Decommission Azure VMs: what are your options?

As businesses continue to migrate their infrastructures to the cloud, understanding the ins and outs of virtual machine (VM) decommissioning is crucial for optimizing performance, controlling costs and maintaining security.

This essential guide will walk you through several VM decommissioning methods, and shed light on the best practices and strategies to ensure a seamless and successful transition.

What are Azure VMs?

Azure Virtual Machines (VMs) are a fundamental building block of Microsoft’s cloud computing platform. They provide on-demand, scalable computing resources that allow users to run applications and workloads in the cloud without the need for physical hardware. 

Azure VMs offer a wide range of benefits, including flexibility, ease of use and cost savings, making them an attractive option for businesses looking to modernize their IT infrastructure.

Reasons for decommissioning Azure VMs

Decommissioning Azure VMs is an essential aspect of cloud resource management. There are several reasons why organizations might choose to decommission their virtual machines, including:

Cost optimization: Running Azure VMs incur costs based on their size, storage and usage. By decommissioning unused or underutilized VMs, businesses can significantly reduce their cloud expenditure and optimize resource allocation. This is particularly important for organizations operating on a tight budget or looking to maximize the return on their cloud investment.

Infrastructure changes: Organizations often restructure their IT infrastructure to adapt to changing business requirements or to take advantage of new technologies. Decommissioning Azure VMs may be necessary when migrating applications to different platforms, consolidating resources or upgrading to more efficient VM types.

Security and compliance: Ensuring the security and compliance of cloud resources is a top priority for many organizations. Decommissioning Azure VMs that are no longer needed or pose a security risk can help maintain a secure cloud environment and reduce the potential for data breaches or compliance violations.

Methods to decommission Azure VMs

Shut down the operating system

When it comes to Azure VMs, the shutdown process can be initiated from within the operating system, just like you would do on a physical machine. However, it’s important to note that merely shutting down the operating system does not completely decommission the VM. It only deallocates the resources and stops billing for the compute.

Use Powershell

PowerShell is a powerful scripting language that allows you to automate tasks and manage various resources, including Azure VMs. To get started, you’ll first need to install the Azure PowerShell module and connect to your Azure account. Once you have successfully connected to your account, you can use various cmdlets to perform the decommissioning tasks.

Use the Stop-AzVM cmdlet to stop the VM and deallocate its resources. This cmdlet requires you to specify the VM name and resource group name as parameters. Next, you can use the Remove-AzVM cmdlet to delete the VM, followed by the Remove-AzResourceGroup cmdlet to remove the associated resource group. It’s important to note that removing the resource group will also delete all the resources within it, so exercise caution before proceeding with this step.

Use an Azure CLI command

Similar to PowerShell, the Azure CLI is a powerful tool that allows you to perform various tasks and manage resources through a command-line interface. To get started with the Azure CLI, you need to install the CLI tool and sign in to your Azure account. Once you have successfully connected to your account, you can use various commands to perform the decommissioning tasks.

To stop and deallocate a VM, use the az vm stop command, followed by the VM name and resource group name as parameters. Next, use the az vm delete command to delete the VM, and the az group delete command to remove the associated resource group. Just like with PowerShell, removing the resource group will also delete all the resources within it.

Manual deallocation in Azure Portal

For those who prefer using the graphical interface of the Azure Portal, it is possible to manually deallocate and decommission Azure VMs. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to the Azure Portal and locate the desired VM.
  2. Click on the ‘Stop’ button to shut down the operating system and deallocate the VM’s resources.
  3. Once the VM’s status changes to ‘Stopped (deallocated)’, select the ‘Delete’ button to remove the virtual machine.
  4. Finally, navigate to the ‘Disks’ section in the Azure Portal and delete the associated storage disks.

Schedule VM auto shutdown

To further optimize cost and resource management, Azure provides an auto-shutdown feature for VMs. This feature enables you to schedule the automatic shutdown of your virtual machines at a specific time each day, helping to minimize the costs associated with running idle VMs.

To enable auto-shutdown for an Azure VM, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to the Azure Portal and locate the VM.
  2. In the ‘Settings’ section, select ‘Auto-shutdown’.
  3. Set the ‘Enabled’ toggle to ‘On’.
  4. Configure the desired shutdown time and time zone.
  5. Optionally, you can also configure a webhook URL to receive notifications before the VM is shut down.
  6. Click ‘Save’ to apply the auto-shutdown settings.

Decommission your Azure VMs with expert assistance

By understanding the differences between these methods, you can choose the most suitable option for your specific needs and optimize your cloud resources’ performance, control costs, and maintain security.

The Azure specialists at BCS365 can help you decommission your Azure VMs with the right method and tools for your specific requirements. Talk to them today and discover more.