Microsoft Pairs Premium Storage With High-Compute Instance, Yielding Azure's Most-Powerful VMs

Microsoft Wednesday integrated extremely fast access storage with the most powerful virtual machines available on Azure to yield its public cloud's highest-performance instance type.

A variant of the G-Series instance introduced at the start of the year, the new GS-Series adds Azure's Premium Storage to the memory- and compute-intensive offering, further beefing up those virtual machines with speedy disk and network throughput.

The world's second largest cloud provider also dropped prices on its more modest, but still relatively powerful, D- and DS-Series instances.

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

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Corey Sanders, director of program management on the Azure compute team, told CRN that Microsoft has seen "a huge pickup in usage and deployments" of G-Series instances across a wide variety of scenarios, most involving big data applications such as running the Hadoop analytics platform.

The new GS instances will provide Microsoft partners with more options for enticing customers to migrate from on-premise infrastructure, he said.

"As partners bring solutions and workloads onto Azure, these offer a greater amount of choice for them to be able to deploy their applications," Sanders told CRN.

GS-Series users will be able to access their SSD drives at 80,000 IOPS with 2,000 MBps of storage throughput. The instance achieves networking speeds of 20 Gbps -- bandwidth that Microsoft says is at least twice as fast as that offered by any other hyperscale cloud provider.

"The exciting areas [in which] this will be useful are not only forward deployments of enterprise-based applications," Sanders said.

The high-performance instances also will benefit Microsoft's ISV partners and application vendors building on the platform as the Azure marketplace continues to expand and offer more diverse third-party tools and services, according to Sanders.

System integrators and Microsoft's Cloud Solution Provider partners will find that the GS-Series will increase their ability to scale resources for customers with advanced workloads, he said.

"That means a wider variety of workloads can move more comfortably into the public cloud," Sanders told CRN.

At the same time, D- and DS-Series instances -- popular with Azure users who don't need the highest tier of computing power and storage speed but still run data-intensive applications -- will drop in price by up to 27 percent, Sanders told CRN.

Microsoft, Redmond, Wash., Wednesday also released two additional diagnostic capabilities for virtual machines -- serial output and console output -- that will help solution providers managing customer deployments diagnose boot or runtime failures through their portals, he told CRN.

"For SIs and Cloud Solution Providers, they'll find these solutions to be very powerful when deploying workloads onto Azure because it will simplify and minimize debugging time," Sanders said. "It should be very valuable across the full range of partners."

Microsoft also introduced Azure Service Bus Premium Messaging, a premium messaging tier that improves messaging performance by using micro services instead of a multitenant model.