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New AMD-Based VMs are coming to Azure. I tested them and things are getting a bit crazy.

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Man, I’m excited! Azure has some new VMs in preview and WVD is in GA, it’s a huge deal in my small corner of the world.  It’s going to take some context to share my excitement, so bear with me or skip to the “Why I’m excited” section below. (hint: they are faster and cheaper.)

Backstory

To really share my excitement we need to go back in time to 2018, back then WVD was not available. If you wanted to run End User Computing (EUC) workloads securely you’d need at least one session host running Windows Server, at least one RDS Gateway and some sort of AD infrastructure. A redundant and robust environment took more VMs but three was essentially the minimum. In RDS you were also required to pay for the Windows version (more expensive) of the VM for session hosts.

At scale, you’d be spending $17.16/user on compute, $20 on O365 E3 and another $6 on the RDS CAL. Add $1 for storage for the user’s profile and ~$3 for backup costs. And, all of a sudden, you’re looking at a cost of $47.16/user to run a cloud desktop with Office Apps.  (For those keeping score, I’m assuming 16 users per session host, running on a D4_v3 VM.  Each user is getting ¼ vCPUs and 1GB RAM. Not a powerhouse but fine for basic office productivity.)

WVD

So, along comes WVD (released to GA a couple weeks ago) and two things in particular stand out… The RDS CAL is no longer required because the user session is now included in M365 Business ($6 savings). And the Session host VMs are billed at the Linux rate because the Windows OS licensing is handled by the M365 subscription (almost 50% savings on session host compute).

This M365 change is big, previously a user would need Office 365 E3 to license Office Apps in a cloud desktop.  With M365 and WVD, for the same $20, you get Office apps, the Windows OS and the user session.

So, update your score card… the user resources/performance is unchanged, and the cost is down to $32.75/user.  This means the net cost to run a cloud desktop is $12.75/user.

Why I’m Excited: New Azure VM Series are faster and (likely) cheaper

Currently in preview, the new Da_v3 and Ea_v3 series VMs run on AMD’s EPYC™ 7452 processor as opposed to the existing D-Series and E-Series machines (based on Intel Xeons).  The exact cost won’t be know until it goes into GA but based on the preview price, we suspect the D4a to be a little cheaper than the D4_v3 (~$125/mo vs. $140/mo).  The other factor in cost/user is performance.

Luckily, I have already run CPU and disk speed tests on the existing D & E series machines. I spent a couple hours last week testing the new VMs using the exact same methodology as the older VM Series. These new AMD-based CPUs are 65% FASTER than the Xeons.  Full results here: https://flightschool.cloudjumper.com/cwms/azure-vm-benchmarking/

What to do with this new power? Increase performance? Save money? Maybe both…

So, if I decide to maximize performance and maintain my budget we’re at $17.16/user while increasing compute capacity by 520% and RAM allocations by 337%.

On the other hand, if I decide to minimize my budget while maintaining performance we can get the cost down from $17.16/ to $5.13/user (Bonus: compute capacity still increases 56%)

With the compute cost down to $5.13/user (with the E4_v3) you’re looking at $29.13/user including M365. This means the net cost to run a cloud desktop with Office apps is $9.13/user, the value to the business is easily 10-12x.

…and Another Thing!

I haven’t mentioned the benefits of our software but the icing on cake is that adding CWMS to the mix has deployments taking minutes of labor, reduces compute costs with intelligent workload scheduling and makes day-to-day operations efficient with application entitlement, scripted automation, user profile, permissions management, MFA and more.  You can do all the above on your own, but CWMS is the easy button for WVD, VDI and RDS.  Don’t do it the hard way.

In Conclusion

The value of cloud based EUC is growing as it gets faster and protects from a growing threat landscape.  The cost to deliver these services is shrinking as software automates delivery, and IaaS costs drop.

Every year for the last 10-years (at least) has been touted as “the year of VDI.” Now that it is easier and cheaper to deliver a better experience in the cloud, 2020 might just be “the year of WVD, VDI and DaaS.”

 

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At CloudJumper, we are a team of thought-leaders, always seeking to answer, what if? That’s how we came to build the industry’s most robust and easiest VDI/WVD orchestration & management tool.

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