Don’t you love it when something new comes into play? The reality is that with Azure, something new is happening all the time! This month I saw a new preview in Azure storage for a significant bursting enhancement for Azure Disks.
This post on the Azure site is something that is very important and I hope you have not missed this news as I feel it is a big deal. Let’s explain why this is a big deal. Bursting is an I/O phenomena that has always been a problem. There have been many levels of controls to mitigate this over the years on-premises usually through storage area networks and hypervisor controls. In the cloud, there are I/O controls as well; but still there are needs for bursting workloads.
This new capability can provide: “Eligible Premium SSD disks can now achieve up to 30x of the provisioned performance target”. There are a few points to consider, first of all it will be enabled by default for new disk deployments in supported regions. For existing disks, there is a required step to detach and reattach to expose/enable the new bursting. Additionally, this appears to not incur any additional cost for the performance. This. Is. Incredible. See the chart below for the performance characteristics:
Let me give you an example from my professional experience. I used to work with some data scientists who analyzed data from financial systems, manufacturing systems and even industry data. They had a business intelligence system that they used to work models and build cubes of data for analysis. It was rather intriguing information and data. This was around 10 years ago, but I learned an important lesson: Some workloads have bursts and need high-performance storage. I greatly desired this business intelligence application to be a virtual machine, but building the data cubes took around 14 hours to make. When I put this same application on a physical server with its own storage (and no limits!) it took around 3 hours to make this data usable. Oh what I could have done to have this new Azure technology then! This would have been exactly the right storage technology for it now.
Let’s fast forward to today and what we can do in Azure with this new capability. Frist of all this is only available in Azure West Central US currently as a preview. This makes doing a pilot/proof of concept for your use cases somewhat of a challenge if you are not using that region currently.
All regions worldwide have the “core” Azure storage services (blob, file, pages, queues, disks, etc.) but the “extra” services vary by region. Looking at the status page is one of the easiest ways for me to discern which Azure regions have which services (beyond just storage). This is helpful to pilot bursting disks if other Azure storage services or applications are used.
Do you have a use case for the bursting I/O? Even a boot up is a case, but real data-heavy applications can truly benefit from this new capability!