Microsoft: Our New Azure G-Series Virtual Machines Are Public Cloud's Largest

When it comes to the size of virtual machines in the public cloud, does size matter?

Microsoft, which runs one of the world's largest public clouds in Azure, thinks the answer is yes.

Microsoft, Redmond, Wash., is touting its new Azure G-Series VMs, which debuted Thursday, as the largest currently available from any public cloud vendor, in terms of the amount of memory, processing power and local solid state drive storage they include.

Azure G-Series VMs come with up to 32 vCPUs using Intel's Xeon E5 v3 processors, as well as 448 GB of memory and 6.59 TB of local SSD space.

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All this power makes Azure G-Series VMs great for customers that want to deploy heavy-duty enterprise apps, including relational database servers and NoSQL databases, Drew McDaniel, principal program manager for Microsoft Azure, said in a blog post Thursday.

All this computing power doesn't come cheap: Azure G-Series VMs are priced at $9.65 per hour, which adds up to around $7,180 per month. They're currently available only in the western U.S. Azure region, although Microsoft is working on bringing them to other regions, McDaniel said in the blog post.

Steve Tutino, president of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Microsoft partner Ipanema Solutions, has been moving server VMs and apps to Azure for the past year and told CRN it's substantially cheaper to use Azure than to deliver hardware to his customers.

"The biggest benefit of these large VMs is that literally in 15 minutes you could have one running; imagine if you had to source the hardware, install it and load the OS. That would take days or weeks," Tutino said.

Both Amazon and Google declined to comment on Microsoft's claims.

Comparing VMs between public cloud players is tricky business, but Microsoft isn't just blowing smoke here. Its Azure G-Series VMs have the same amount of processing power as Amazon Web Services' largest EC2 instances, but they come with more storage.

The 448 GB of memory Microsoft offers with Azure G-Series VMs is also more than what AWS and Google currently offer in their highest-powered VMs.

The question is, is all of this important for customers that don't need to run massive enterprise apps?

VMware, when it launched vSphere 5 in 2011, coined the term "monster VMs" to market the beefy performance they offered, but whether all this firepower is practical for customers soon became a matter of debate, as many industry watchers said only tiny number of customers would actually need all that power.

In the meantime, Microsoft may still be chasing AWS in the public cloud space, but it can now boast that its public cloud is home to the biggest, most powerful VMs on the market.