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Azure SQL database cost optimization to maximize savings

Dhanasuya Guruswamy

8 Mins Read | Published on Sep 8, 2023

Azure SQL database cost optimization to maximize savings

Azure SQL is a versatile and powerful database service, and it is an increasingly popular choice for storing and managing application data due to its scalability, high availability, security, and simplicity of integration. A common demand for cloud workloads is cost optimization. To maximize cloud savings, this article discusses Azure SQL Database Cost Optimization.

Azure SQL Database pricing tiers

Azure SQL Database offers several services and compute tiers with different pricing options. It involves a vCore-based purchasing model and a DTU-based purchasing model.

vCore-based purchasing model

This purchasing model chooses between a provisioned compute tier, billed per hour, and a serverless compute tier, billed per second. You can also select the hardware configuration. The model includes three service tiers: General Purpose, Hyperscale, and Business Critical.

DTU-based purchasing model

This model offers a straightforward approach to provisioning and managing compute resources. It provides three service tiers: Basic, Standard, and Premium. The pricing is determined by the selected tier and the number of DTUs allocated to the database.

How to optimize Azure SQL Database cost?

Azure SQL Database (except for serverless) is billed at a predictable hourly rate. You are charged for the highest service tier chosen, provisioned storage, regardless of consumption or if the SQL database was active for less than an hour.

It is essential to monitor and optimize your database usage regularly. Here are some ways to save costs when using Azure SQL Database:

  • Right-size your resources: Choose the appropriate service tier and performance level for your workload. Consider the required computing and storage resources and select the most cost-effective options based on your application’s performance needs.
  • Monitor and optimize resource utilization: Regularly monitor your Azure SQL databases’ performance and resource utilization. Identify any underutilized or overprovisioned resources and make necessary adjustments to optimize costs. Azure Monitor and Azure SQL Analytics can provide insights into resource utilization.
  • Consider reserved capacity: Azure SQL offers reserved capacity pricing, where you can pre-purchase compute capacity for a one- or three-year term. This can result in significant cost savings compared to on-demand pricing, especially for long-running workloads.
  • Implement auto-pause and auto-scale: Azure SQL databases can be configured to pause during periods of inactivity automatically and automatically scale up or down based on workload demands. This allows you to pay only for the needed resources, reducing costs during idle periods.
  • Use serverless options: Azure SQL Database serverless is cost-effective for sporadic or unpredictable workloads. It automatically scales compute resources based on demand and charges you based on the actual compute used per second.
  • Optimize data storage: Evaluate the data storage requirements of your Azure SQL databases. Remove any unnecessary data and implement data compression techniques to reduce storage costs. Additionally, consider using Azure Blob Storage for storing large, infrequently accessed data to save costs.
  • Implement query and index optimizations: Review and optimize your database queries to reduce resource consumption. Ensure that appropriate indexes are in place to improve query performance and reduce the need for excessive computing resources.
  • Consider database consolidation: If you have multiple databases with low utilization, consider consolidating them into fewer databases to save costs. However, be mindful of performance considerations and ensure that consolidation does not impact your application’s performance.

Save Azure SQL Database costs with Serverless360

Even as the economic climate improves, pursuing cost reduction is an ongoing endeavor, with cost-conscious customers seeking a solution that preserves the quality of their existing business processes. Serverless360 emerges as a valuable solution for achieving effective Azure SQL database cost optimization.

The Serverless360 Cost Analyzer is a one-stop holistic solution that provides a wide range of capabilities related to cost management. It offers extensive Azure cost analysis across Azure subscriptions, environments, and teams, giving users the necessary insights into expenditure.

The following capabilities in Serverless360 will help users optimize the Azure SQL cost.

  • Analysis
  • Monitoring
  • Optimization scheduler
  • Right-sizing

Save high costs by leveraging Serverless360’s Cost Analyzer, which provides optimization and right-sizing capabilities, enabling you to maximize your resources while maximizing cost savings.

Analysis in Serverless360 Cost Analyzer

Analysis in Cost Analyzer lets you explore and analyze actual and amortized costs across multiple subscriptions. You can delve into your costs and gain valuable insights with various chart types and filtering options. A view is a customizable report summarizing and allowing you to drill into costs.

There is always a need to analyze the cost of your SQL server, and understanding the cost breakdown can shed light on which databases are consuming the most budget. You can also drill down to the respective SQL Database you’re looking for. These views can be customized to meet your needs and saved for future reference. Furthermore, if you frequently access a particular view, you can pin it for quick and easy access.

