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Microsoft Expands Virtual Machine Options for Azure

Microsoft announced a new virtual machine (VM) "D-Series" today that expands VM sizing options for organizations using Microsoft Azure cloud services.

The D-Series is described in Microsoft's announcement as being suitable for organizations that run "big data and analytics" or "data-intensive-type applications." 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.

The D-Series has 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.

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. Microsoft lists its Azure VM pricing at this page.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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