Set up and Manage Azure Dedicated Host
Deploy your own dedicated servers in the cloud with Azure Dedicated Host. Run apps and services just as you would on premises, but with the added flexibility and operational savings that come with running your workloads in Azure.
An Azure Dedicated Host is dedicated to your organization and only hosts your workloads. Azure VMs run on virtualized hardware on top of a host hypervisor, and you can fill your dedicated host with different VM sizes until you run out of space.
Azure expert, Matt McSpirit, shows how to set up and manage Azure Dedicated Host.
Protect your entire virtual machine with Confidential VMs.
See how to deploy Confidential VMs to Azure Dedicated Hosts in a hardware-isolated environment.
Run Virtual Machine Scale Sets on Azure Dedicated Hosts.
Apply availability, management, scaling and orchestration policies as a group. Set it up.
Unlimited Virtualization Rights.
Pay as you go with Azure Hybrid Benefit. Get started deploying dedicated servers in the cloud with Azure Dedicated Host.
Watch our video here.
00:00 — Introduction
00:22 — What is an Azure Dedicated Host?
02:35 — Set it up
04:28 — Additional protections
05:55 — Scale sets
07:10 — Manage your dedicated host
07:50 — Cost effectiveness
09:14 — Wrap up
Information on Azure Dedicated Host at https://aka.ms/DedicatedHostMechanics
Watch the rest of our series at https://aka.ms/AzureComputeMechanics
Guidance for the number of VMs to run on your host at https://aka.ms/AzureDedicatedHostSKU
Watch more on scale sets at https://aka.ms/ScaleSetMechanics
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Matt McSpirit (00:02):
Welcome to Azure Essentials. In the next few minutes, we’ll take a closer look at how you can deploy your own dedicated servers in the cloud with Azure Dedicated Host. I’ll show you how Azure Dedicated Host gives you the freedom to run your apps and services just as you would on premises, but with the added flexibility and operational savings that come with running your workloads in Azure.
So what is an Azure Dedicated Host? Well, let’s start with the concept of a host or hosting. Each time you provision Azure VMs in the cloud, they’re assigned to a host server in an Azure data center. As a multi-tenant service, as other customers spin up VMs, so long as there’s capacity, Azure can assign their VMs to the same host, and these neighboring VMs share the same host with you. Each VM runs isolated from each other via the hypervisor and operates in their own software-defined network.
With an Azure Dedicated Host, on the other hand, that same host server in a Microsoft data center, is dedicated to your organization and it only hosts your workloads. To be clear, this isn’t a bare metal solution. Your Azure VMs still run on virtualized hardware on top of the host hypervisor, and because you’re buying up the capacity of the host, you can fill your dedicated host with different VM sizes of the same series until you run out of space, and you’re just paying for the host regardless of how many VMs are deployed. Billing is hourly, and you only pay for the host for as long as you keep it. So why choose this option? Well, there may be a number of reasons where you prefer a single tenant or dedicated host, such as in the case of regulatory compliance, where your industry, organization or even customers require hardware isolation of your workload. Or there may be cases, for example, if you’re running a performance sensitive financial platform with low latency requirements. Host level isolation can give you more peace of mind during peak compute times.
In fact, to avoid unplanned disruptions, you’ve got the added option of deferring maintenance updates by specifying your preferred schedule within a 35 day window. That said, your motivations for shifting to an Azure Dedicated Host may just come down to preference, where you just want hardware isolation of your workload from others, whatever the reason, Azure Dedicated Host now gives you a path to the cloud and all the operational efficiencies that you can gain. And unlike your data center on premises, you can always provision your workloads on state-of-the-art hardware, which helps you to maximize the efficiency and price performance of what you can run on your host. Importantly, you can also achieve this cost effectively, but more on that in a moment. Having Azure Dedicated Host is almost like having your very own private cloud in Azure.
So what’s it take to set it up? Well, the good news is Azure Dedicated Hosts work by using the same VM constructs in Azure. You can provision them from the Azure portal or from the command line interface, the CLI, and even firearm templates. And the same managing and monitoring capabilities apply. That said, the first thing you need to do is create your host group. In the Azure portal, you’ll enter some standard information along with the region that you want and an availability zone, and if you need more than one availability zone for greater resiliency, you just need to spin up another host group. Back in the portal, you’ve also got the option of ultra disk support, which provides sub millisecond latency and encryption for your most sensitive and demanding IO intensive workloads. And you can choose to distribute your host instances on up to five different fault domains. Think of these as different server racks. For example, if you add two fault domains and two dedicated host instances in your host group, these could be created on two different server racks in the Azure data center.
