Ankur Mandal

Azure Infrastructure Management: Everything You Need To Know


Ankur Mandal

5 min read

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a fundamental component of cloud computing, alongside Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). IaaS provides instant access to vital infrastructure resources such as computing power, networking, and storage. These resources are managed and supplied by the service provider and delivered quickly over the Internet, eliminating the need for physical servers and on-site data centers. 

One of the leading cloud computing providers, Azure, offers IaaS service with remarkable features. However, it must be managed well to avoid escalating cloud bills. Read this blog to learn the basics of Azure IaaS and some tips for Azure IaaS management.

With IaaS, users oversee the operating system, applications, data, and middleware while the service provider efficiently handles the underlying Infrastructure.

In Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), you can create and manage virtual machine instances on a hypervisor provided by your service provider. This allows for remote provisioning of compute and storage resources as required. 

Furthermore, you can easily configure networking components such as routers, switches, load balancers, and firewalls using intuitive application programming interfaces (APIs). A centralized management console gives you complete control over your IT infrastructure while freeing you from the physical maintenance tasks commonly associated with traditional setups.

What is Azure IaaS?

Azure IaaS revolutionizes your IT infrastructure approach by transitioning from costly hardware ownership to a flexible rental model. It offers IaaS among the different categories of services. With Azure IaaS, you shift from traditional hardware procurement to a rental model, accessing IT infrastructure such as servers, virtual machines (VMs), storage, networks, and operating systems directly from Microsoft on a pay-as-you-go basis. This allows you to forgo upfront hardware investments and pay only for the resources you consume. 

Additionally, you retain control and responsibility for managing the operating systems, data, and applications, allowing you to customize your environment according to your specific needs and preferences.

Moreover, with Azure IaaS, you maintain complete autonomy over managing your operating systems, data, and applications. This level of control empowers you to tailor your environment precisely to your requirements, offering unmatched flexibility and customization options.

Use Case Of Aure IaaS

Azure IaaS can be used in the following scenarios.

  • Effortlessly Manage Storage, Backup, and Recovery: IaaS eliminates the need for substantial capital investment in storage infrastructure while simplifying the intricacies of storage management. By entrusting these tasks to the cloud, organizations evade the necessity of a specialized workforce to handle data management and ensure compliance with legal standards. IaaS seamlessly accommodates unpredictable storage demands and facilitates the management of backup and recovery systems, providing a scalable and cost-effective solution.
  • Streamline Web Application Deployment and Scalability: IaaS furnishes all essential infrastructure components for supporting web applications, encompassing storage, web servers, application servers, and networking resources. Organizations can swiftly deploy web apps on IaaS, with the added advantage of efficiently scaling infrastructure in response to fluctuating demand. This agility enables businesses to manage web applications efficiently, ensuring optimal performance and user experience.
  • Efficient Lift-and-Shift Migration: IaaS presents the swiftest and most cost-effective route for migrating applications or workloads to the cloud. This approach enables organizations to enhance scalability, performance, security, and cost-efficiency without necessitating a fundamental overhaul of their architecture. Businesses can leverage cloud benefits by seamlessly transitioning to IaaS while preserving existing functionalities and workflows.
  • Accelerate Test and Development Processes: IaaS empowers teams to swiftly establish and dismantle test and development environments, expediting the time-to-market for new applications. This agility enables organizations to scale dev/test environments as needed efficiently, optimizing resource utilization and minimizing operational costs. With IaaS, businesses can streamline the development lifecycle, fostering innovation and agility in application development.
  • Harness High-Performance Computing Capabilities: IaaS offers unparalleled capabilities for high-performance computing, facilitating the resolution of complex problems involving vast datasets and calculations. IaaS empowers organizations to tackle intricate challenges with precision and efficiency, from protein folding to climate modeling. By leveraging IaaS for high-performance computing, businesses can accelerate innovation and gain insights into diverse domains, ranging from scientific research to financial modeling and product design.

