Additional availability for FastTrack for Azure

FastTrack for Azure helps customers to accelerate the deployment of their Azure solutions and it’s at no cost from Microsoft for eligible customers.

Eligibility is focussed around having an identified Azure project supported by the FastTrack program that’s expected to reach at least $5,000 of service usage per month within 12 months of deployment.

FastTrack services have recently also become available in Japan (http://bit.ly/2Vk9jza) and countries in the Asia Pacific region (http://bit.ly/32qT6tn).

Find out more about FastTrack for Azure here: http://bit.ly/2kriyNO.

Windows 7 End of Support resources

Windows 7 reached End of Support on 14 January, 2020. Although Microsoft’s recommendation is to upgrade to Windows 10 or move to Windows Virtual Desktop in Azure, customers may purchase Extended Security Updates to continue to receive security updates for critical and important issues. There’s a useful article if you’re intending to deploy these ESUs here: http://bit.ly/39nxuk1, and the FAQ page for Windows 7 End of Support is updated for February 2020 here: http://bit.ly/38dkWeJ.

Azure Cost Management: January update

Azure Cost Management helps customers to feel in control of their Azure spending and to maximise their cloud investment. There are continual innovations to the functionality available, and this January update details the latest changes including improved reporting, new ways of saving money with Azure, and recent changes to Azure usage data: http://bit.ly/2Ov9pQ9.

Preview of Azure Spot virtual machines

Microsoft announce the preview of Azure spot virtual machines. Azure Spot VMs let you access unused Azure compute capacity at large discounts compared to pay-as-you-go prices. These VMs are evicted when Azure no longer has available compute capacity and must reallocate its resources. At that point, the VM is deallocated and no additional VM-related changes are incurred, but other resources, such as disk or network, continue to run and accrue charges.

Ideal workloads for Azure Spot VMs include:

  • development and test
  • workloads that can recover from interruptions
  • short-lived jobs which can easily be run again if the virtual machine is evicted.

Azure Spot VMs are created in the same way as regular VMs, but a flag is set at the time of creation, designating it as a Spot VM. At this point in the preview the pricing is fixed for a Spot VM, but in the future the pricing will vary based on capacity for a particular VM in a particular region. You’ll be able to choose your eviction terms: when Azure needs the capacity, or when the variable pricing reaches a maximum price that you have set.

As a comparison of pricing, for an Fsv2 VM, the pay-as-you-go price per hour is $0.163, while the Spot price is $0.065 per hour, with 1-year and 3-year Reserved Instances at $0.142 and $0.1227 per hour respectively.

Find the announcement here: http://bit.ly/36O659J and there’s a useful FAQ at the bottom of this page: http://bit.ly/2tsxXBO.

Azure Dedicated Host

Microsoft announce the preview of Azure Dedicated Host, a new Azure service that enables customers to run Linux and Windows virtual machines on single-tenant physical servers.

So, how’s this all licensed? Well, first of all you choose the type of Azure Dedicated Host that you want. Currently there are three types, each based on a particular VM series: Dsv3, Esv3 or Fsv2, and you can run any virtual machines from the chosen family on a particular Azure Dedicated Host. Each Azure Dedicated Host has a specific number of vCPUs available and that dictates how many virtual machines you can run.

So, for example, the Dsv3 series Azure Dedicated Host has 64 vCPUs, so you could run 32 x D2s v3 VMs since they have 2 vCPUs each, or mix and match with 2 x D8s v3 (8 vCPUs each) + 2 x D16s v3 (16 vCPUs each) + 8 x D2s v3 (2 vCPUs each). You then pay an hourly charge for the Azure Dedicated Host, regardless of how many virtual machines are running, and that’s $3.38 per hour for the Dsv3 Series.

This hourly charge is for the compute power of the virtual machines, so then you need to pay for the software you want to run in those virtual machines. This can either be done on a metered, hourly basis, or you can bring your own Windows Server and SQL Server licences if you’re eligible for the Azure Hybrid Benefit – either through Software Assurance or if you have a Server Subscription bought through CSP.

How many licences do you bring? Well, you can follow the usual rules for licensing virtual machines in Azure, or you can license all the physical cores on the Azure Dedicated Host with Windows Server Datacenter or SQL Server Enterprise licences to be eligible for running an unlimited number of virtual machines. In terms of useful resources, find the announcement here: http://bit.ly/2M1TKIB, find the Azure Dedicated Host pricing page here: http://bit.ly/2KkxB6m, and an updated FAQ on the Azure Hybrid Benefit here: http://bit.ly/2g1HEwS.

Azure Lighthouse

Microsoft announce the General Availability of Azure Lighthouse (http://bit.ly/2XXR45e) on 11 July, 2019. This tool is primarily aimed at Service Providers who manage Azure resources across a number of customer tenants, but it’s also useful for customers who need to manage their own resources across multiple tenants. Typically, in order to manage Azure resources for a customer, a Service Provider has to sign in to the Azure Management portal using an account associated with that customer’s tenant, and if there are tasks to be done across multiple customer tenants, it’s a time-consuming process accessing each customer’s tenant separately.

Azure Lighthouse makes use of the Azure delegated resource management capability which, through a logical projection of customer resources onto a Service Provider’s tenant context, gives that partner a single control plane to view and manage Azure resources across all of their customers. Even better, it works across the different ways that a customer may have purchased Azure such as through an EA, CSP or directly from Azure.com. The service is free to use, and customers can be onboarded to Azure delegated resource management either by using Azure Resource Manager templates or by publishing a private or public Managed Services offer to the Azure Marketplace.

To find out more, tackle these resources in order:

  • Introducing managed services offers in Azure Marketplace – 20-minute session from Inspire: http://bit.ly/2M6BGMI
  • Azure Lighthouse: Shifting the managed services paradigm towards greater efficiency and security – 1-hour session from Inspire: http://bit.ly/2YmBXl9
  • Azure Lighthouse documentation: http://bit.ly/2Y04Zrf

Azure Cost Management

Microsoft announce the General Availability of Azure Cost Management for customers buying through Azure.com and Azure Government customers.

You can find the announcement here: http://bit.ly/2LdDQLM with details of new features (a downloadable Azure usage CSV file) and the generally available features (cost analysis, budgets and exports).

There’s also information on what’s not currently supported: Marketplace purchases, data from earlier than September 2018, and Reserved Instances.

Azure Reservations

Azure Reservations are a way of pre-paying for an Azure resource over a one or three-year term to get the most cost-effective pricing. The Reservations family continues to grow: it started with Reserved Instances, a way of pre-paying for Azure virtual machine base compute, and was extended with Reserved Capacity, a way of pre-paying for Azure SQL Database compute capacity. Today the family also includes Software Reservations for SUSE Linux software, and Reserved Capacity for Azure Cosmos DB throughput.

This page (http://bit.ly/2Q3vm7J) gives you an overview of Reservations and if you expand the “Buy a reservation” link at the left you can get details on the current four members of the Reservations family.