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Azure News - April 2019

Author by Mitchell Grande

New B-series VM Size: B1ls

On April 1, Microsoft announced a new B-series VM size, the B1ls.  This is a burstable CPU VM with 1 vCPU and 0.5 GB of RAM.  Due to the low memory, it cannot be used for Windows VMs - only Linux can be chosen with this size.  It's probably too underpowered for any production workload, but it should be enough to run a small Linux web and database server for testing.  Not including storage, the list price for a B1ls VM is just $3.80/month.

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New Disk Sizes

Azure now supports larger, higher performing, disk sizes in all regions.  The new sizes include 8, 16, and 32 TB disks (previously, 4 TB was the largest available disk).  Additionally, the Premium SSD SKUs now scale up to 20,000 IOPS and 900 MB/sec, while the Standard HDD disks top out at 2,000 IOPS and 500 MB/sec.

These new disk sizes will make it easier to provision larger volumes to Windows and Linux VMs.  Instead of striping multiple 4 TB disks together to create a large volume, a single larger disk can be deployed instead.  However, striping may increase performance in certain scenarios so that option should still be considered.

Keep in mind that Azure Backup and Azure Site Recovery do not yet support the new disk sizes.  Support is likely to come in the next few weeks.

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Ultra SSD Disks

The Ultra SSD disk SKU is currently available in public preview.  Ultra SSD disks allow separate scaling of performance and size, making it possible to precisely define the capacity and performance requirements of each disk.  Ultra SSD disks scale up to 160,000 IOPS and 2,000 MB/sec allowing for extremely high performing storage for any demanding workload.  Ultra SSD disks are currently only available in East US 2, and there are several limitations while they are in preview.

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Windows Virtual Desktop

Recently released to public preview, Windows Virtual Desktop allows Windows 10, Windows 7, or traditional Windows Server RDS hosting in Azure.  This is a hybrid Platform and Infrastructure as a Service offering, where the customer is responsible for managing the session host and desktop VMs, while the gateway and broker part of the RDS infrastructure is managed by Microsoft.

Most importantly, access to Windows 10 or 7 desktops via Windows Virtual Desktop is covered by certain Windows Enterprise licensing.  The Microsoft 365 E3, E5, A3, and A5 licenses all allow access desktops through Windows Virtual Desktop with no additional licensing required.

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Mitchell Grande

Systems Engineer

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