There is a ton of online documentation about Windows Azure VMs that advise that static IP addresses are not supported and that one must rely on dynamic IP addresses since Windows Azure VMs will hold onto those IP addresses for the lifetime of the VM. Take for example this article about deploying AD on a Windows Azure Virtual Network which advises to even use dynamic IP addresses on a domain controller.

This used to be true! Well, it kind of still is….in some cases…

Recently Microsoft released a fantastic new feature which makes Windows Azure VMs that much more compelling for developers in that when a VM is shut down from the Windows Azure Portal (not from the guest operating system which still continues the previous behaviour) it now actually gets deallocated and thus you are not charged for those compute units. This is very attractive for developers with MSDN accounts (who recently had some major price discounts applied on their compute units and on many other Azure services as well) as they can now consider scaling up their development machines to higher levels and still stay within their account limits by shutting down and deallocating their machines when they are not in use.

 

VMs

One by-product of this change is that when a machine has been deallocated its IP address is no longer reserved for that machine and is put back into the pool of available IP addresses and will be assigned to the next machine that is allocated. Shutting down the machine via the guest operating system doesn’t deallocate the machine and thus this problem isn’t seen then. This issue can have significant impact if you have a domain controller/DNS server running on your Azure virtual network which you shut down and deallocate to save money.

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You can try to start up your deallocated machines in exactly the same order every single time to ensure that they get back the same IP address, or you can consider putting the domain controller/DNS server onto an isolated subnet of your virtual network so that there is no contention for its IP address.

If preserving an IP address if of major importance to you then you can either leave the Azure VMs running or always shut then down from the guest operating system rather than via the portal in which case the machine remains allocated and thus the IP address is preserved. Remember that even if the machine is shut down you will still be getting charged compute units if it isn’t deallocated.

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