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Gain insights from Azure Advisor recommendations

Microsoft's Azure Advisor service offers recommendations based on five categories. Learn these categories and the roles they play in a cloud management strategy.

Azure Advisor may be just the tool you need to optimize Azure workloads to meet reliability, cost, security and other goals. The service offers recommendations about cloud configurations and targets five key deployment goals: reliability, security, performance, cost and operational excellence.

Azure Advisor is an automated tool. While its recommendations are personalized, the tool that provides them isn't personal.

How to use Azure Advisor

Azure Advisor is a fully managed SaaS tool, so you don't need to install anything to use it. Sign into your Azure portal and in the menu choose All services > Advisor to access the tool. If you have an Azure account, you can use Azure Advisor without paying any fees. However, a business might incur costs if it acts on the suggested recommendations.

Azure Portal screen where users can access Azure Advisor through the search bar
Access Azure Advisor by searching advisor in the All Services menu

5 types of Azure Advisor recommendations

Azure Advisor provides recommendations in five major categories. Each category aligns with a type of optimization goal that cloud customers are likely to pursue.

1. Reliability

Advisor's reliability recommendations focus on helping customers ensure their workloads remain operational to achieve business continuity.

Advisor can alert you to cloud data that isn't configured for automatic backup. Without those automated backups, you run the risk of accidental deletion or temporary unavailability of cloud data.

Similarly, Advisor can detect application gateway instances that help control traffic for mission-critical workloads but that are improperly configured for fault tolerance.

You can ignore the reliability recommendations for workloads that aren't mission-critical, such as those run for testing purposes. In cases where your business depends on a certain workload that's not configured for optimal reliability, Azure Advisor can help you improve the configuration. The nature and specificity of the guidance will vary depending on the nature of the bad configuration. For instance, if Advisor thinks your workloads aren't well configured for fault tolerance because there's only one application gateway instance, it could tell you how many instances to add to reach an acceptable level of reliability.

If Advisor determines that you're not backing up data, the advice will be less specific. It will most likely simply tell you to back it up.

2. Security

Although it shouldn't be the only security tool you use, Azure Advisor can provide security recommendations that help to close gaps in your cloud configuration.

Azure Advisor integrates with Microsoft Defender for Cloud, a separate tool, to deliver security recommendations. Defender for Cloud can detect a wide variety of risks, such as networking configurations that expose applications to unnecessary traffic or known vulnerabilities that threaten your Azure workloads. This enables an organization to update the configurations and mitigate the risk of attack.

3. Performance

Performance recommendations in Azure Advisor are designed to ensure that workloads are as responsive as possible.

The performance recommendations in Azure Advisor are designed to ensure that workloads are as responsive as possible.

One way Advisor does this is to identify libraries that are out of date; newer versions can address performance troubles. Advisor also detects places where you may want to employ special Azure service configurations. Premium Storage, for example, is a storage tier that hosts data on SSD drives to deliver faster data access. With these configurations, you can improve the performance of workloads that are about to max out under standard configurations.

As with the reliability guidance, you can ignore the performance recommendations for workloads where high performance isn't a priority or where the additional cost to improve performance isn't worth it.

4. Cost

Cost recommendations can help an organization reduce its spending without sacrificing performance and reliability.

A key to this type of cost optimization is VMs. Advisor identifies unneeded VM instances that you can shut down and stop paying for. It also recommends less expensive types of VM instances that would meet your workload's requirements.

Because the cost recommendations target VM instances, they're not useful if you need to reduce the cost of other types of workloads, such as databases or object storage services. For now, cost-optimizing those workloads requires manual evaluation.

5. Operational excellence

Operational excellence recommendations help ensure your configurations align with standard cloud best practices so you're able to pursue efficiency and meet business-specific requirements.

Advisor can point to monitoring services, such as Traffic Analytics. You may want to turn these services on to ensure visibility into your cloud environment. Advisor can also provide guidance on the Azure Policy service. This enforces requirements specific to your organization, such as the need to host workloads within certain geographic regions.

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