A Quick Reference of Microsoft Azure VM Pricing and Configurations

Microsoft Azure has provided two pricing schedules, Standard and Basic, and each has a set of configurations available for deploying a VM. This article provides a quick reference while highlighting important considerations for choosing a VM configuration.

VM with Standard Pricing

Microsoft Azure Standard pricing offers ten defined VM configurations available for deployment. As of July 17th, 2014, Azure portal (https://azure.portal.com in preview as of July of 2014) shows monthly costs from $14.88 for a simple general use A0 machine to $3325.68 for a compute power house of A9 as shown below.

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Each VM configuration is defined with the number of core (or virtual CPU in the context of a VM), RAM, maximal number of data disks attachable and IOPS. As highlighted in the following, the more capacities a VM configuration includes, the higher an associated monthly cost is.

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These ten configurations are developed for three types of employment. From A0 to A4, there is an across-the-board increase of all capacities from one set to the next. These configurations are intended for general purpose instances. A5 to A7 has significant combined capacities to run memory intensive applications, while A8 and A9 are with massive compute and storage capacities in additional to considerable IOPS for deploying those VMs hosting compute intensive workloads.

Notice the presented pricing model is as dated and you should always check the source for the latest offerings.

Basic vs. Standard Pricings

Basic and Standard pricings have the same A0 to A4 configurations of core, RAM and max number of data disks attachable. For instance, an A3 VM with either Basic or Standard pricing has a configuration of 4-virtual CPU configuration, 7 GB RAM and up to 8 data disks attachable as shown below.

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Not all Azure VMs Are Created Equal

The significance of deploying a Azure VM with a Standard pricing is that load-balancing and auto-scaling are available, while those with Basic pricing do not include the two features as shown above. Essentially, Basic pricing is for deploying VMs intended for application development or triage, at the same time Standard pricing is for deploying VMs in a production setting where load-balancing and scalability may be critical for some applications.

Learn Azure and Cloud Wisely

Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Services is an IaaS solution and a viable platform for managing entire application life cycle with agility and cost-effectiveness as proved by many case studies. For IT pros, Azure has offered a roadmap and Infrastructure Services as accelerator for advancing career in this cloud computing era. To learn Azure, Microsoft Virtual Academy (http://aka.ms/mva1) has provided a Microsoft Azure track to facilitate your learning. As you learn how to employ a VM in Microsoft Azure, assess your applications and deploy/test them to identify an optimal VM configuration.

Call to Action

  • Do it. Sign up a Microsoft Account (http://outlook.com) if not already. You will need one to download trial software, access virtual labs, sign up Microsoft event, and consume Microsoft Virtual Academy content.
  • Learn it. Register at Microsoft Virtual Academy (http://aka.ms/mva1), review Microsoft Azure track, develop and follow through your learning plan.
  • Review it. For those interested in learning more, I recommend these posts (http://aka.ms/recommended).
  • Subscribe it. Get he RSS feed of my blog (http://yungchou.wordpress.com/feed/) and follow me in twitter, (http://twitter.com/yungchou) as I publish Azure content regularly.

TechNet Radio: (Part 9) Accelerate DevOps with the Cloud – Scaling Cloud Applications

In part 9 of our  “Accelerate DevOps with the Cloud” series on TechNet Radio, Keith Mayer and Yung Chou are back and this episode they discuss in depth the ability for DevOps organizations to scale up or scale down cloud applications. Tune in as they discuss Azure’s unique flexibility in terms of capacity planning for cloud applications.

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  • [1:07] How is planning for application capacity different when using a cloud platform?
  • [4:50] How is scaling application capacity different or better when using the cloud?
  • [5:52]  Are there application scenarios that are particularly well-suited for scaling in the cloud?
  • [14:01]  Is there a way to trigger scaling operations automatically for applications in the cloud?
  • [15:20] DEMO: Could you show us the basics of how this all works in Azure?
    • Scaling Up Cloud Applications
    • How to Scale Out Cloud applications on a schedule
    • Auto-Scaling Cloud Applications

Websites & Blogs:

Videos:

TechNet Radio: (Part 7) Accelerate DevOps with the Cloud – Configuration Management

In part 7 of our  “Accelerate DevOps with the Cloud” series on TechNet Radio, Keith Mayer and Yung Chou welcome Sr. Program Manager Michael Greene to the show as they discuss the importance of configuration management for organizations that are starting to leverage the cloud for their daily operations. Tune in as they also demo PowerShell DSC and how it can be used with Azure. 

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  • [2:30] When an organization is beginning to leverage the cloud, why is Configuration Management important?
  • [5:01] How is Configuration Management different from Automation?
  • [6:48]  Is Configuration Management more than just initial provisioning?
  • [10:29]  What tools and resources are available to perform Configuration Management?
  • [13:03] How does PowerShell DSC differ from PowerShell scripts?
  • [15:11] Is PowerShell DSC specific to only Windows workloads?
  • [17:23] DEMO: Can you show us how PowerShell DSC can be leveraged with Azure?

Videos:

TechNet Radio: (Part 6) Accelerate DevOps with the Cloud – Automating for Predictability

Continuing our  “Accelerate DevOps with the Cloud” series on TechNet Radio, Yung Chou welcomes Sr. Program Manager Charles Joy to the show as they discuss the be the importance of automation in your datacenter especially when it comes to advancing your DevOps strategy.

