mike Pfeiffer from CloudSkills.fm, on his podcast.

“Cloud Solution Architects” podcasts brings you the wealth of wisdom from solution architects across the globe working on azure solving critical business problems and changing the world with azure. We also talk to the human side and explore what it means to be successful in the cloud computing space.

In this episode we talk with Thomas Maurer who works as a Cloud Advocate in Microsoft. We talk about how Azure Stack helped his customer realize the value of Azure even when there were compliance need for the data not to leave the customer’s datacenters. Tom talks about how he keeps himself up to date with everything that’s happening in the Cloud world and his e-commerce website too.

You can find Azure Cloud Solution Architects Podcast Episode 11 here.



Top 20 Microsoft Azure Blogs

Feedspot Top 50 Microsoft Azure Blogs To Follow in 2020

The year 2020 just started and I already got some great news. My blog, ThomasMaurer.ch was again listed in the Feedspot Top 50 Microsoft Azure Blogs and Websites To Follow in 2020 as top 3. I am honored and happy to be on this list, next to other top Azure blogs and websites. This is the second time I am listed in the Feedspot Top Microsoft Azure Blogs list. The first time I was listed last year in 2019.

The Best Microsoft Azure Blogs from thousands of Microsoft Azure blogs in our index using search and social metrics. We’ve carefully selected these websites because they are actively working to educate, inspire, and empower their readers with frequent updates and high-quality information.

 

Subscribe to my blog:

As you can imagine you will find even more about Microsoft Azure on my blog in 2020. You can follow my blog on Feedspot or just check out my Subscribe page, to get my latest blogs. Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing my blog! If you have some topics or ideas I should cover in 2020, please let me know!



How to Learn Microsoft Azure in 2020

How to Learn Microsoft Azure in 2020

The year 2019 is almost over, and usually, we take the time to look back at the year and also to find some New Year’s resolutions for the new year. Why not take all that energy and prepare for the cloud computing era and advance your career by learning Microsoft Azure. In this post, I try to give you a quick look at how you can get started to learn Microsoft Azure in 2020.

Azure hands-on experience

There is nothing better than hands-on experience, so get started with a free Azure account. Your Azure free account includes a limited quantity of free services for 12 months. Within these limits, you have the flexibility to use the free services in various configurations to meet your needs.

Learn with Free Azure services

Learn with Free Azure services

To learn more, see the Azure free account FAQ

Create free Azure Account ☁

Create your Azure free account today and get started with 12 months of free services!

Microsoft Learn

Microsoft Learn

Microsoft Learn

Microsoft Learn was introduced at Ignite 2018 as a free learning platform for a lot of different Microsoft technologies, not just Azure. Microsoft Learn provides you with various learning paths depending on your job role or the skills you are looking for. Most of the learning paths give you a hands-on learning opportunity so that you can develop practical skills through interactive training. And it is free! You get instant in-browser access to Microsoft tools and modules, no credit card required.

Microsoft Learn 🎓

Up your game with a module or learning path tailored to today’s IT Pro, developer, and technology masterminds and designed to prepare you for industry-recognized Microsoft certifications.

Become Microsoft Azure Certified

Another great option to learn and verify your skills is to take Microsoft Azure certification exams. A couple of months back, I wrote a series of blog posts on why you should become Microsoft Azure certified, how you prepare for Microsoft Azure exams, and how you take and pass Microsoft certification exams. Taking the new role-based Microsoft certification exams will help you to find the right topics and structure to learn, depending on your current or future job role you are looking for.

Microsoft Certification

Earn certifications that show you are keeping pace with today’s technical roles and requirements.

If you are just getting started with Azure, have a look at the AZ-900 Microsoft Azure Fundamentals exam. You can also have a look at my experience with the different Azure exam certifications:

More resources to learn Azure in 2020

There are a couple of more resources I want to point you to, to get started and learn Microsoft Azure in 2020.

Azure Architecture Center

Azure Architecture Center

  • Azure Architecture Center – The Azure Architecture Center contains guidance for building end-to-end solutions on Microsoft Azure. Here you will find reference architectures, best practices, design patterns, scenario guides, and reference implementations.
  • Cloud Adoption Framework – The Cloud Adoption Framework is the One Microsoft approach to cloud adoption in Azure, consolidating, and sharing best practices from Microsoft employees, partners, and customers. The framework gives customers a set of tools, guidance, and narratives that help shape technology, business, and people strategies for driving desired business outcomes during their adoption effort. This guidance aligns to the following phases of the cloud adoption lifecycle, like Strategy, Plan, Ready, Migrate, Innovate, Govern, and Manage.
  • Azure Migration Center – Get all the tools and resources you need to migrate your apps, data, and infrastructure at your own pace, with confidence.
  • Azure Architecture Framework – A successful cloud solution requires to focus on these five pillars of architecture excellence: Cost, DevOps, Resiliency, Scalability, and Security. The Azure Architecture Framework helps you to build on these pillars.
  • Application architecture guide – The Azure Application Architecture Guide presents a structured approach for designing applications on Azure that are scalable, resilient, and highly available. It is based on proven practices that we have learned from customer engagements.
  • Azure Cloud Design Patterns – The Azure Cloud Design Patterns are useful for building reliable, scalable, secure applications in the cloud. Each pattern describes the problem that the pattern addresses, considerations for applying the pattern, and an example based on Microsoft Azure. Most of the patterns include code samples or snippets that show how to implement the pattern on Azure.
  • Azure Reference Architectures – The Reference Architectures are a set of recommended architectures for Azure. Each architecture includes best practices, prescriptive steps, and a deployable solution.
  • Architectural decision guides – The architectural decision guides in the Cloud Adoption Framework describe patterns and models that help when creating cloud governance design guidance.
  • Cloud Operating model – Establish an operating model for the cloud
  • Get started guide for Azure developers – The get started guide helps developers to get started with Azure and tools.
  • Azure Quickstart Templates – Deploy Azure resources through the Azure Resource Manager with community contributed templates to get more done. Deploy, learn, fork, and contribute back.
  • Code samples – Get started with Microsoft developer tools and technologies. Explore our samples and discover the things you can build.
  • Azure Hybrid – Learn about Azure Hybrid Cloud with features and services like Azure Stack, Azure Arc, and many more.
  • Azure for AWS Professionals – This article helps Amazon Web Services (AWS) experts understand the basics of Microsoft Azure accounts, platform, and services. It also covers key similarities and differences between the AWS and Azure platforms.
  • Azure Security – Learn about Azure and security
  • Azure compliance – Get an overview of compliance in Microsoft Azure, with more than 90 compliance offerings
  • Azure privacy – Learn more about Azure data privacy and protection.
  • Service Level Agreements (SLA) – Read the SLAs to learn about our uptime guarantees and downtime credit policies.
  • Azure pricing – learn about how Azure pricing works and how you can save costs and get the best value at every stage of your cloud journey.
  • TCO Calculator – Estimate the cost savings you can realize by migrating your workloads to Azure.
  • Azure Support Plans – Explore the range of Azure support options and choose the plan that best fits, whether you’re a developer just starting your cloud journey or a large organization deploying business-critical, strategic applications.

