Microsoft Releases Azure Ultra Disk Storage to General Availability


In a recent blog post, Microsoft announced the general availability of Azure Ultra Disk Storage – a new Managed Disks offering, which delivers unprecedented and extremely scalable performance with sub-millisecond latency for the most demanding Azure Virtual Machines and container workloads. 

Microsoft first launched the Azure Ultra Disk Storage service as a preview last year in September in the East US2 region. Now the tech giant offers this type of solid-state drive (SSD) storage service commercially – providing customers with high throughput and high input/output (IO) for Azure virtual machines (VMs). Moreover, with Azure Ultra Disk Storage, customers can have a lot of flexibility by allowing them to control:

  • the size from 4 GiB up to 64 TiB, IOPS
  • the bandwidth of Ultra Disk Storage ranging from 300MB per second to 2,000MB per second
  • and scale the input/output operations options from 1,200IOs per second to 160,000IOs per second

Furthermore, Microsoft claims customers can easily change their throughputs and IO specifications as needed. Changes take effect in less than an hour, according to Mark Russinovich, chief technology officer for Azure, in an announcement about Azure Ultra Disk Storage:

One key benefit of Ultra Disk Storage is that you can dynamically tune disk performance without detaching your disk or restarting your virtual machines. Thus, you can scale performance along with your workload. When you adjust either IOPS or throughput, the new performance settings take effect in less than an hour.

With Azure Ultra Disk Storage Microsoft now offers four types of persistent disks. Besides Ultra Disk Storage, it also provides Premium SSD, Standard SSD, and Standard HDD. The premium SSD offering depends on using the Azure Blob storage cache, while Ultra Disks use Azure “Locally Redundant Storage” (LRS) to keep three copies within an Azure Availability Zone. Furthermore, Azure Ultra Disks use so-called Microsoft’s “virtual disk client” technology, which provides metadata on disk mappings – allowing clients to talk directly to storage servers, bypassing load balancers and front-end servers used for initial disk connections.

Customers can leverage Azure Ultra Disks to lift-and-shift mission-critical enterprise applications to the cloud. Charles King, a principal analyst at Pund-IT, said in a DataCenterKnowlegde article:

Azure Ultra Disk Storage’s high throughput and high I/O capabilities were designed for supporting data-intensive workloads like SAP Hana in the cloud. That should make the new service particularly interesting to Microsoft’s enterprise clients and could also increase the momentum of mission-critical application migrations to Microsoft Azure.

The Azure Ultra Disk Storage is currently available in three Azure regions – East US 2, North Europe and Southeast Asia, and the general availability pricing takes effect from the first of October 2019. More details are available on the pricing page.

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