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Microsoft Azure Credits are a great way to fund your initial start in the cloud. Startups often receive them as part of sponsorship programs. Enterprises may receive these credits as part of larger cloud adoption initiatives for training. These credits help you and your organization to know the cloud without spending tons of budget (yet).

However, it is easy to overlook some pitfalls of these Azure credits programs that can come costly in the future.

Are you considering, or even already using Azure credits in your organization? Then this blog post is for you!

In this blog post, we will explain the pitfalls that you might run into when using Azure credits and how to mitigate the risk associated with them.

1. Blindly giving out cloud access

You have got your Azure credits confirmed & what’s next? Finding cloud users of course! It is very tempting to give out cloud access to anyone in the organization that is interested because they will not cause any cost anyway, right?

If you do give out cloud access without any information on what it is going to be used for, your cloud landscape can quickly turn into a wild west situation. You do not know why people are using Azure and are increasingly exposing your organization to zombie workloads that are causing costs without providing any business value. Shutting it down will also not work since you might be killing some critical applications.

Track who is using the cloud and for what purpose

Of course, you shouldn’t make it difficult for DevOps teams to request cloud access, but it would be good to have at least an idea of what the teams are going to use the cloud for. Are they just going to play around with Azure for learning? Are they planning on running productive applications that are critical for the business?

Ask these kinds of questions when a DevOps team wants a new Azure cloud credit project. It helps to maintain an overview of the purposes of the different cloud projects. In short: start building a Cloud Tenant Database from day one.

Start Building Your Cloud Foundation!

Use the free Cloud Foundation Maturity Model to build up a small cloud foundation team with fundamental capabilities. The “Playground Environments” building block is a great start for handing out cloud accounts in a risk-free way.

2. Turning a blind eye to cloud costs

It is very easy to ignore the cost aspect when Azure credits. I mean, it is free after all, right? This is a very common pitfall. By leveraging the free Azure credits, you easily lose track of what a cloud project would cost when you would be using it after the sponsorship ends. You’re effectively navigating blindly and do not know what the return on investment is for the applications that are built on the cloud. This makes it even harder to decide on the usage of the cloud in the end.

Closing your eyes to cloud costs covered by azure credits leads to an expensive wake up call when the azure credits run out.

Do proper cloud cost management from day one

Even though the actual usage of the cloud with Azure credits is considered free, it is highly recommended to already do some high-level analysis on the “costs” that each cloud project is incurring.

All cloud providers have options to export cost information into various formats. Use this to get a holistic overview of the costs that the organization is making in the cloud platform across all projects and services. Our open-source multi-cloud CLI can take care of this for you.

These exports can be used to cut them up into single reports per cloud project. Send these reports over to the teams, so that they get better aware of what costs all their cloud usage is incurring. An effective cloud cost management only happens if you align management and the teams.

As a bonus, by incorporating a solid cloud cost management process from day one, you also enable the organization to make the most out of the Azure credits. This is what cost management is effectively all about: saving costs.

3. Leaving the cloud after the Azure credits expire

There is the day that you dreaded. Your Azure credits came to an end. From this day forward, your organization has to pay the standard rate for using Microsoft Azure. If this day came by surprise (which it usually does, as Azure credits can last for years), you might just shut down the usage of cloud in general as you have no idea which cloud projects should keep running and which ones should not.

Prepare for a future without Azure credits

Ideally you handle the cloud as if you would use it without any Azure credits. Assemble a small team that will specialize in setting up cloud usage for the rest of the organization. Keep a clear overview of who is using cloud projects, and what budgets might be responsible for the actual costs coming out of the cloud platform. Use the tips mentioned in the previous paragraphs to come up with a solid post-credits cloud plan.

It would be such a waste to see all the effort and learnings that went into the use of cloud with Azure credits go to waste. We believe that every organization can benefit massively from the use of the cloud, so make sure that there is a plan even after the Azure credits have expired.

Build a Cloud Foundation

As you can imagine, there are quite some responsibilities that come with running the cloud in the organization.

We recommend building a small cloud foundation team that takes care of solving the related problems with integrating the cloud and driving the usage of the cloud in your organization.

By using our Cloud Foundation Maturity Model, you can adapt some level 1 building blocks around cloud tenant management and cost management that will lift your cloud foundation team to the minimum level. This makes sure that you are ready for the cloud, even after the Azure credits end.

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