You can also opt for automatic host assignment where Azure will assign VMs to available hosts in the host group, and you can also target VMs to run on different hosts, but we’ll get to that in a second. Then by clicking review and create, your host group is ready to go. From there, you can create individual dedicated hosts and of course, place those into your host group. So in the Azure portal, once you’ve selected your host group, you just need to select your preferred dedicated host size, which will scope the VMs that can run on your host to the associated VM series. If you want to run different VM family types for your workloads, you need to create different hosts that support the VM series you want. Speaking of which, there are a number of VM families with various silicon choices supported by Azure Dedicated Hosts spanning general purpose VMs, memory and storage optimized VMs, CPU optimized VMs, for your compute intensive workloads, and GPU enabled ones, for workloads with remote visualization.
There’s also the Azure confidential computing family of VMs that provide additional protections whether you want to run confidential code and data inside of an application enclave that requires hardware enforced attestation to access it. Or you can protect your entire virtual machine, along with any containers, with confidential VMs. These also offer verifiable, remote attestation capabilities with a third party hardware root of trust. You can pick from the different hosts available for your VM series, and if you’re unsure of just how many VMs you can run on your host for the size and type, you can refer to the guidance at aka.ms/AzureDedicatedHostSKU. For example, here you can see by size the maximum number of VMs that you can pack onto a Dadsv5- Type1 host. Next, once your host group and host are created, as mentioned, you can now provision VMs to run on your hosts.
Again, these are still regular VMs and you can use Azure Resource Manager templates or Bicep to deploy them. Let’s again look at the experience in the Azure portal. The process for setting up a VM is similar to setting up your VMs in Azure, except you’ll pick the region and the availability zone that was set up in your host group, as well as the VM series supported by your dedicated host. Under advanced, you’ll select your host group, and here’s where you can pick the automatic VM placement option that we establish by default when setting up the host group. Or you can manually choose which hosts your VMs run on by picking the dedicated host in the host group that you want your VM to run on. Now, there’s one more thing to mention as part of the VM creation experience, and that’s the ability to provision virtual machine scale sets on your dedicated host.
These let you create and manage a group of virtual machines to run your app or workload on your dedicated host and provide sophisticated load balancing management and automation. They help you to establish a VM template with the characteristics you need for your apps and workloads to run reliably. This includes the VM image with support for Windows and Linux platform images, as well as your own custom images, the VM size, your networking parameters, the number of VM instances in the group. And with virtual machine extensions, you can also add post-deployment configuration like monitoring, anti malware, and automation. Then beyond consistent configurations, you can also use VM scale sets for high availability. For example, if you’ve got several hosts, you can automatically distribute multiple VM instances to data centers in your availability zone in minutes. Then for auto scale, if you have multiple hosts based on load, you can burst from one host to another with the same VM series. In fact, you can watch aka.ms/ScaleSetMechanics to learn more about them. And lastly, if you’re working with AKS, you can also build your node pools with a dedicated host to run your containers.
Next, let’s talk about management. You can check the health of your hosts using Azure Monitor to set up alerts on your host. This can be done either from the Azure portal or by using an Azure Resource Manager template as part of automated provisioning, so you can get timely notifications. And as part of your troubleshooting, you can also easily restart your host whenever you need to. In addition, you can monitor utilization and the health of the VMs on your host within Azure Monitor. Ultimately, because you’re paying for the host, you want to make sure that you’re maximizing host utilization, by looking at how many allocatable VMs you have left. And of course, you can move or delete the associate VMs and delete an idle host as you need to.
That said, one of the biggest levers you have for cost effectiveness as you move to Azure Dedicated Hosts is the Azure Hybrid Benefit. When you apply your existing window server data center licenses or SQL Server Enterprise edition licenses with software assurance to all the physical cores available to you on any given dedicated host server, you’re granted unlimited virtualization rights. This is a great benefit that can substantially reduce costs. So here’s an example with a Dsv3 Type-4 dedicated host running five Windows server VMs, and the current total price is almost $8,400 US dollars per month. Now, as I apply the Windows server data center license, lowering licensing costs to zero, this brings my total to around $4,500 due to the unlimited virtualization rights. Then in addition to pay as you go pricing, you can use savings plans to reduce costs further. In this case though, I’m going to pick reserved instances.
Notice the price goes down to around $2,700 using a one year reservation and three years takes costs down to just over $1,700 compared to the $8,400 price tag that we started with, which in our case represents an 80% reduction. And one more thing, if you’re just getting started, you can concurrently use your on-premises license servers along with Azure Dedicated Hosts and use the same licenses for up to 180 days.
So that was a quick overview on how Azure Dedicated Hosts can help you to deploy your own dedicated servers in the cloud. To learn more, check out aka.ms/DedicatedHostMechanics. You can also watch the rest of our series at aka.msAzureComputeMechanics. Don’t forget to subscribe to us if you haven’t already, and thanks for watching.