[Video] Comparing Azure cost management tools with an Azure MVP

Comparing Azure cost management tools with an Azure MVP

Microsoft Azure MVP and cloud solutions architect Stephane Lapointe (@s_lapointe) weighs the pros and cons of three Azure cost management solutions in our video.

You know that keeping your Azure costs under control is important, but you’re not sure what cloud cost solution to use to do that. I get it, and I’ve been there.

That’s why I wanted to tell you a bit about my own journey managing Azure costs and what we’ve learned from clients. I’ll also consider three common Azure cost management solutions and look at the pros and cons of each of them.

One of the main issues facing IT departments in 2020 is unchecked cloud spending. Learn how to identify cloud waste, stop the bleeding, and build an Azure cost management strategy for your whole team in our upcoming webinar.

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WEBINAR | DEC. 8, 2020

Stop wasting money in Azure:

Build an efficient Azure cost management strategy for your business
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Read the transcript

What’s in this video

Hi, I’m Stephane Lapointe. I’m Microsoft Azure MVP and cloud solutions architect at ShareGate. There’s a lot of different ways that you can get visibility over your cloud costs.

Microsoft has a free tool, Azure Cost Management, or ACM, that provides you with lots of spending data.

If you’re a developer, you might also be thinking that you could build your own Azure cloud platform, which offers you the flexibility to customize what information you want to inspect.

Then, of course, there are tools like ShareGate Overcast, which is an Azure cost intelligence tool that analyzes your data to provide you with insights so you can run the most efficient cloud infrastructure possible.

In this video, I’ll talk about the pros and cons of these three different options to help you figure out which one might work best for you. So follow me. We’ll take a look at those three options.

Why do you need an Azure cost management tool?

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Spending several hours a week to check resources, their metrics, the cost, trying to pinpoint exactly where I need to put my attention and focus and try to improve things in my Azure environment, this is very, very time-consuming.

So, we searched for the right tool. At the time, we didn’t find any tool that was fitting our needs, and the tools that existed often were charging a percentage of your Azure consumption, which is something I really dislike and I didn’t want to go that route.

Then we decided to create ShareGate Overcast, and it was for our own internal needs so that it can free up my time and I can concentrate on something that is more important to the business than doing all those manual checks.

What is Azure Cost Management?

Then came Azure Cost Management. So, roughly two years and a half after we decided to create ShareGate Overcast and put it commercially available (because we thought we had something with the ShareGate Overcast software and we were really proud of the product), ACM came out.

And it was about time, because it was a missing piece in the Microsoft offering. And it did great actually. It gives you a lot of visibility over your costs. Not much about insights, but this is something we will talk about a little bit more in the video. But at least you have something. You’re able to see your cost data and you’re able to inspect the bits you want.

Microsoft’s Azure Cost Management, let’s you see and query all of your Azure cost data.

With the different discussions we have with clients, one of the things I often hear is, “Hey, there’s ACM for free. Why should I need ShareGate Overcast?” And there’s no right or wrong answer. It’s really what you’re trying to achieve.

ACM allows you to dig into your cost data and will give you a lot of options; filtering, grouping, etc., but you really need to know what you’re looking for and what you’re after.

It won’t give you that much proactive insight and things like that. So you really need to know what you’re look for. Basically, you’re looking at charts, and there’s a lot of flexibility around what options you have to show different angles for those charts.

But, yeah, so I tend to think that with a lot of flexibility comes a great deal of complexity, and I think it’s a little bit the point at the moment with ACM. So it’s very flexible, but you really need to know what you’re looking for and what you’re trying to achieve and what information you’re after.

I’m a developer, can’t I just build an Azure cost management tool myself?

“I can do it myself,” that I heard a lot from customers. And trust me, I’ve been a developer for 16 years, I’m more on the architecture side now and automation, etc., but I was a dev for more than 16 years, and I know that reflex. I know that, “I’m a craftsman, I can build it myself.”

And even at the beginning of ShareGate Overcast, I was doing this, creating script, writing code in my preferred programming language in order to create that tool that will save me time doing those manual checks, checking Azure metrics, resource metrics, etc. But in the end, it takes a lot of time.

I also tried Power BI. “Oh, okay, there’s a couple of graphs I can improve, the report aspect of it, to get more visibility.” So, yes, you can do that. But you still need to design and come up with the visual, and they will remain graphics only and not that great an experience to solve problem.

You can build Power BI dashboards to view your cloud cost information.

Like in ACM or other tools, it shows you your info but doesn’t give you much insight or exactly what you’re looking for.

You can always plug your cost data into AI yourself. It is doable, probably way more complicated than you expected. And what will be the end experience? Like I said, probably static data, not a great UX. But still, you can do it.

What is ShareGate Overcast?

ShareGate Overcast automatically gives you insights into your cloud cost, identifies cost issues, and gives you the details you need to make in order to make quicker and better-informed decisions.

ShareGate Overcast analyzes your Azure spending to give you insights into how efficiently you’re working in Azure and if there’s unusual activity in your spending.

The ShareGate Overcast overview offers a snapshot of your Azure spending, cost optimization opportunities, and cost variations.

Why do insights matter? Let’s look at an example

We have something called anomaly detection that will scan your Azure cost data automatically for you, and it will just save you the burden and time to check all those curves and metrics. To say to you, “Hey, there’s something wrong there. Compared to yesterday, there’s a big spike that needs your attention.”

And so you don’t need to do all those manual checks all the time now. You just leave it to ShareGate Overcast software, to the anomaly detection, and you will have a lot of great insights on what to concentrate and investigate.

The affected resource’s name, type, resource group, and subscription will all be there in your data. So the usual spending versus the average spending over the past 30 days, the last action taken on the resource, and who initiated, so the resource owner, who we think is the resource owner, and other related meters for the past 30 days.

ShareGate Overcast’s anomaly detection automatically alerts you when it finds a spike in your Azure spending and gives you all the info you need to troubleshoot the issue.

So, basically, ShareGate Overcast shows you where to focus your attention so you can fix issues before they become even bigger problems for your business.

For sure, you can build your own tools, let’s say, using anomaly detection API from Microsoft, plug in your Azure cost here and there, but honestly, it is very not trivial. It will take you days, if not several weeks, to build something like this, and basically, it will only give you the spikes and the anomaly. You won’t have a complete experience like something like we have in ShareGate Overcast.

That feature took our dev team almost two months to build. So, again, your choice, but I’m pretty sure you have something better to do in your business to bring value than trying to come up with the next anomaly detection engine.

In ShareGate Overcast, anomaly detection just works out of the box. So, you can always go to ACM, export your data, analyze it yourself, most likely by building custom Power BI reports and spending a lot of time manual checking those anomalies, but it will still be very time-consuming.

Which Azure cost management tool is right for you?

To recap, all three of these options can help you find information about your Azure spending, but they do it in different ways.

ACM has a ton of data and lets you get very granular, but you really need to know what you’re looking for even before you start querying your data.

Building your own cloud cost tool might save you the money on the purchasing side of a product, but it will cost you a lot of time and effort. And we don’t even talk about maintenance here. And it will probably only give you static data, so you still have to do the analysis yourself.

ShareGate Overcast scans your Azure environment daily to give you insights on your past, current, and forecasted spending, and it gives you the rich contextual data to fix issues right away so they don’t become bigger problems in the future.

Best of all, it has both Free and Premium plans so you can try it out today without making any commitment or having any risks.

So, thank you so much and happy cost saving!

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