Microsoft offers a wide selection of machine types to use in Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) Deployments. The machines range from small and cheap, up to massive multi-processor servers capable of supporting the most complex workloads. It's important to pick the right machine type that offers performance and affordable costs. People often think that cloud is cheap, but that's only under certain conditions.
I recently learned this lesson as I was working though a SQL Server IaaS tutorial. The tutorial recommended a DS2_v2 server. The estimated cost to run that server at the time I set it up was $187.49. A slightly more updated version of that server, the DS2_v3 was less expensive coming in at an estimated cost of $139.87. A little more digging led me to the B2ms at a super low $73.66.
Option 1 DS2_v2 @ $187.49
Option 2 DS2_v3 @ $139.87
Option 3 B2ms @ $73.66
Why the Cost Difference?
Microsoft appears to periodically review options and adjust pricing lower in favor of the customer. This is possibly due to the amount of competition from AWS, Google, Oracle, and others. From what I can tell, the difference between the DS2_v2 and DS2_v3 is that the v3 version is just a more recent option. It's better in almost every way, and yet it's cheaper. This is a great example for those who champion cloud.
The B Series option, labeled "Option 3" is a different story. The B Series servers are designed to be lower usage servers that are "burstable" as the need arises. Microsoft describes them like this "... The B-series VMs are ideal for workloads that do not need the full performance of the CPU continuously, like web servers, small databases and development and test environments. These workloads typically have burstable performance requirements."
While this isn't necessarily idea for production workloads, this is sufficient for many test / dev / and proof-of-concept (POC) environments. Incidentally, my Azure personal use account is exclusively for POC and learning scenarios. Being able to validate ideas for more than half price is fantastic.
What did I learn?
I learned to always look for options. Pricing and options in the cloud can and do change quickly. Always be on the lookout for better options.
J. (n.d.). B-series Azure Windows VM sizes. Retrieved from https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/virtual-machines/windows/b-series-burstable