Microsoft Azure is a growing collection of integrated cloud services (virtual machines)—analytics, computing, database, mobile, networking, storage, and web—for moving faster, achieving more resiliency, and lowering costs. Microsoft Azure is an open platform that supports integration with on-premises environments.
Azure Virtual Machine types are categories of Virtual Machines (VMs) configured to perform general tasks or tasks requiring additional compute, memory, or storage capacities. Within each category, there may be sub-groups of VMs with additional capabilities to support specific workloads.
When Windows Azure (now Microsoft Azure) first became commercially available in February 2010 there was only one “type” of Virtual Machine—a general-purpose VM that only ran on Windows operating systems and had five size options: Extra-small, Small, Medium, Large, and Extra-large.
Currently, there are numerous Azure Virtual Machine types available on the market and each type has a different vCPU-to-memory ratio depending on the nature of the workload being assigned to the VM—and within each type, there can be dozens of configuration options to maximize the choice available to users.
Compared to 2010, when only five size options were available, there are more than two hundred size options across six types. Our guide to Microsoft Azure Virtual Machine types explains what each category is and what type of workload is best suited to it.
General-purpose VMs have a 1 vCPU-to-4 GiB memory ratio and are ideal for testing and development, small- to medium-sized databases, and web servers that experience low to mid volumes of traffic. This type also includes “burstable VMs” that can burst to significantly higher CPU when demand increases.
Compute-optimized VMs have a 1 vCPU-to-2 GiB memory ratio and are suitable for network appliances, batch processes, application servers, and web servers that receive a higher volume of traffic. There are three sub-groups of compute optimized VMs depending on the need for persistent storage.
The vCPU-to-memory ratio for memory-optimized VMs starts at 1 vCPU-to-8 GiB but goes up to 1 vCPU-to-28 GiB memory for extreme memory-optimized VMs. There are 93 memory-optimized VMs to choose from for workloads, such as relational database servers and in-memory analytics.
Storage optimized VMs have the same 1 vCPU-to8 GiB ratio but have a high disk throughput to reduce latency. Consequently, they are around 20 percent more expensive to run if you use them for Big Data, SQL and NoSQL databases, data warehousing, and large transactional databases.
As the name suggests, this Azure Virtual Machine type is suitable for workloads such as heavy graphic rendering and video editing. Due to their enhanced vCPU-to-memory ratios of up to 25x, these specialized VMs are also ideal for DNA sequencing, protein analysis, and “Monte Carlo” simulations.
The high-performance compute Azure Virtual Machine types can be optimized for workloads requiring dense computation (i.e. reservoir simulation), or those with fluid dynamics (i.e. weather modelling). Typically, they have vCPU-to-memory ratios of 7x, but there is also an option to deploy high-performance compute VMs with a 14x ratio.
For most businesses, when switching to new technology, it all comes down to pricing benefits and security. This is exactly why Azure VMs are getting popular among small and medium businesses. Azure offers a lot of built-in security features that can be used:
According to a recent research report the infrastructure as a service market was valued at $38.94 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach $201.83 billion by 2027. Companies turning towards cloud computing are giving their employees easy access to their employers’ work environment with controlled privacy and security features. Microsoft Azure is a great solution for companies trying to remain productive.
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