Welcome!

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud, Containers Expo Blog, @BigDataExpo, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Article

Getting Started with Windows Azure IaaS

Cloud computing is the next generation of computing and taking your first step into the cloud can be revolutionary for you

Based on Matt Hester's Cloud Expo Presentation: Overview of Windows Azure IaaS

Introducing the concept of cloud computing into your existing environments can seem to be a daunting task. Cloud computing is the next generation of computing and taking your first step into the cloud can be revolutionary for you and your company. The question you need to ask yourself is where to start? What are some of the low risk workloads that I can test the cloud with? More important, which cloud do you use as there are many different forms of clouds to choose from that could benefit your business. In this article we will take a look at some of the common clouds in today's computing world, and then we will focus in on using infrastructure as a service, as this probably provides the easiest entry point into the cloud.

Cloud Models
Before we dive into the clouds let's talk about simple models to help keep the clouds straight. There are four main models, and they all boil down to what is in your sphere of control. Clouds really should be considered as a "how" and not a "what." They are how you manage, automate and control your resources.

  • Private: This is your on premise datacenter. You control everything from the cabling to the applications. Private clouds are organized on how you provide workload automation for your environment
  • Software as a service (SaaS): SaaS is where you are essentially are paying someone else for the services normally on a monthly/user basis. There are a variety of examples of SaaS from consumer-based services like Xbox live or business based services like Office 365
  • Platform as a service (PaaS): PaaS is where you have control over the actual application and data; howeve, you rely on the cloud provider to provision the underlying supporting infrastructure. This allows your developers to write applications that take advantage of the elasticity of the cloud.
  • Infrastructure as a service (IaaS): IaaS allows you to control the application down to the underlying OS; however, the cloud provider manages the virtualization layer and the hardware. In this model you have full control of the virtual server running in the cloud. In a sense this is no different than other virtual servers running in your data center.

When you consider cloud providers, Microsoft is one of the few companies that can provide services across all the cloud models, and allows you choose what makes the most sense for you and your organization. With Windows Azure you will also find PaaS and IaaS services.

Most customers I talk with are not all in when it comes to the cloud. Fundamentally you will only use the cloud in two instances: to improve your bottom line or to improve your strategy. If you want to still maintain on-premise IT and combine it with a cloud model for a specific workload you can. I refer this to as hybrid, and in a sense you get the best of both worlds.

How you implement IaaS in your environment really depends on your needs. IaaS can encompass many different roles in your company, from directory services to backup to virtual machines. In this article we are going to focus on how to create your first virtual machine in Windows Azure IaaS, and along the way you will learn many of the aspects of Windows Azure Virtual Machines. Windows Azure virtual machines allow you to provision a fully functional server in the cloud. This is a server that you will have complete control over the operating system. You will need to provision any roles and services that you will need it to support just like any other server in your infrastructure.

Create a Windows Azure IaaS Virtual Machine
Getting started with Windows Azure IaaS is easy. The first thing you will want to do is sign up for a free Windows Azure trial, you can learn more here to get started: http://aka.ms/getazureiaas or you can visit the home page for Windows Azure here: http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/.

After you get your trial subscription you will then be able to immediately start using Windows Azure. While this focusses on just one workload, you do have access to all the workloads in Azure from web sites to mobile services to SQL Services and everything in between.

Let's get started with creating your first virtual machine. On the home page of Windows Azure, click on portal (in the upper right side of the page). This will take you to the Windows Azure management portal. While we will focus on the GUI, one important note before you start is that everything you can do in the GUI portal can be scripted with PowerShell.

