Windows Azure Virtual Machines support policies & lessons learned

Microsoft made Windows Azure Virtual Machines general available end of April 2013. This new service allows to cloud consumers to  provision virtual machines from a catalog or upload your own VHD virtual disks. Supported operating systems are Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2012 and various Linux distributions.

MVP Nuno Filipe Mendes Godinho posted an interesting blog about some lessons learned while running virtual machines on Windows Azure.
The post can be read here.

A summary of his findings are:
1. Place each data disk in a single storage account to improve IOPS
2. Always use Data Disks for Read/Write intensive operations, never the OS Disk
3. Use striped disks to achieve better performance
4. Configure Data Disks HostCache for ReadWrite
5. Always create VMs inside a Affinity Group or VNET to decrease latency
6. Always leverage Availability Sets to get SLA
7. Always sysprep your machines
8. Never place intensive read/write information on the Windows System Drive for improved performance
9. Never place persistent information on the Temporary Drive (D:)

Microsoft published its Microsoft server software support for Windows Azure Virtual Machines here.

The article states:
Microsoft supports Microsoft server software running in the Windows Azure Virtual Machine environments:

Microsoft BizTalk Server Microsoft BizTalk Server 2013 and later is supported.
Microsoft Dynamics GP Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 and later is supported.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 and later is supported.
Microsoft Forefront Identity Manager Microsoft Forefront Identity Manager 2010 R2 SP1 and later is supported.
Microsoft Project Server Microsoft Project Server 2013 and later is supported.
Microsoft SharePoint Server Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 and later is supported on Windows Azure Virtual Machines. For more information, please see
Microsoft SQL Server 64-bit versions of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and later are supported. Please see for details.
Microsoft System Center System Center 2012 SP1 and later is supported for the following applications:

  • App Controller
  • Operations Manager
  • Orchestrator
  • Server Application Virtualization
  • Service Manager

Microsoft Team Foundation Server Microsoft Team Foundation Server 2012 and later is supported.
Windows Server Roles Windows Server 2008 R2 and later versions are supported for the following roles.  This list will be updated as new roles are confirmed:

  • Active Directory Domain Services
  • Active Directory Federation Services
  • Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services
  • Application Server
  • DNS Server
  • File Services
  • Network Policy and Access Services
  • Print and Document Services
  • Web Server (IIS)
  • Windows Server Update Services

The following roles are not supported on Windows Azure Virtual Machines:

  • Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol Server
  • Hyper-V
  • Remote Access (Direct Access)
  • Windows Deployment Services

Windows Server Features Notable features that are not supported:

  • BitLocker Drive Encryption (on the OS disk – may be used on data disks)
  • Failover Clustering
  • Internet Storage Name Server
  • Multipath I/O
  • Network Load Balancing
  • Peer Name Resolution Protocol
  • SNMP Services
  • Storage Manager for SANs
  • Windows Internet Name Service
  • Wireless LAN Service

About Marcel van den Berg
I am a technical consultant with a strong focus on server virtualization, desktop virtualization, cloud computing and business continuity/disaster recovery.

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