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Azure Adds VM Sizing Options

Microsoft adds a new series of VMs to its Azure cloud service for companies running big data, analytics or data-intensive applications.

Microsoft announced a new series of virtual machine options for its Azure cloud service aimed at organizations that run "big data and analytics" or "data-intensive-type applications."

Microsoft's new D-Series VMs come in eight offerings, based on cores, memory and storage. Virtual core options range from 1 to 16 cores. Memory options range from 3.5GB to 112GB. Local SSD storage options range from 50GB to 800GB.

These VMs are "40 percent to 50 percent faster" than Microsoft's earlier VM offerings. In addition, users can "double the memory to core ratio" by using the D-Series. The new VMs also tap solid-state disks (SSDs) with "up to five times faster disk performance," according to Kenaz Kwa, a program manager for the Azure compute runtime at Microsoft. He laid out all of those details in this Microsoft-produced Channel 9 video.

Prior to the release of the D-Series, Microsoft's most compute-intensive VM Azure offering was its A9 plan, which provides 16 virtual cores, 112GB of memory and 382GB disk size. The A9 plan is similar to the Standard D14 plan, except that the D14 plan offers 800GB of SSD storage. The D14 plan is said to be "approximately 60 percent faster than our A-Series VM sizes," according to Microsoft's announcement.

There's a cautionary note, though, about using local SSDs with the D-Series. These SSDs are "not guaranteed to be persistent," meaning that the data "may be lost" if there's a hardware failure. Consequently, the SSDs are best used with "workloads that replicate across multiple instances," such as MongoDB. They are also best used with database management solutions that can handle a high-input/output disk as a "local and temporary cache," such as the "buffer pool extension" feature in SQL Server 2014. The buffer pool extension feature is designed to improve the database's read latency; it's a feature that can just be turned on, according to Microsoft's announcement.

The D-Series VMs are currently available for the Virtual Machines and Cloud Services Azure offerings across the United States, Europe and Asia. At press time, pricing for the D-Series VMs wasn't available.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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