  1. In the Windows Azure Management portal click + NEW in the lower left hand corner.
  2. In the New selection window, select COMPUTE, select VIRTUAL MACHINE and select FROM GALLERY, this will launch the Create a Virtual Machine wizard
  3. In the first part of the wizard you will need to choose an image to start. Note there are several images to choose from including many Linux versions, SQL, Oracle, SharePoint and Visual Studio. These templates make it easy for you start with a prebuilt environment. For the purpose of the article select Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter and click the arrow in the lower right hand corner to proceed to the next step.
  4. In the Virtual machine configuration screen you will be asked to give your virtual machine a name, choose a size, set the administrative user name, and password. Before you fill in the wizard it is important to understand some of the choices as it will control the overall security of your virtual machine as well as performance and cost.
    -First, regarding security your user name cannot be a common administrative name, like admin, administrator, root, etc. Make sure you choose a secure name. The same goes for the password; it has to be strong; it cannot be blank; it has to be 8 characters, upper and lower case, number and a special character. Additionally the password cannot be a variation of the word ‘password'.
    -Second, regarding the size of system you have a choice of 8 configurations. The more memory and processor you select will increase the cost of running the virtual machine. Note, the Windows Operating System license is covered in the cost of Windows Azure. You can use the calculator to get an estimate of costs here: http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/pricing/calculator/ . When you are done, click on the arrow to continue.
  5. The next screen has several choices that are important for your virtual machine, from the placement to the availability of your virtual machine. Some the choices could be a single article in and of themselves. For this you will get a brief look at them.
    a. Cloud Service:
    are containers for the virtual machines you will create. You have just a single virtual machine in a cloud service or several that are load balanced
    b. Cloud Service DNS Name:
    is the public DNS name given to your service, and by default ends in cloudapp.net. You can redirect to a preferred name.
    c. Region/Affinity Group/Virtual Network:
    these three choices control the placement of your virtual machines. Regions determine in which geographic location your virtual machines will be placed. Affinity groups are ways to group your cloud services for better performance. Affinity groups are associated with the same datacenter region; ultimately they will help improve performance and reduce latency. You can learn more about affinity groups here: Affinity Groups Overview. Virtual networks enable you to extend your enterprise networks into Azure, for your hybrid applications. They also allow you to set up secure private IPv4 networks contained in Windows Azure. The virtual networks allow you to create point-to-site VPN connections or site-to-site VPN Connections. You can learn more about virtual networks here: Virtual Networks Overview
    d. Storage Account:
    the virtual machines you create are essentially hyper-v machines and all the files you create the virtual machines, like the .vhd files, are stored in this account and by default there are three copies.
    e. Availability Set:
    provides fault tolerant placement to your virtual machine in the Windows Azure datacenters. This will help spread the virtual machines for your cloud services across fault and update domains.
    As you can see there are lots of choices to be made about creating your virtual machine. For this walk through, choose a region closest to you, leave the default choices and click on the arrow to go to the last step.
  6. The last step is to create endpoints. Endpoints allow you to access your Windows Azure virtual machines, not only for internal administrative access but also to allow external access to your Windows Azure virtual machines. By default you have two endpoints that are created for you. One for remote desktop access into the virtual machine and the other for PowerShell remoting. You can change the ports as needed. It is important to note that there are no external facing endpoints, which means if you were going to create a Web application you would need to create at least one more endpoint for that access either for port 80 or 443 for secure access. Additionally if you created virtual networks for your virtual machines, it provides an alternative administrative access method. The virtual networks allow you to create point-to-site VPN connections or site-to-site VPN Connections to connect to all of the virtual machines that are on the virtual network. When you're done click the checkmark to begin provisioning your virtual machine.

After you are done with the final step your virtual machine will be provisioned in about 10 minutes. Think about that for a second. In about 10 minutes you have a fully functioning server to run your workloads on. Once the virtual machine is finished being provisioned you will then need to connect to the virtual machine to provision it. You can connect to the virtual machine from the virtual machine's dashboard. To access the dashboard, select the virtual machine from your Windows Azure portal, and click on the dashboard on the menu below the virtual machine name. The dashboard provides a lot of useful information; you can get basic performance data of the virtual machine, as well configuration data (public and private IP address, DNS name, etc.). Also on the dashboard on the bottom of the screen you should see the connect option. Simple click connect and it will bring up the remote desktop connection program. Fill in your credentials you created above to log in and configure your virtual machine.

