It’s Probably Time to Upgrade Your Cloud VMs.

Cloud Computing

If you’ve been in Azure or Amazon for a few years, you’re probably on old, slow hardware.

In the last 3 weeks, I’ve had two clients who’d both been early cloud adopters. When they’d migrated to the cloud, they both used Azure Ev3 VMs – at the time, a good choice for SQL Server due to its relatively high amount of memory. When the Ev3 VM types were announced in 2017, they were hosted on Intel Broadwell and Haswell processors with 2.3-2.4GHz processing speed.

Since 2021, though, Azure’s newer Ev5 VMs are hosted on Intel Ice Lake processors that run up to 3.5 GHz, and in most cases, they cost the same. In my clients’ cases, both of them were starved for CPU cycles. By simply shutting down the SQL Server, changing its instance type through the portal, and then starting it back up, they were able to eliminate the CPU bottleneck without spending one more dollar.

Amazon, same story, especially in light of last week’s X2iedn announcement. If you’ve had the same VMs for several years, go to this handy EC2 instance comparison tool, note your instance type’s clock speed, and compare it to newer instance types.

In most cases, you can go faster for free.

You might ask, “Well, why isn’t the cloud provider fixing this for me? Why don’t they automatically move me to newer, faster instance types where it’s available?”

Think of it like renting a car. If you went to a car rental company back in 2017, and you rented a 2017 Toyota Camry, you were probably happy. Today, though, your Camry’s old, tired, and pales in comparison to what the car rental company has today. It’s up to you to take a pit stop at the car rental company and exchange keys.

Otherwise, you’re happily paying full price to rent a 2017 Camry.

And why on earth would they tell you about that? You’ve paid for that server many, many, many times over, and as long as you’re willing to keep doing that, hey, they’ll keep cashing your check.

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10 Comments. Leave new

  • Yup, ‘rightsizing’ and upgrading to newer generations can save costs too. Azure and AWS provide tools which can help you identify these opportunities:

    Azure Advisor / AWS Compute Optimizer

  • My Friend Andy Says:
    September 26, 2023 4:40 pm

    “You’ve paid for that server many, many, many times over, and as long as you’re willing to keep doing that, hey, they’ll keep cashing your check.” Even without having the hardware figures in front of me, I totally agree.
    Thank you for saying “a shutdown and move” is involved.” Only the price increase of supporting Server 2012 pried a few systems off of SQL 2012 and on to SQL2019/SQL 2022 – depending on vendor support.
    According to the YouTube channel “More than Moore” (aka Tech tech potato) there is more coming. A.I. is driving vector processing for more bandwidth. I hope that means databases get a boost.

  • Great post.

    Good Microsoft video on azure sql vm sizing : (V5 is out now so V4 is no longer the latest).

  • It’s been my experience in the Azure portal that “they do tell you about that” when there is an offering that could provide additional benefits. The App Service plans blade did this regularly when we were running Standard plans and it prompted us that we could run a Premium plan (better performance for the same price). We’ve since upgraded all of them to Premium plans. I do have a reminder to check the Azure advisor for other offerings. I would say this kind of messaging has gotten better in the Azure portal in the last couple of years than when I first started using it.

  • I’ll have you know…. I love my Camry! 35 MPG and it’s a manual. Almost 200k miles and still going.

    Wait, where am I again?

  • Agree: the cloud or hosting service provider makes the most by running the same hardware for several years and letting customers pay for it over and over again.

    This is why we are moving from hosted services to our own hardware. This way we pay only once for the hardware and most licenses.

    “Won’t your hardware get old?”
    Yes it will, but so has the hosted service gotten old. We are now running our VMs on six year old environment but paying for it monthly like it was new.

  • Heh… “A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.” 😛

  • The only issue is AWS doesn’t offer dedicated hosts with all their neat new instance types.

  • When AWS made ARM CPU VMs available switching gave a significant benefit in costs.
    There are also differences in storage options available too.
    If your reserve an AWS instance then there accountancy mechanisms that can be beneficial too (OpEx, CapEx etc).
    If you reserve an instance for 3 years but want to upgrade early then there are trade in options too.


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