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I'm looking at the features available in Azure Dev/Test Labs that allow you to schedule daily start up and shutdowns for VMs, as well as the features to set quotas for VM counts and limit deployable VM types.

I want to know what would be the best way to achieve something similar for resource groups that aren't in the Dev/Test Labs Service.

My first instinct would be to approach this by using Azure Automation to manage shut downs and instance counts, and with DSC to maintain the desired instance types; but I am curious if there are any other options, and if so what positives/negatives there might be with picking them.

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You are right about using Automation. That's the best option to auto-start/shutdown VMs based on a schedule. If you only have a few VMs to manage, there's also the auto-shutdown feature in every VM. Otherwise, see below link for more details. This approach makes things a bit easier for you as you won't need to create a script from scratch:

Start/Stop VMs during off-hours solution (preview) in Azure Automation

As for defining quotas and limits, your best option is to use Azure ARM Policies. You can restrict what resource types, sizes and SKUs can be deployed. This can be applied to the subscription level or resource group level.

What is Azure Policy?

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