Microsoft Launches New Storage-Optimized Azure VMs

The latest Azure cloud updates include new virtual machines that offer brisk, low-latency performance for storage-intensive workloads.

Azure Cloud Doubles

Microsoft added a new option to its ever-growing catalog of Azure virtual machines (VMs), this time aimed at cloud workloads with demanding storage requirements.

"The L Series for Storage optimizes workloads that require low latency, such as NoSQL databases (e.g. Cassandra, MongoDB, Cloudera and Redis)," said Jon Beck, principal program manager at Microsoft Azure, in a March 15 announcement. "This new series of VMs offers from up to 32 CPU cores, using the Intel Xeon processor E5 v3 family, similar to the CPU performance of the G-Series that is currently available."

Launched in early 2015, G-Series Azure VMs are backed by beefy Intel server processors and speedy solid-state drive (SSD) storage. The new L-Series offerings are available from five North American Azure data centers and the Australia East region, with more locations to follow.

Also this week, Azure Backup customers gained the ability to instantly recover select files from their Linux VM cloud backups, a feature Microsoft debuted last month for Windows VM backups. In addition to retrieving files in the case of accidental deletion or to validate backups, the new instant recovery option allows users to mount application files to application instances without having to restore them, according to Microsoft.

"In case of backup of [an] Azure Linux VM running MongoDB, you can mount BSON [Binary JSON] data dumps from the cloud recovery point and quickly validate the backup or retrieve individual items such as tables without having to download the entire data dump," explained the company in a blog post. A video detailing the file recovery process, along with useful commands, is available here.

In another storage-related move, Microsoft released Update 4 for its StorSimple 8000 series hybrid-cloud storage product. (Microsoft acquired StorSimple, a maker of cloud-integrated storage appliances, in 2012.)

New features include a heatmap-based restore process that improves data access during device restore operations. The software now creates a heatmap of frequently accessed data, automatically restoring data from the cloud based on the heatmap. The update also includes a number of bug fixes and improves the performance of locally pinned volumes while ingesting large amounts of data. Release notes are available here.

Earlier this month, Microsoft added the ability to replicate Hyper-V VMs to Azure premium storage accounts using Azure Site Recovery, the company's cloud-based disaster recovery service. "We recommend that you replicate I/O intensive enterprise workloads to premium storage which provides high IOPS [input-output operations per second] and high disk throughput per VM with extremely low latencies for read operations," stated Poornima Natarajan, a Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise program manager, in a blog post.

"At the time of a failover to Azure, workloads replicating to Premium storage will come up on Azure virtual machines running on premium storage and achieves high levels of performance, both in terms of throughout and latency," she continued.

In addition to an Azure premium storage account, the service requires a standard account, which is used to store replication logs.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...