New Azure Resource Manager VM Deployment Wizard

Microsoft made a small change to the Basics blade of the ARM VM deployment wizard, which I noticed for the first time this morning.

Microsoft is constantly changing the Azure Portal. Feedback, new features, and probably metrics gathered from our usage, shape the solution. It’s gone from being a horrible tool to something I find to be, not only, useful, but also educational – the portal helps me find new things in Azure and understand how things fit together. For example, I tried reading about the Azure ARM load balancer but all of the materials were infinite loop gibberish. I open the portal, deployed a template, and traced how the pieces fit together.

Part of the feedback Microsoft gets is that the UI is “too big”. You have to click and scroll too much. A big improvement was the “all settings” blade which removed the “symantec” from the design and put all of a resource’s features into one flat and discoverable blade.

We got another such improvement in the last couple of days. When we are building a VM in the portal we have to select a spec and size of VM. That opens up a HUGE blade with dozens of options, each presented in a little frame with details of that VM spec/size. Only the other day, I though that this blade had become a pain in the a**. Microsoft has eased the pain (a little) by changing the Basics blade. As you can see below, a new list box asks if we want a VM with SSD or HDD storage – that’s a little over simplified but that’s a conversation for another time. Selecting one option filters what options the Size blade needs to show you.

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Note that this change only affects the deployment of ARM virtual machines. The old experience is still there for Classic (ASM) virtual machines.

I do have another option for Microsoft … cull the numbers of specs of VM. Do we really need Basic A, Standard A, D, DS, Dv2, F, FS, G, GS, NC and NV, each with a number of sizes? I used to be able to explain the features/differences of the different series with a single PowerPoint slide … now it’s a presentation deck all of it’s own!

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Azure In-Place VM Migration Eliminates Reboots During Host Maintenance

Microsoft is finally making updates to Azure to reduce downtime to virtual machines when a host is rebooted.

Microsoft sent out the following announcement via the regular pricing and features update email to customers last night:

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That sounds like Quick Migration. So Azure has caught up with Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V. Winking smile And it sounds like later in 2016, we’ll get Live Migration … yay … Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V Smile with tongue out

Seriously, though, Azure was never designed for the kinds of high availability that we put into an on-premises Hyper-V cluster. Azure is cloud scale, with over 1 million physical hosts. A cluster has around 1000 hosts! When you build at that scale, HA is done in a different way. You encourage customers to design for an army of ants … lots of small deployments where HA is done using software design leveraging cloud fabric features, rather than by hardware. But, when you have customers (from small to huge) who have lots of legacy applications (e.g. file server) that cannot be clustered in Azure without redesign/re-deployment/expense, then you start losing customers.

So Microsoft needed to make changes that acknowledged that many customer workloads are not cloud ready … and to be honest, most of the prospects I’ve encountered where code was being written, the developers weren’t cloud ready either – they are sticking to the one DB server and one web server model that has plagued businesses since the 1990s.

These improvements are great news … and they’re just the tip of last night’s very big and busy iceberg.