Advantages Of Azure IaaS

Azure IaaS has the following advantages

  • ​​Streamlines Cost Management and Resource Allocation: IaaS mitigates capital expenditures by eliminating the need to manage physical data centers, offering a financially prudent path for cloud migration. Leveraging pay-as-you-go subscription models, IaaS minimizes hardware and maintenance expenses, enabling IT teams to prioritize core business objectives.
  • Facilitates Global Scalability and Enhanced Performance: IaaS empowers seamless global scalability, effortlessly adapting to fluctuations in resource demand. Organizations can swiftly deliver services to employees regardless of location by distributing IT resources worldwide and optimizing application performance and user experience.
  • Ensures Robust Stability, Reliability, and Support: By relinquishing the responsibility of software and hardware maintenance and troubleshooting, IaaS ensures heightened stability and reliability. Providers guarantee infrastructure reliability through service-level agreements (SLAs), bolstering operational supportability and ensuring uninterrupted service delivery.
  • Strengthens Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery: IaaS offers cost-effective solutions for achieving high availability, business continuity, and disaster recovery, alleviating the financial burden associated with traditional approaches. Organizations can seamlessly access critical applications and data during disasters or outages with robust SLAs, ensuring uninterrupted operations.
  • Enhances Security Posture and Compliance: Cloud providers enhance security measures for applications and data through comprehensive service agreements, surpassing in-house security capabilities. By adhering to industry standards and regulations, IaaS ensures a fortified security posture, safeguarding organizational assets against cyber threats.
  • Accelerates Innovation and Time-to-Market: IaaS empowers organizations to swiftly innovate and deploy new products or initiatives by provisioning computing infrastructure within minutes or hours, eliminating the delays inherent in traditional setups. IaaS accelerates application delivery by streamlining infrastructure deployment, enabling organizations to rapidly reach end-users and capitalize on emerging opportunities.

Solutions Offered By Azure IaaS

Microsoft offers the following solutions as a part of its Azure IaaS system.

  • Compute: Azure Compute offers unparalleled scalability, enabling you to run both new and existing applications effortlessly. With Azure, you can deploy Windows or Linux virtual machines (VMs) in seconds and tailor them to your specifications. Simplifying the deployment and management of containerized applications and Kubernetes clusters, Azure facilitates rapid delivery, fortified by enterprise-grade security and on-demand scalability, all under a flexible pay-as-you-go pricing model.
  • Secure Storage Solutions: Azure delivers scalable and secure storage solutions tailored to meet the diverse needs of your applications, data, and workloads. Seamlessly integrate your on-premises and offsite data sources to extract actionable insights and drive business growth. With Azure storage, you can confidently address security and compliance requirements for your business-critical workloads, ensuring data integrity and reliability at every step.
  • Azure Networking: Azure networking sets the standard for performance, availability, and security, catering to the demands of your most mission-critical workloads. Seamlessly integrating with your existing network infrastructure, Azure provides end-users a consistent, low-latency experience worldwide. Whether spanning the globe or focusing on local operations, Azure networking ensures optimal connectivity and reliability for your business operations.
  • Azure Security Solutions: Azure adopts a zero-trust approach to security, safeguarding your applications and workloads with unparalleled rigor. Benefit from a suite of built-in security features, including robust backup and disaster recovery solutions, advanced threat protection powered by cutting-edge security intelligence, and unified security management across hybrid deployments. With Azure, you can rest assured that your assets are protected by industry-leading security measures, enabling you to focus on driving innovation and growth without compromising security.
  • Azure Management and Governance: Azure's comprehensive suite of management and governance tools streamlines the oversight of servers, Kubernetes clusters, and applications across hybrid and multi-cloud environments. From infrastructure and application management to resource provisioning, process automation, and policy enforcement, Azure offers a unified control plane for effortless management and optimization.
  • Azure Virtual Desktop: Azure Virtual Desktop enables secure remote access to Windows 10 and 11 desktops and applications from anywhere, ensuring productivity anytime, anywhere. Leveraging Windows 10 and 11 multi-session capability, Azure Virtual Desktop optimizes resource utilization and cost-effectiveness by accommodating concurrent users on a single deployment.
  • Hybrid and Multi-Cloud Solutions: Azure's hybrid cloud solutions empower organizations to harness the security and flexibility of both on-premises and multi-cloud infrastructure through a unified management console. By fostering innovation across hybrid, multi-cloud, and edge environments, Azure enables businesses to maximize existing investments and adapt to evolving needs seamlessly.
  • Azure High-Performance Computing: Azure HPC delivers all necessary computing, storage, and networking resources for running high-performance computing applications at a fraction of the cost of on-premises alternatives. By integrating next-generation machine learning tools, Azure HPC enhances simulations and decision-making processes, driving efficiency and intelligence in your operations.
  • Windows Server on Azure: Running Windows Server on Azure offers unparalleled cost savings, security enhancements, and seamless hybrid cloud operations. With Azure's native integration, organizations can streamline their Windows Server deployments while capitalizing on the benefits of cloud infrastructure.
  • Seamless Linux Support on Azure: Azure provides robust support for all major Linux distributions, offering a seamless native experience for running Linux-based applications and workloads. With Azure, organizations can leverage the flexibility and reliability of Linux across their entire infrastructure stack.
  • SAP on Azure: Partnering with Microsoft, Azure enables migrating and operating mission-critical SAP applications on the cloud, adhering to industry best practices and reference architectures. By leveraging Azure's robust infrastructure and services, organizations can optimize their SAP deployments for maximum efficiency and performance.
  • Azure VMware Solution: Azure VMware Solution simplifies the transition of VMware workloads to Azure, allowing organizations to enjoy Azure-native services while retaining familiar VMware management tools. By seamlessly integrating with existing VMware environments, Azure VMware Solution streamlines operations and unlocks new possibilities for innovation.