I hope these resources give you a great summary of how you can start learning Azure in 2020. If you have any questions, or you feel that some resources are missing, let me know in the comments. Also, subscribe to my blog to learn about the latest updates.



Reset RDP and Admin Password Azure VM

How to Reset RDP and Admin Password of an Azure VM

I think we all had that experience where we suddenly couldn’t use Remote Desktop Services (RDP) to access our Windows Server anymore. Luckily, if this happens to an Azure virtual machine (VM), we can use the VMAccess extension to reset the RDP configuration as well as the password of the Azure VM. You can reset the RDP configuration or the Azure virtual machine password using the Azure portal or Azure PowerShell.

Reset the administrator password of an Azure VM 🔓

To reset the password of an Azure VM, you can use the Azure portal or Azure PowerShell. If you take the portal path, log in to the Azure portal, go to the Azure VM, you want to reset the password. Under Support + Troubleshooting, click on Reset Password, and follow to the Reset Password wizard to update the credentials. Note that this is not supported for Active Directory Domain Controllers.

Reset Administrator Password of an Azure VM

Reset Administrator Password of an Azure VM

If you want to use Azure PowerShell, you can run the following commands:

$SubID = "SUBID" 
$RgName = "RESOURCE GROUP NAME" 
$VmName = "VM NAME" 
$Location = "LOCATION"
 
Connect-AzAccount 
Select-AzSubscription -SubscriptionId $SubID 
Set-AzVMAccessExtension -ResourceGroupName $RgName -Location $Location -VMName $VmName -Credential (get-credential) -typeHandlerVersion "2.0" -Name VMAccessAgent

This should help you to reset the password of an Azure Virtual Machine (VM) if you lost access to it. If you want to know more, read the following troubleshooting article on Microsoft Docs.

Reset RDP configuration 👩‍💻

If you can access your Azure Virtual Machine using RDP, you can reset the configuration, and this will enable Remote Desktop service in the VM and create a firewall rule for the default RDP port 3389. To reset the Remote Desktop Service (RDP) configuration, you again login to the Azure portal, select the virtual machine you want to reset the RDP configuration. Under Support + Troubleshooting, click on Reset Password, on the new blade select Reset configuration only, and click on update.

Reset Remote Desktop Services RDP of an Azure VM

Reset Remote Desktop Services RDP of an Azure VM

There is also an Azure PowerShell command available to do this:

$SubID = "SUBSCRIPTION ID" 
$RgName = "RESOURCE GROUP NAME" 
$VmName = "VM NAME" 
$Location = "LOCATION"
 
Connect-AzAccount 
Select-AzSubscription -SubscriptionId $SubID 
Set-AzVMAccessExtension -ResourceGroupName $RgName" -VMName $VmName" -Name "myVMAccess" -Location $Location -typeHandlerVersion "2.0" -ForceRerun

I hope this gives you an overview of how you can Reset your Remote Desktop Service of an Azure Virtual Machine (VM) if you lost access to it. If you want to know more, read the following troubleshooting article on Microsoft Docs. You can also use Azure PowerShell in Cloud Shell.

If you want to know more about how you migrate your virtual machines to Azure, check out my blog post about Azure Migrate.

 



Video Microsoft Ignite Live 2019 - Azure Stack Edge

Video Microsoft Ignite Live 2019 – Azure Stack Edge

At Microsoft Ignite 2019, I had the chance to interview different people across the Microsoft product groups on the Microsoft Ignite Live stage. In the next couple of weeks, I will share with you the links to the recordings of these videos. In this video, I was able to speak to Stephanie Krieger and Chris Dickens from the Azure Stack Edge team about the new AI on the edge with Azure Stack Edge, which was formerly known as Azure Data Box Edge.

Video: Azure Stack Edge

Azure Stack Edge is a cloud-managed edge computing appliance that you subscribe to as an Azure service and deploy locally. Join us to learn how you can use intelligent applications at the edge for quick insights from your data and then aggregate that data in the cloud for deeper analytics.

I hope this gives you a short overview of Azure Stack Edge. You can check out the following links to get more information:

Microsoft Ignite 2019 was a lot of fun, and you can also watch my session about Hybrid Cloud Management at Microsoft Ignite. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.