Microsoft has been on a tear recently in adding new options and capabilities in Azure. The week was frantic with news, no-doubt due to the fact that Microsoft Ignite was happening. And like all of you (particularly those of you who, like me, were unable to attend this year ), I’ve been trying to keep up with the news. I’ll continue to sift through it all through the next week or two, and share what I think are the most interesting announcements here.
One thing that hit me is that, now matter how hot you think it is today, the cloud competition is heating up more and more each day. All major vendors are adding features and functions galore, for sure. And they’re also adding new pricing models and options to make “the cloud” more appealing for various scenarios or customer types. So, I thought in this article I’d briefly outline three new (or new-ish) ways that Microsoft is making Azure pricing more flexible, and even more affordable:
- Hybrid Cloud Usage Benefit
- Reserved virtual machine instances
- B-series burstable virtual machine sizes
As you may know, when you are using IaaS in Azure, and creating a virtual machine, you pick an image that you want to base it on. For example, if you want to run Windows Server 2016, you pick that image. If you want to create an Ubuntu Server 16.04 LTS VM, that’s the image you pick. You may have also noted that, even when run on the same VM size, the price of these machines is different.
I’ll tell you why: Because the compute-hours you’re billed for the allocated-and-running machine includes the cost of the operating system license. And, yes, Windows costs more than Linux. Nice, huh?
“But.. what if I already own a license for Windows Server?”
Bingo. Windows Server license with Software Assurance is transferrable to Azure. So if you already have the license, you can flip this switch.
Now your compute-hours will be greatly reduced because you’ll only be paying for the machine running, and not the OS running on it.
“But what if I’m not creating VMs from the Azure portal, but through the Azure CLI? Or PoweShell? Or an Azure Resource Manager template?”
Of course. There is a new “LicenseType” parameter that defaults to “None”, but can be set to “Windows_Server” to basically say, “I solemnly swear that I own the properly transferrable license for this new machine.”
In Azure CLI it looks like this:
az vm create … –license-type Windows_Server
In PowerShell, it’s the -licensetype Windows_Server parameter in the New-AzureRMVM cmdlet.
And in an ARM template, it’s a “licenseType”: “Windows_Server” entry in the “Microsoft.Compute/virtualMachines” / “properties” section.
B stands for “Burstable”
In preview and only available in a few regions at the time of this writing, this new B-series VM family “allows you to choose which VM size provides you the necessary base level performance for your workload, with the ability to burst CPU performance up to 100% of an Intel® Broadwell E5-2673 v4 2.3GHz, or an Intel® Haswell 2.4 GHz E5-2673 v3 processor vCPU.”
The idea here is that, perhaps you have a workload that is, for lack of a better term, “choppy”…
“What about ‘burstable’?”
Um.. okay.. that’s an even better term. Rather than using the CPU at a consistent capacity (which is easier to plan and then size appropriately for), the application or service doesn’t run fully, all the time. Instead, it needs higher CPU performance just now and then. So, either you end up buying a lesser machine and the application suffers during those bursts, or you’re buying machines that are big enough to handle the bursts, but otherwise wasting the capacity you’ve paid for.
The new B-Series addresses this by allowing you to choose a machine size with guarantees of a certain base CPU performance percentage, a MAX CPU performance percentage, and the ability to “bank” a certain number of “credits” per hour (up to a max bankable) when processing is low, and use those credits when the need arises.
Yes. T2 instances in AWS have become very popular, and this is obviously Microsoft’s answer to this.
Reserved Instances give you the ability to pre-dedicate capacity for a workload for either a one or three year commitment, and then save big bucks. You would use this to save money on something that is more predictable vs. a typical pay-as-you-go approach.
“Select and purchase RIs in three easy steps. Specify your Azure region, virtual machine type, and term (one or three years) and that’s it. Plan, implement, and execute against your desired workloads with prioritized datacenter capacity around the globe—ensure resources are available when and where you need them. ”
Microsoft claims that, if you combine the savings of paying for reserved capacity with the Hybrid Use benefit described above, you could save as much as 82 percent.
At the time of this writing, this is a feature that is “coming soon” to Azure. You can sign up for more information here.
It’s good to keep up on these updates, and use what you learn to save your company some money. (Thank goodness you found my blog! )
Click on the following links for more details on each of these 3 ways to save money in Azure:
- Azure Hybrid Benefit
- B-series burstable virtual machine sizes (preview)
- Azure Reserved Virtual Machine Instances (Coming Soon)
What do you think? Are you saving all you can in Azure? How does this compare to what other major booksellers or search provider vendors are doing? Share your comments!