In these views, you’ll be presented with comprehensive information such as the total cost and cost breakdowns based on different entities like subscriptions, resource groups, locations, resource types, resources, and tags. You can drill down into the costs to better understand the underlying details.

Analysis in Serverless360 Cost Analyzer

Additionally, the Cost Analyzer can clone views and compare them. The comparison view allows you to select two different time ranges for cost analysis. You can utilize the Table chart type to ascertain the cost differences of your databases between these time ranges. The analysis also allows you to monitor a specific view of your desired time range.

Monitoring in Serverless360 Cost Analyzer

Gain visibility into the Azure cost trend and set up monitoring with proactive alerts to manage and mitigate the potential spikes in your Azure cost. In Cost Analyzer’s monitoring, you can create monitors with specific intervals and define rules based on the needed subscriptions and filters.

Keep track of the cost of your SQL Database and get notified whenever the spending exceeds a particular budget. The Budget section within the rule configuration provides a cost trend for the selected database, based on which you can define a budget for your rule. Alternatively, you can configure the budget difference based on the trend of cost differences.

Monitoring in Serverless360 Cost Analyzer

To ensure timely notifications, you can configure recipients and choose notification channels to receive alerts whenever your SQL database cost exceeds the predefined budget. This allows you to investigate the cause of increased expenses immediately. Utilize the calendar view that provides a historical summary of alert statuses, pinpointing the precise date and time of cost spikes.

Optimization in Serverless360 Cost Analyzer

Cost Analyzer’s deep visibility and optimization intelligence will help eliminate cost overruns.

High costs can accumulate even during off-business hours if the SQL database goes unnoticed. You can optimize costs and avoid excessive expenses by appropriately scaling the database to the required tier during non-operational periods. This ensures you only pay for the necessary resources, minimizing unnecessary costs.

Optimization in Cost Analyzer allows you to create optimization schedules by setting up the specific up and down hours and respective tiers for scaling associated resources during different hours of the week.

Optimization in Serverless360 Cost Analyzer-1

You can associate the SQL database for which the cost must be optimized. You can customize the settings by choosing the appropriate service and compute tier for the up and down hours. Choose the tier that best suits your needs. An inappropriate or misconfigured service can adversely impact the cost. For example, in the DTU-based purchasing model, you might opt for the Premium tier during up hours for better performance and the Standard tier during the down hours to optimize cost.

Upon changing the tier, you will observe the estimated cost. After successfully configuring the up and down configurations, you can view the optimized cost and the potential cost savings achieved upon creating the schedule.

Optimization in Serverless360 Cost Analyzer-2
Optimization in Serverless360 Cost Analyzer-3

By doing so, you will be pleased to find your resources automatically scaled down to the selected tier during the respective down hours. This stops you from overspending and ensures you pay only for what you need. Optimization, therefore, plays a crucial role in allowing the SQL Database to operate efficiently at a lower cost.

Rightsizing in Serverless360 Cost Analyzer

Right size your resources to avoid unnecessary cost expenses. Cost Analyzer’s Rightsizing regularly analyses the resource usage and provides the following types of recommendations for your Azure resources within the scope of the selected subscriptions based on their usage: 

  • Downgrade – This recommendation applies to a resource that often fails to utilize its maximum capacity. Downgrading the resource to a lower SKU will reduce the cost.
  • Upgrade – This recommendation suggests that resources often consume the maximum capacity of the purchased SKU. Upgrading it to a higher SKU will enhance its performance.
  • Idle – The resources not being used for an extended period are marked as ‘Idle’ and can be deleted if no longer required.
  • No change – The resources that frequently utilize the average capacity of the SKU are marked with a ‘No change’ tag.

Rightsizing in Serverless360 Cost Analyzer

Get recommendations for your SQL Databases and right-size them to the recommended SKU to optimize the cost. You can perform right-sizing by applying the Recommended SKU directly or choosing one manually from the list of supported SKUs.

Conclusion

While Azure SQL Database comes with significant costs based on the chosen tier, substantial savings can be achieved by following the best practices covered in this blog post. In addition, utilizing advanced functionalities such as optimization, rightsizing, vigilant monitoring, and analysis offered by Serverless360’s Cost Analyzer helps in Azure SQL database cost optimization.

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