Reducing latency through Proximity Placement groups in Azure

As a followup to my earlier blog post on Accelerated networking on Azure i am looking at other options available in Azure to reduce latency for Azure VM’s.

When you place your Azure VM’s in a single region, the physical distance between VM’s is reduced. Placing them within a single availability zone is another step you can take to deploy your virtual machines closer to each other. However, as the Azure footprint grows, a single availability zone may span multiple physical data centres resulting in network latency that can impact your overall application performance. If a region does not support availability zones or if your application does not use availability zones, the latency between the application tiers may increase as a result.

Enabling Accelerated networking reduces latency for Azure VM’s to a certain extent but Proximity placement group(PPG) provides Azure Virtual Machine logical grouping capability to further decrease inter-VM network latency.

As per Microsoft documentation, PPG can be used in the following cases

  • Low latency between stand-alone VMs.
  • Low Latency between VMs in a single availability set or a virtual machine scale set.
  • Low latency between stand-alone VMs, VMs in multiple Availability Sets, or multiple scale sets. You can have multiple compute resources in a single placement group to bring together a multi-tiered application.
  • Low latency between multiple application tiers using different hardware types. 

For the scope of this blog post we will be looking at the point #02(PPG in a single availability set). In the case of availability sets and virtual machine scale sets, you should set the proximity placement group at the resource level rather than the individual virtual machines.

Please see the github repository here for more detailed deployment steps

When proximity groups are enabled along with accelerated networking and availability sets the latency improves from ~72.9 ms to ~68.8 ms for an average of 10 test results on a set of 2 D3v2 VM’s within a single region.

Proximity groups enables moving VM’s closer to reduce latency but it compromises High availability if the VM’s are not placed in availability zones. To address this issue proximity groups can also be configured such that the VM’s are placed in separate availability zones to provide HA.

Some best practices to follow while creating PPG’s for new or existing virtual machines here

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