Microsoft's customers now have another way to pay for the Azure cloud-computing resources that they expect to consume. The company's Azure Virtual Machine (VM) Reserved Instances (RIs), which are paid for in advance at a savings compared to on-demand pricing, are now generally available and ready to take on production workloads.
"Azure RIs give you price predictability and help improve your budgeting and forecasting. Azure RIs also provide unprecedented flexibility should your business needs change," said Takeshi Numoto, corporate vice president of Cloud and Enterprise at Microsoft, in a Nov. 16 announcement. "We've made it easy to exchange your RIs and make changes such as region or VM family, and unlike other cloud providers, you can cancel Azure RIs at any time and get a refund."
With some planning, customers who pay for their Azure Virtual Machine Reserved Instances up front can capture some major savings, according to Microsoft.
The company estimates that users can save 72 percent by locking down a reserved instance versus a standard, pay-as-you-go plan. Pairing reserved instances with the Azure Hybrid Benefit, a pricing option for businesses with on-premises Windows Server licenses (SQL Server soon), can save up to 82 percent.
To help customers verify that those savings are, in fact real, the company will soon allow users to view utilization statistics and track their savings compared to on-demand instances. A FAQ with additional purchase and usage details is available here.
Over on the networking side of Azure, the company is rolling out a rash of new features and services this fall that improve performance and help customers keep their data flowing safely.
Azure customers using Azure data centers in Quebec City, Canada can now evaluate Data Plane Developer Kit (DPDK) and its ability to speed their multi-VM application workloads. Initially created by Intel and now at its new home at the Linux Foundation, DPDK is a set of libraries and drivers that enable fast dataplane I/O. Microsoft announced public preview support for DPDK for customers using the Azure Accelerated Networking option for improved throughput between their virtual machines.
Also new is the beta release of Network Performance Monitor for ExpressRoute, Microsoft's secure hybrid cloud connectivity option for organizations looking for an alternative to transferring their data over the public internet.
The monitoring solution allows users to track bandwidth, packet loss and other metrics concerning their private links to Azure. Additionally, both the Azure Monitor and Resource Health for ExpressRoute Circuits monitoring tools are generally available, revealing potential issues with customers' connections to Microsoft's cloud data centers.
Microsoft has also hardened its cloud against distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks in some Azure regions. A preview of Azure DDoS Protection is available in select data centers the U.S., Europe and Asia. The service uses machine learning algorithms to detect potential DDoS attacks and mitigate their effects.
Websites and online services that succumb to the flood of malicious traffic generated by successful DDoS attacks are effectively knocked offline. A recent study from CDNetworks, a cloud security provider, revealed that 69 percent of businesses in the U.S. were hit by a DDoS attack in the past 12 months. In the U.K., that figure rises to 71 percent.