Effective Azure Infrastructure Management By Optimizing Resource Usage

As mentioned above, Azure IaaS offers different computing, storage, networking, and more solutions. These resource usage must be well optimized to balance cost and performance perfectly. Let us take a look at some of the ways to optimize Azure IaaS solutions.

Optimizing resource usage is essential for effective Azure IaaS management as it helps organizations achieve cost efficiency, scalability, performance, resource availability, and compliance. By implementing best practices for resource management such as those mentioned below, organizations can maximize the value of their Azure investments and drive business success in the cloud.

Cost Optimization Strategies

Implementing Azure cost optimization best practices can help you manage Azure IaaS effectively. You can also invest in Azure cloud cost management tools to ensure that cloud management does not come at the price of escalating cloud costs.

Optimize Virtual Machines

Achieve better control over your computing environment with Azure Virtual Machines, offering on-demand and scalable resources. To fully capitalize on the benefits, setting up your VMs correctly is crucial. Ensure the configuration is optimal, all software is installed accurately, and maintained through regular updates.

Enhance the performance of your Azure Virtual Machines by implementing strategies such as 'rightsizing,' utilizing VM scale sets, optimizing storage configurations, and taking advantage of Azure Spot VMs for cost-saving measures. By following these steps, you can maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of your VMs for improved results.

Optimize Storage Resources

The expense of storage plays a key role in the total cost of utilizing cloud services, as shown in the research study titled "State of Hybrid Cloud Storage in 2023" conducted by Virtana. It was observed that a significant 94% of participants experienced a rise in cloud costs, with 54% specifically pointing out that storage-related expenses increased more rapidly than other aspects of their bills.

 To further examine the impact of storage resources on cloud spending, we conducted a comprehensive independent analysis involving over 100 enterprises using prominent cloud providers such as AWS, Azure, and GCP.

