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My experience working with Virtual Machine

Hello friends,


Three months ago I started working with Azure VM for my Power BI work.

I'll share some of my own experience, and would like to hear from others, too.

My home PC has 16 GB and for several of my large models it's not enough.

So I started thinking to upgrade and checked some of powerful laptops - I wanted something with lots of memory and good CPU.

The prices were $2,500 +. That's a lot for the power I just needed occasionally.

For 90% of my work my current laptop is more than sufficient.


This is when I started to check the option of using a VM.

I don't need the VM 24/7, but only when I change something in one of my large models, so I wanted a flexible payment per hour.

I am not familiar with hardware that much, I am more a BI/Data oriented person, so everything I tried and played with is based only on my own experience and understanding - don't take anything for given.


First, I tried "Virtual Desktop" and it was very complicated to set up, so I gave up.


Then I tried a VM - I think it was "Data Science" machine d8 v3 / d8s v3 and e4-2ds (I don't actually know what all of these numbers mean), but it was slow... and expensive i think.


Then I tried the one I am still using now (for 3 months now) - Standard B16ms.

It has 16 vcpus (whatever that means) and 64 GiB memory.

It is fast, plenty of memory for my large models.

I pay approx. $0.8 per actual working hour. I do my work, publish .pbix to the service and switch it off.

I don't pay anything for VM when I don't actually use it.

I connect to it via RDP remote desktop, it is very convenient, directly from Azure portal.

There is an option to also connect via browser - even for iPads (though I haven't tried it).


On this VM I installed VPN connections to connect to my clients data from the PBI Desktop - works fine.

I do not have Gateways installed there, the Gateways are installed on my clients' servers.

You can install there anything you want including Gateways (but you'll need to keep it alive 24/7 then).


I use managed Premium SSD 32GB disk, it costs $5.81 a month. This is my only fixed cost. (The VM usage is per used hour only).

Maybe there is a way to pay the storage also only per hour that VM was on, but I don't have time to explore it further...

This disk is only needed for programs installed on the VM - Windows, Power BI, Excel and others.

All my work files and .pbix models I keep in my OneDrive that I just synced to VM and also to my home PC, so I can work on them from any station.


So this is my setup.

If I work for example 10 hours a month on this VM it will cost me about $13 (5.81 for disk + 10*0.8 for VM)

I don't understand that much in hardware, I just played around until I found something that works for me.

If you want to play around - there is a $200 budget you receive to play with for a month when you sign up in Azure.

You can see daily cost summary so you know what costs what.

You can play around with all kinds of VM setups and see what works for you before you decide.


I would love to hear more experiences - what setup do you use for your work scenario?



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