Preview: Azure Dedicated Hosts

Azure Dedicated Host is a service that provides physical servers - able to host one or more virtual machines - dedicated to one Azure subscription. Dedicated hosts are the same physical servers used in our data centers, provided as a resource. You can provision dedicated hosts within a region, availability zone, and fault domain. Then, you can place VMs directly into your provisioned hosts, in whatever configuration best meets your needs.

Important

Azure Dedicated Hosts is currently in public preview. This preview version is provided without a service level agreement, and it's not recommended for production workloads. Certain features might not be supported or might have constrained capabilities. For more information, see Supplemental Terms of Use for Microsoft Azure Previews.

Known preview limitations

  • Virtual machine scale sets are not currently supported on dedicated hosts.
  • The preview initial release supports the following VM series: DSv3 and ESv3.
  • During the preview, you won't be able to resize a virtual machine deployed to a dedicated host.
  • Control over maintenance capabilities is in a limited preview. Start by taking this nomination survey to try them out.
    During the preview we won't be offering the option for reserved capacity.

Benefits

Reserving the entire host provides the following benefits:

  • Hardware isolation at the physical server level. No other VMs will be placed on your hosts. Dedicated hosts are deployed in the same data centers and share the same network and underlying storage infrastructure as other, non-isolated hosts.
  • Control over maintenance events initiated by the Azure platform. While the majority of maintenance events have little to no impact on your virtual machines, there are some sensitive workloads where each second of pause can have an impact. With dedicated hosts, you can opt-in to a maintenance window to reduce the impact to your service.
  • With the Azure hybrid benefit, you can bring your own licenses for Windows and SQL to Azure. Using the hybrid benefits provides you with additional benefits. For more information, see Azure Hybrid Benefit.

Groups, hosts, and VMs

View of the new resources for dedicated hosts.

A host group is a resource that represents a collection of dedicated hosts. You create a host group in a region and an availability zone, and add hosts to it.

A host is a resource, mapped to a physical server in an Azure data center. The physical server is allocated when the host is created. A host is created within a host group. A host has a SKU describing which VM sizes can be created. Each host can host multiple VMs, of different sizes, as long as they are from the same size series.

When creating a VM in Azure, you can select which dedicated host to use for your VM. You have full control as to which VMs are placed on your hosts.

High Availability considerations

For high availability, you should deploy multiple VMs, spread across multiple hosts (minimum of 2). With Azure Dedicated Hosts, you have several options to provision your infrastructure to shape your fault isolation boundaries.

Use Availability Zones for fault isolation

Availability zones are unique physical locations within an Azure region. Each zone is made up of one or more datacenters equipped with independent power, cooling, and networking. A host group is created in a single availability zone. Once created, all hosts will be placed within that zone. To achieve high availability across zones, you need to create multiple host groups (one per zone) and spread your hosts accordingly.

If you assign a host group to an availability zone, all VMs created on that host must be created in the same zone.

Use Fault Domains for fault isolation

A host can be created in a specific fault domain. Just like VM in a scale set or availability set, hosts in different fault domains will be placed on different physical racks in the data center. When you create a host group, you are required to specify the fault domain count. When creating hosts within the host group, you assign fault domain for each host. The VMs do not require any fault domain assignment.

Fault domains are not the same as collocation. Having the same fault domain for two hosts does not mean they are in proximity with each other.

Fault domains are scoped to the host group. You should not make any assumption on anti-affinity between two host groups (unless they are in different availability zones).

VMs deployed to hosts with different fault domains, will have their underlying managed disks services on multiple storage stamps, to increase the fault isolation protection.

Using Availability Zones and Fault Domains

You can use both capabilities together to achieve even more fault isolation. In this case, you will specify the availability zone and fault domain count in for each host group, assign a fault domain to each of your hosts in the group, and assign an availability zone to each of your VMs

The Resource Manager sample template found here uses zones and fault domains to spread hosts for maximum resiliency in a region.

Maintenance control

The infrastructure supporting your virtual machines may occasionally be updated to improve reliability, performance, security, and to launch new features. The Azure platform tries to minimize the impact of platform maintenance whenever possible, but customers with maintenance sensitive workloads can't tolerate even few seconds that the VM needs to be frozen or disconnected for maintenance.

Maintenance Control provides customers with an option to skip regular platform updates scheduled on their dedicated hosts, then apply it at the time of their choice within a 35-day rolling window.

Note

Maintenance control is currently in a limited preview stage and requires an onboarding process. Apply for this preview by submitting a nomination survey.

Capacity considerations

Once a dedicated host is provisioned, Azure assigns it to physical server. This guarantees the availability of the capacity when you need to provision your VM. Azure uses the entire capacity in the region (or zone) to pick a physical server for your host. It also means that customers can expect to be able to grow their dedicated host footprint without the concern of running out of space in the cluster.

Quotas

There is a default quota limit of 3000 vCPUs for dedicated hosts, per region. But, the number of hosts you can deploy is also limited by the quota for the VM size family used for the host. For example, a Pay-as-you-go subscription may only have a quota of 10 vCPUs available for the Dsv3 size series, in the East US region. In this case, you need to request a quota increase to at least 64 vCPUs before you can deploy a dedicated host. Select the Request increase button in the upper right corner to file a request if needed.

Screenshot of the usage and quotas page in the portal

For more information, see Virtual machine vCPU quotas.

Pricing

Users are charged per dedicated host, regardless how many VMs are deployed. In your monthly statement you will see a new billable resource type of hosts. The VMs on a dedicated host will still be shown in your statement, but will carry a price of 0.

The host price is set based on VM family, type (hardware size), and region. A host price is relative to the largest VM size supported on the host.

Software licensing, storage and network usage are billed separately from the host and VMs. There is no change to those billable items.

For more information, see Azure Dedicated Host pricing.

VM families and Hardware generations

A SKU is defined for a host and it represents the VM size series and type. You can mix multiple VMs of different sizes within a single host as long as they are of the same size series. The type is the hardware generation currently available in the region.

Different types for the same VM series will be from different CPU vendors and have different CPU generations and number of cores.

Refer to the host pricing page to learn more.

During the preview, we will support the following host SKU\types: DSv3_Type1 and ESv3_Type1

Host life cycle

Azure monitors and manages the health status of your hosts. The following states will be returned when you query your host:

Health State Description
Host Available There are no known issues with your host.
Host Under Investigation We’re having some issues with the host which we’re looking into. This is a transitional state required for Azure to try and identify the scope and root cause for the issue identified. Virtual machines running on the host may be impacted.
Host Pending Deallocate Azure can’t restore the host back to a healthy state and ask you to redeploy your virtual machines out of this host. If autoHealingOnFailure is enabled, your virtual machines are service healed to healthy hardware. Otherwise, your virtual machine may be running on a host that is about to fail.
Host deallocated All virtual machines have been removed from the host. You are no longer being charged for this host since the hardware was taken out of rotation.

Next steps

  • You can deploy a dedicated host using Azure PowerShell, the portal, and Azure CLI.

  • There is sample template, found here, that uses both zones and fault domains for maximum resiliency in a region.