Following our analysis, we noted the following key findings:

  • On average, storage-related costs accounted for around 40% of total cloud expenses, highlighting the significant financial impact of storage provisioning and management.
  • Block storage solutions such as AWS EBS, Azure Managed Disk, and GCP Persistent Disks significantly drove overall cloud costs. Our analysis suggests that closer examination and optimization of these solutions are necessary.
  • Despite the importance of block storage, our research revealed surprisingly low disk utilization rates across various use cases, including root volumes, application disks, and self-hosted databases. This inefficiency presents opportunities for rightsizing and optimization to reduce waste and enhance cost-efficiency.
  • During the study, it was observed that many organizations tended to miscalculate storage growth and provision excess resources, resulting in unnecessary expenses. However, participants acknowledged experiencing downtime incidents every quarter, highlighting the significance of aligning storage provisioning with actual demand to reduce risks and control expenses.

The reasons mentioned above are that organizations overprovision resources instead of optimizing storage. However, we understand the reason behind this deliberate practice, which are

  • Optimizing storage requires time and dedication: Storage optimization is a multi-step process that involves choosing the appropriate storage class, establishing data lifecycle management policies, and regularly monitoring and adjusting storage to meet specific needs.

DevOps teams must evaluate their current storage needs to effectively address application requirements, analyze data access patterns, and align storage resources accordingly. Thorough planning and ongoing maintenance are crucial for implementing cost-effective storage solutions, eliminating data redundancy, and ensuring efficient data retrieval.

In addition, DevOps teams should stay updated on advancements and enhancements offered by cloud providers. These can potentially enhance storage efficiency by utilizing new features. However, these tasks may require the DevOps team to allocate time and effort away from their main responsibilities, impacting productivity.

  • Custom Tool Development: The lack of advanced features provided by Cloud Service Providers (CSP) necessitates the development of a custom storage optimization solution. However, creating a bespoke tool requires significant DevOps resources and time commitment.
  • Expensive Investment: Implementing storage optimization strategies often requires investing in specialized tools, technologies, and expertise, which can be costly. This initial financial outlay can be a hurdle for many organizations, especially those with limited budgets or focusing on immediate cost savings. Additionally, deploying monitoring tools throughout the entire cloud infrastructure can be expensive, leading organizations to deploy them only in the production environment, resulting in limited visibility.
  • Problems with CSP Tools: Utilizing CSP-provided tools may lead to inefficient, time-consuming, and resource-intensive processes. The daily completion of such tasks becomes unfeasible due to the manpower required.
  • Absence of Live Shrinkage in CSP Tools: Major CSPs offer easy expansion of storage resources, but there is no live shrinking of Managed Disks. There is a manual workaround, but it involves complex manual steps like stopping the instance, taking snapshots, and mounting new volumes, increasing the potential for errors and misconfigurations.

Organizations are forced to allocate excessive storage resources to maintain the smooth operation of applications, impacting daily business activities.

Overprovisioning in cloud services results in resource inefficiency and unnecessary costs as you pay for unused resources. Addressing and reducing hidden costs is crucial, and automating the scaling of storage resources is a highly effective solution with cloud cost automation. Lucidity offers automated storage audit and scaling solutions to help reduce these unnecessary expenses.

Lucidity Storage Audit

The Lucidity Storage Audit tool simplifies the identification of overprovisioned and idle/unused storage resources through automation.

Automating this process is necessary due to the limitations of relying solely on manual discovery techniques or monitoring tools. DevOps activities can be labor-intensive, and the associated implementation costs can be high. The increasing complexity of storage environments can make manual discovery and monitoring tools inadequate to manage storage resources effectively.

Lucidity's Storage Audit solution offers valuable assistance in managing your storage resources efficiently. By simply clicking a button and utilizing automated identification solutions, Lucidity provides the following insights:

  • Overall disk spend: Understand your current disk expenditure, how much your optimized bill should be, and potential savings of up to 70% on storage costs.
  • Disk wastage: Identify and address idle/unused and overprovisioned disk space to optimize usage and reduce waste.
  • Disk downtime risk: Assess the possibility of downtime proactively to avoid any financial or reputational consequences.

