The GPU-Cloud Era – Powered by Microsoft Azure N-Series

Announcing the general availability of Microsoft Azure N-Series for professional visualization - backed by NVIDIA GRID and NVIDIA Tesla GPUs
by Tony Paikeday

Whether it’s deep learning, virtual reality, or desktop transformation, the GPU is the cornerstone resource in every data center, and now the most important clouds. Our work with Microsoft builds on our vision of the GPU-accelerated cloud, which we announced in September. And it’s is a powerful addition to the roster of partners who’ve built cloud-hosted solutions on top of NVIDIA GRID, including Google and Amazon.

We’re excited about the continuation of that vision and momentum with today’s general availability of Microsoft Azure N-Series for professional visualization virtual machine instances – backed by NVIDIA GRID and NVIDIA Tesla GPUs.

“NVIDIA is a strategic technology partner to Microsoft, enabling the ubiquitous accessibility of NVIDIA GPUs to our customers and the most important enterprise workloads entrusted to the Microsoft Cloud. NVIDIA GRID makes GPU performance accessible to any application, via desktop and app virtualization deployments built on our GPU-backed NV-Series VMs, delivering scale, simplicity and cost-effective virtual workspaces from the cloud.” – Karan Batta, Product Manager, Microsoft Azure

Microsoft NV-Series VM's - built on NVIDIA GRID
Microsoft NV-Series VM’s – built on NVIDIA GRID

Leading clouds like Azure’s are proof-points of how the marketplace is tapping into the power of the GPU for the most important enterprise workloads. In fact, Azure is a great part of this taxonomy of GPU-powered cloud service providers quickly taking shape:

  • IaaS-based providers like Azure, that provide an enterprise-grade foundation of GPU-backed VMs for desktop and app virtualization, based on NVIDIA GRID
  • DaaS-based providers who deliver a complete GPU-powered VDI solution stack or build their offer on top of Azure NV-Series VMs
  • ISVs who want to cloud-enable their apps with GPU-backed VMs, and can similarly leverage Azure NV-Series to underpin their offers with a GPU-powered cloud

Delivering Modern Apps and Windows 10 – with Azure N-Series and Citrix XenDesktop

A new reality has settled-in for VDI implementers seeking to deliver a virtualized user experience that replicates physical. That’s the realization that today’s modern apps ranging from simple email, to office productivity suites, to multimedia, all demand a GPU to power them, just like apps running on a laptop or desktop. It therefore makes perfect sense that as organizations seek to cloud-host their apps and workspaces, a GPU is central to the architecture.

For example, more businesses are realizing the benefits of powering their own desktop virtualization deployments, delivering published (RDSH) apps or desktops via a GPU-backed session-host, running in the cloud. Combining Azure N-Series with Citrix XenApp deployments is a great way to achieve cost-effective scale of multi-user GPU virtualization technology, delivering a great user experience for every cloud-hosted app. Azure N-series can enhance the capabilities of existing Citrix Cloud services and upcoming new services like  Citrix Cloud XenApp Express and the new XenDesktop service for Windows 10.

Now organizations can leverage the cloud to support the two most important use cases requiring GPU-horsepower:

  1. Designers and other users with professional visualization workloads, can tap into Azure N-Series to get workstation-class performance with GRID and a Tesla M60-backed VM for graphics intensive use cases
  2. IT can now cost-effectively deliver an excellent Windows 10 user experience for knowledge workers and even task workers, from the cloud, powered by XenApp hosted on Azure N-Series running either Windows Server 2016 or Windows Server 2012 R2. Because each GPU-backed N-Series VM is shared by multiple concurrent users, this becomes a very cost-effective way to tap into the GPU-powered cloud for every worker, and any app. (Note: additional GRID virtual apps licensing is required for such deployments.)

“Citrix delivers high performance workspace virtualization solutions powered by our XenDesktop technology on Microsoft Azure. Together with Microsoft and NVIDIA, our customers will be able to leverage the cutting edge graphics performance of Azure NV-Series virtual machines, powered by NVIDIA GPUs, with our XenDesktop desktop virtualization solution. By providing Day 1 support of the Azure NV-Series virtual machines, once again our strategic partnership with Microsoft provides customers with rapid innovation.” – Calvin Hsu, Vice President of Product Marketing at Citrix Workspace Services.

In the coming months, look for more news from NVIDIA and our partners as we continue to build momentum with the GPU-accelerated cloud. In the meantime, learn more about the general availability of Azure N-Series VMs, backed by NVIDIA GRID here.