As part of Microsoft's ongoing efforts to attract enterprises to its cloud computing platform, the company has announced four new virtual machine (VM) images optimized to run SQL Server-based online transaction processing (OLTP) and data warehousing workloads on Azure.
Meant to cut down on IT administrative overhead and improve performance, the new images can help organizations move more of their business databases to the cloud in less time, according to Microsoft.
The new Data Warehousing Optimized Image for SQL Server 2014 and SQL Server 2012, for instance, simplifies "the setup process for customers by adding more automation," said the company in a Sept. 17 post on the SQL Server Blog. "For example, the automation of attaching a disk to the SQL Server VM running a data warehouse workload."
In terms of the new OLTP Optimized Image, also for SQL Server 2014 and SQL Server 2012, snappy application performance is the company's aim.
"One of the key improvements in this tuned image is the ability to attach many disks to the SQL Server VM. This is critical in terms of improving IO in an OLTP workload as the number of disks has a direct impact on OLTP performance," stated Microsoft. The images also leverage Storage Spaces, a Windows technology for multidisk setups, to reduce latency and improve IO performance.
The optimized images run on Azure VM instances that support up to 16 disks (Standard A4, A7, A8 and A9, and Basic A4). They are available now in the Azure Management Portal's gallery of services. Alternately, administrators can provision the images using a PowerShell Commandlet (New-AzureQuickVM).
In both the OLTP and data warehousing VM images, Microsoft has configured the settings to conform to the company's own recommended Performance Best Practices for SQL Server in Azure Virtual Machines. Accordingly, 15 disks are attached to each VM, and storage is split between one data pool (12 disks, 12TB fixed size) and one log pool (3 disks, 3TB fixed size).
Businesses won't have to pay extra for the perks, announced Microsoft. "The new optimized images follow exactly the same pricing model with no additional cost. Note that with larger VM instance sizes, higher cost is associated," stated a company FAQ.
Azure Virtual Machine plans start at $0.018 per hour for an Extra Small compute instance with a shared CPU and 768MB of RAM. Extra Large instances, with up to eight virtual CPU cores and 14GB of RAM, cost up to $0.72 per hour to run.
Microsoft has reason to bulk up Azure's enterprise capabilities as corporate demand for the company's cloud services intensifies.
Commenting on strong fourth-quarter revenues on July 22, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella noted that businesses are flocking to the company's cloud offerings. "I'm proud that our aggressive move to the cloud is paying off—our commercial cloud revenue doubled again this year to a $4.4 billion annual run rate," he said in a statement.