Lucidity Storage Audit Benefits:

  • Streamlined Process: Lucidity Storage Audit streamlines the auditing process by automating tasks and eliminating the need for manual efforts or complex monitoring tools.
  • Comprehensive Insights: Gain a thorough understanding of disk health and utilization with Lucidity Storage Audit. This tool provides valuable insights to help optimize spending and prevent downtime by offering clear visibility into your storage environment.
  • Optimized Utilization: Analyze storage utilization percentages and disk sizes with Lucidity Audit. This information allows for informed decision-making to improve resource allocation and maximize efficiency.
Lucidity Block Storage Auto-Scaler

Automating scaling is now a critical requirement due to the drawbacks of traditional approaches to scaling storage resources. Inefficient resource allocation can result in over-provisioning, wasting valuable resources, and under-provisioning, leading to performance bottlenecks.

The Lucidity Block Storage Auto-Scaler addresses these challenges by offering an innovative cloud storage solution that revolutionizes traditional storage scaling methods. It automates the shrinkage and expansion of storage resources without any downtime or performance issues.

The Lucidity Block Storage Auto-Scaler has the following features

  • Effortless deployment: The Lucidity Block Storage Auto-Scaler can be deployed with three clicks. After onboarding, you will experience a game-changing improvement in your storage management process.
  • Storage optimization: The Block Storage Auto-Scaler automatically optimizes storage capacity to maintain a utilization rate of 70-80%, leading to significant cost savings.
  • Highly responsive: In the face of sudden spikes in traffic or workload, the Block Storage Auto-Scaler reacts promptly by providing additional storage capacity. With expansion capabilities that only take one minute, you can efficiently handle unexpected surges with minimal disruption, ensuring you always have the resources to meet high demands effectively. Additionally, it also shrinks the resources in periods of low activity.
  • Efficient Performance: The Lucidity solution is intricately crafted to have minimal impact on your instance's resources, such as CPU and RAM when being onboarded. Our highly optimized Lucidity agent is engineered to use only a small fraction of your resources, consistently running at less than 2% CPU and RAM usage. This deliberate design decision guarantees that your workload within the instance remains unaffected, allowing you to focus on your tasks without interruptions.

The Lucidity Block Storage Auto-Scaler offers the following benefits

  • Automated expansion and shrinkage: The Lucidity Block Storage Auto-Scaler effortlessly automates the adjustment of storage resources, ensuring efficient disk scaling within a concise 90-second timeframe. This simplifies the management of large data volumes. Our Auto-Scaler overcomes the limitations of traditional block storage volumes, which typically max out at around 8GB per minute (equivalent to 125MB/sec) with Standard block storage. Maintaining a robust buffer allows our Auto-Scaler to handle sudden data surges smoothly without exceeding the block storage throughput limit.
  • Achieve up to 70% Reduction in Storage Costs: Maximize your savings with Lucidity Block Storage Auto-Scaler. You can significantly reduce your storage expenses by eliminating the risk of overprovisioning. Cloud service providers only charge for the resources you use, allowing you to save up to 70% on storage-related costs.
  • Estimate Your Savings with the ROI Calculator: How much can you save on storage costs? Use our ROI Calculator to get a personalized estimate. Select your preferred cloud provider (Azure or AWS) and input your monthly or annual spending, disk utilization, and growth rate details.
  • Zero downtime: While manual provisioning processes often result in downtime, this is a non-issue with Lucidity Block Storage Auto-Scaler. By swiftly adjusting to changing storage needs, downtime is eliminated. 

Additionally, Lucidity provides a "Create Policy" feature allowing users to tailor policies to specific scenarios, including buffer or loading times. The Block Storage Auto-Scaler will seamlessly expand storage resources according to the defined policies.

We hope this blog has given you a fair understanding of Azure IaaS and its management. Implement the strategies mentioned above to gain comprehensive benefits from Azure IaaS's potential and keep it efficient.

If your cloud bill is suspiciously high, we suggest checking your storage usage with Lucidity. Reach out for a demo, and we will show you how automation can benefit your storage usage and optimization and help you save significant money.

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