Hopefully you enjoyed creating your virtual machine. If you are ready for more, you may want to try another great aspect of using Windows Azure take a look at backing up your server to the cloud. If you want to learn how to do that, take a look here: Backup Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Azure

More Stories By Matt Hester

Matt Hester is a Senior Information Technology Professional Evangelist for Microsoft. Matt has been involved in the IT Pro community for over 20 years. Matt is a skilled and experienced evangelist presenting to audiences nationally and internationally. Prior to joining Microsoft Matt was a highly successful Microsoft Certified Trainer for over 8 years. After joining Microsoft, Matt has continued to be heavily involved in IT Pro community as an IT Pro Evangelist. In his role at Microsoft Matt has presented to audiences in excess of 5000 and as small as 10. Matt has written 4 articles for TechNet magazine. In addition Matt has published 3 books:

You can contact Matt off his blog at http://aka.ms/matthester

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Latest Stories
Information technology (IT) advances are transforming the way we innovate in business, thereby disrupting the old guard and their predictable status-quo. It’s creating global market turbulence. Industries are converging, and new opportunities and threats are emerging, like never before. So, how are savvy chief information officers (CIOs) leading this transition? Back in 2015, the IBM Institute for Business Value conducted a market study that included the findings from over 1,800 CIO interviews ...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
"We host and fully manage cloud data services, whether we store, the data, move the data, or run analytics on the data," stated Kamal Shannak, Senior Development Manager, Cloud Data Services, IBM, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
What sort of WebRTC based applications can we expect to see over the next year and beyond? One way to predict development trends is to see what sorts of applications startups are building. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Arin Sime, founder of WebRTC.ventures, will discuss the current and likely future trends in WebRTC application development based on real requests for custom applications from real customers, as well as other public sources of information,
Interoute has announced the integration of its Global Cloud Infrastructure platform with Rancher Labs’ container management platform, Rancher. This approach enables enterprises to accelerate their digital transformation and infrastructure investments. Matthew Finnie, Interoute CTO commented “Enterprises developing and building apps in the cloud and those on a path to Digital Transformation need Digital ICT Infrastructure that allows them to build, test and deploy faster than ever before. The int...
Whether you like it or not, DevOps is on track for a remarkable alliance with security. The SEC didn’t approve the merger. And your boss hasn’t heard anything about it. Yet, this unruly triumvirate will soon dominate and deliver DevSecOps faster, cheaper, better, and on an unprecedented scale. In his session at DevOps Summit, Frank Bunger, VP of Customer Success at ScriptRock, discussed how this cathartic moment will propel the DevOps movement from such stuff as dreams are made on to a practic...
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
For organizations that have amassed large sums of software complexity, taking a microservices approach is the first step toward DevOps and continuous improvement / development. Integrating system-level analysis with microservices makes it easier to change and add functionality to applications at any time without the increase of risk. Before you start big transformation projects or a cloud migration, make sure these changes won’t take down your entire organization.
"My role is working with customers, helping them go through this digital transformation. I spend a lot of time talking to banks, big industries, manufacturers working through how they are integrating and transforming their IT platforms and moving them forward," explained William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
With the introduction of IoT and Smart Living in every aspect of our lives, one question has become relevant: What are the security implications? To answer this, first we have to look and explore the security models of the technologies that IoT is founded upon. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nevi Kaja, a Research Engineer at Ford Motor Company, will discuss some of the security challenges of the IoT infrastructure and relate how these aspects impact Smart Living. The material will be delivered i...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ocean9will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Ocean9 provides cloud services for Backup, Disaster Recovery (DRaaS) and instant Innovation, and redefines enterprise infrastructure with its cloud native subscription offerings for mission critical SAP workloads.
Your homes and cars can be automated and self-serviced. Why can't your storage? From simply asking questions to analyze and troubleshoot your infrastructure, to provisioning storage with snapshots, recovery and replication, your wildest sci-fi dream has come true. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, will provide a ChatOps demo where you can talk to your storage and manage it from anywhere, through Slack and similar services ...
Imagine having the ability to leverage all of your current technology and to be able to compose it into one resource pool. Now imagine, as your business grows, not having to deploy a complete new appliance to scale your infrastructure. Also imagine a true multi-cloud capability that allows live migration without any modification between cloud environments regardless of whether that cloud is your private cloud or your public AWS, Azure or Google instance. Now think of a world that is not locked i...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Auditwerx will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Auditwerx specializes in SOC 1, SOC 2, and SOC 3 attestation services throughout the U.S. and Canada. As a division of Carr, Riggs & Ingram (CRI), one of the top 20 largest CPA firms nationally, you can expect the resources, skills, and experience of a much larger firm combined with the accessibility and atten...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Lachapelle, CEO of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), will provide an overview of various initiatives to certifiy the security of connected devices and future trends in ensuring public trust of IoT. Eric Lachapelle is the Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), an international certification body. His role is to help companies and individuals to achieve professional, accredited and worldw...