Microsoft has announced that Accelerated Networking (AN) has now become generally and widely available for Azure virtual machines (VMs) on both Windows and latest Linux distributions operating systems.
According to Microsoft’s blog post, the Accelerated Networking will provide up to 30Gbps in networking throughput, by offloading much of Azure’s software-defined networking (SDN) stack from the CPUs and on FPGA-based SmartNICs, thus putting less load on the VM, decreasing jitter and inconsistency in latency.
By making it generally and widely available, Microsoft has removed region limitations and made it available on supported D/DSv2, D/DSv3, E/ESv3, F/FS, FSv2, and Ms/Mms VM series. The Accelerated Networking must be deployed through Microsoft’s own Azure Resource Manager and it is a bit limited since it can’t be used with older VMs or without the fancy new FPGA-based SmartNIC.
As noted, it works on Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2012R2 as well as Ubuntu 16.04, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.4, CentOS 7.4 (distributed by Rogue Wave Software), and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 SP3, all working out of the box with no further setup steps needed.
The launch announced earlier in January comes at a good time due to the big impact that Meltdown and Spectre CPU bugs have caused. While these are no longer a big security issue, the OS updates have a performance impact on some systems, depending on the actual amount and type of workload.
Although Microsoft claimed that most Azure customers should not see a noticeable performance impact, a small set of customers that actually experience the performance impact can use Azure Accelerated Networking, which is a free capability available to all Azure customers, to address these issues.
Although Microsoft is pushing hard to provide further performance improvements to its Azure cloud computing service, it still has a long way to catch Amazon’s AWS.