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  • [2:36] How does automation help organizations accelerate the delivery of new solutions as they move to the Cloud?
  • [5:18] What tools and resources are available to help IT Pros get started with automation? Do they need to be a professional “scripter”?
  • [6:04]  Do IT Pros need to learn a different set of tools for automating each component?
  • [6:26]  If an IT Pro is automating cloud resources in Azure, do they have to spin up an entire set of infrastructure components just to handle automation? How does Azure automation organize and leverage these automation sequences?
  • [7:22] How can Runbooks be triggered? Based on schedule? Based on other events?
  • [8:24] Is Azure Automation extensible? Can I incorporate other PowerShell modules?
  • [9:10] DEMO: Quick walkthrough of Azure Automation accounts, assets, runbooks, schedule

Websites & Blogs:

Yung Chou’s Presentation on Deploying Microsoft AD with Microsoft azure infrastructure services

This presentation focuses on

  • Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Services essentials
  • Windows AD operability in Microsoft Azure

It is not about

  • Windows AD design, implementation, or sys admin
  • Microsoft Azure Active Directory

Call to Action

Deploying Microsoft Azure RemoteApp as a Stand-Alone Cloud Service with QUICK CREATE

Microsoft Azure RemoteApp is a solution which can be rapidly deployed for anywhere accessing remote resources with a variety of devices including Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, or Android. A user will install a Microsoft Remote Desktop client on an Internet-connected laptop, tablet, or phone and access RemoteApp applications running in Microsoft Azure, as if they were running on the user’s local computer. Notice that the stand URL to acquire Microsoft Azure RemoteApp client is https://www.remoteapp.windowsazure.com/. A Microsoft Azure subscription can create up to five RemoteApp services. Here’s an introduction.

Deployment Models

IT also has an option to deploy RemoteApp as a stand-alone cloud service with Microsoft pre-built application collections or integrated with on-premises RDS infrastructure by bringing your own RDSH. The former is quite easy to set up and what this blog post presents. While the latter is a hybrid deployment scenario bridging on-premises RDS infrastructure with RemoteApp service in the cloud. In this case, IT will need to create a virtual network with defined address spaces and establish VPN connectivity between on-premises network and Azure RemoteApp.

Business Values

IT now has an option to enable users to access corporate applications from anywhere and on a variety of devices by employing Azure RemoteApp without the need to deploy on-premises infrastructure. Both the application deployment and the user access of Azure RemoteApp are provided as services, while RemoteApp applications are centralized, protected, and running in Microsoft Azure which can publish, scale, or unpublish corporate applications on demand, as business needs change.

Overall, RemoteApp is a cost-effective solution for today’s dynamic business environment and a best-fit for serving fluctuating workforce or fast-changing business requirements. To assess RemoteApp, a Microsoft Azure subscription is required.

Microsoft Azure Trial Subscription

Freely available is a 30-day trial subscription at http://aka.ms/R2 which is a Microsoft landing page for downloading evaluation copies of Windows Server and System Center products. There is also an option to deploy Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter on Microsoft Azure. This is the option to start a registration process for acquiring a Microsoft Azure 30-Day trial subscription.

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To ensure identity, credit card information is required. However, prior to the expiration a trial subscriber will get email notification to op-in or op-out. It is a direct way to test Microsoft Azure in production, live and free.

RemoteApp Availability

As of June 2014, RemoteApp is still in preview and one will need to sign up the preview feature to make the RemoteApp option available, once approved. After logging into Microsoft Azure Management Portal, a subscriber can access preview offerings by clicking the View My Bill option of the dropdown menu form the subscriber ID on the upper right corner. And notice in general the approval process of activating a preview feature is not immediate and some may take up a few days.

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Once approved, the feature becomes available from the left navigation pane.

RemoteApp “Quick Create” Process

Quick Create is to deploy RemoteApp as a Stand-Alone cloud service. A RemoteApp deployment may take about 30 minutes for Azure to complete. The process followed is to publish applications, configure user access, and installing the client. It is very straightforward. When entering a user or group that you want to grant access to for this service. Use the “user@domain” or “domain/user” format. The user must be either a Microsoft Account, or a user or group account homed in the Default Directory of Azure Active Directory.

Start with REMOTEAPP workspace by clicking +NEW.

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Quick Create Page

Here, just click Quick Create, specify a name, a region, and an application collection.

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Once created, click the name or arrow to display the dashboard.

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Quick Start Page

Like other Azure offerings, by default Quick Start page is first shown. A Quick Start page usually presents essential information and is a great resource page.

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As described in the Quick Start page, publishing RemoteApp programs, configuring user access and installing the RemoteApp client is the process to configure a RemoteApp service.

Publishing RemoteApp Programs

Click either one to display the application collections.

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Identify applications to be published and save the settings.

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Configuring User Access

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When entering user information, use the “user@domain” or “domain/user” format. The user must be either a Microsoft Account, or a user or group account homed in the Default Directory of Azure Active Directory.

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Installing RemoteApp Client

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Pick an intended client. Here, I picked Windows x64 client.

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Starts an installation of the RemoteApp client.

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The RemoteApp tile is placed in APPS page, once the client installed.

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Start configuring the user information.

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Once authenticated, the published applications are displayed.

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This is the About information.

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Running RemoteApp Program

Here’s Office Word coming up.

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Can save a file to OneDrive or locations visible to local File Explorer.

Session Information

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Yung Chou’s Presentation on Deploying Windows 8.1 in Microsoft Azure

My presentation on Deploying Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 in Microsoft Azure

Highlights