|By Kevin Remde||
|January 5, 2013 09:08 AM EST||
“But it’s not really that easy, is it? I’ve had a heckuva time trying to make this work!”
Actually, once the preliminaries are in place, it is easy. But to upload anything from your local machine into a Windows Azure storage account requires you to connect to your Azure account.. which means having a management certificate in place to authenticate the connection.. which is a process that is hard to discover. Searching for a quick solution was confusing, because the tools are always changing.. and what was required several months ago isn’t necessarily the easiest way to do this.
This leads me to a little disclaimer, which really could apply to every single article written for this series:
This documentation provided is based on current tools as they exist during the Windows Azure Virtual Machine PREVIEW period. Capabilities and operations are subject to change without notice prior to the release and general availability of these new features.
That said, I’m going to try to make this process as simple as possible, and leave you not only with the ability to launch a VM from your own uploaded .VHD (virtual hard disk) file, but also leave you in good shape for using some pretty useful tools (such as Windows PowerShell) for managing your Windows Azure-based resources.
The rest of this article assumes that you already have a Windows Azure subscription. If you don’t have one, you can start a FREE 90 TRIAL HERE.
Create a local VM using Hyper-V
I’m going to assume that you know how to use Hyper-V to create a virtual machine. You can do this in Hyper-V running on Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2012. You could even use Hyper-V installed on Windows 8. The end result should be that you have a virtual machine installed as you want it, sysprepped (important!), and ready to go. It’s that machine’s .VHD (the virtual hard disk) file that you’re going to be uploading into Windows Azure storage.
If you want further help building and preparing a virtual machine, check out the first part of this article on how to build a VM: Creating and Uploading a Virtual Hard Disk that Contains the Windows Server Operating System
NOTE: If you’re going to use one of the storage exploring tools I will be mentioning later, you will want to create your disk as (or convert your disk to) a fixed-format VHD. This is because those tools won’t convert the disk file on the fly, and the disk in Windows Azure storage is required to be a fixed disk (as opposed to a dynamic disk, which is the default).
Setup Windows Azure Management
Before we can connect to our Windows Azure storage and start uploading, we need to have a management certificate in place, as well as the tools for doing the upload installed.
Although there are manual ways of creating and uploading a self-signed certificate, the easiest method is to use the Windows Azure PowerShell cmdlets. Here is the download location for those:
Windows Azure PowerShell: https://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/manage/downloads/
Note that although the page says that it’s the November 2012 release, it actually gives you the December 2012 release. That’s important, because the extremely beneficial Add-AzureVHD PowerShell cmdlet was only introduced in December.
Once those are installed, you can follow the instructions here:
Get Started with Windows Azure Cmdlets: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windowsazure/jj554332.aspx
Specifically THIS SECTION which describes how to use the Get-AzurePublishSettingsFile, which generates a certificate in Windows Azure and creates a local “.publishsettings” file that is then imported locally using the Import-AzurePublishSettingsFile cmdlet. Once that’s done, you’ll have the management certificate in place locally as well as in your Azure account. And the best part is, this relationship is persistent! From this point on the opening of the Windows Azure PowerShell window will be properly associated with your account.
For a really great write-up on setting up and using PowerShell for Windows Azure, check out Michael Washam’s excellent article HERE.
Create an Azure Storage Account
If you have already created a virtual machine in Windows Azure, then you already have a storage account and container that you can use to hold your disks. But if you haven’t already done this, you will want to go into your portal and create one.
At the bottom of the portal, click “+ New”, and then choose Data Services –> Storage –> Quick Create
You’ll give your storage a unique name and choose geographical location, and then create it.
Once it’s created, select the new storage account and create a new “Blob Container” by selecting the CONTAINERS tab, and then clicking “CREATE A BLOB CONTAINER”.
Note the URL. Copy it to the clipboard or otherwise keep it handy. This URL will be used when we upload our VHD.
Upload the Hard Disk into Windows Azure Storage Container
“Kevin.. you also mentioned that we’ll need some tool to do the actual uploads.”
That’s right. Until recently, the only tool provided by Microsoft for doing this is the “csupload” tool, which is a commandline utility that is installed with the Windows Azure SDK. (Windows Azure Tools: http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/develop/downloads/ – But don’t install it just yet… it installs much more than you need to complete this exercise.)
Once the SDK is installed, and you have the SubscriptionID and the Certificate Thumbprint for your connection, you open the Windows Azure Command Prompt and use the csupload command in two steps: to setup the connection, and to do the upload. Here is the text from the article, Creating and Uploading a Virtual Hard Disk that Contains the Windows Server Operating System , which describes how to use the csupload tool.
All that said… DON’T DO IT! Unless you’re a developer, the Windows Azure SDK is much more than you need!
“So what’s the alternative, Kevin?”
PowerShell! Yes.. you already have the PowerShell for Windows Azure installed, so now you’re going to use two PowerShell CmdLets: Add-AzureVHD and Add-AzureDisk.
Add-AzureVHD is the upload. This is the one that takes a LONG TIME to run (depending on the size of your .VHD and your upstream connection speed). The result is that you have a new Page Blob object up in your storage.
Add-AzureDisk essentially tells Windows Azure to treat that new blob as a .VHD file that has a bootable operating system in it. Once that’s done, you can go into the Windows Azure Portal, create a new machine, and see your disk as one of the machine disks available.
So in my example, with a fresh, sysprepped, fixed-disk (10GB) .VHD installation of Windows Server 2012, I run these two commands:
Add-AzureVhd -Destination http://kevremdiskstorage.blob.core.windows.net/mydisks/SmallTestServer.vhd -LocalFilePath d:\SmallTestServer.vhd
Add-AzureDisk -DiskName SmallTestServer -MediaLocation http://kevremdiskstorage.blob.core.windows.net/mydisks/SmallTestServer.vhd -OS Windows
(Of course, the first one takes quite a while for me. About 13 hours. Ugh.)
“Hey Kevin.. what if I want to use and re-use that image as the basis for multiple machines?”
Excellent question! And the good news is that basically instead of using Add-AzureDisk, you use the Add-AzureVMImage CmdLet to tell Windows Azure that the disk should be made available as a re-usable image. Like this:
Add-AzureVMImage -ImageName Server2012Eval -MediaLocation http://kevremdiskstorage.blob.core.windows.net/mydisks/SmallTestServer.vhd -OS Windows
Once that’s done, instead of just having a disk to use once for a new machine, I have a starting-point for one or more machines.
Create the Machine
In the portal it’s really no more complex than creating a new machine from the gallery:
Your disk should show up towards the bottom of the list. Select it, and build your machine.
Once created, you should be able to start it as if it were any other machine built from a previoulsy installed disk.
If you chose to add your disk as an image in the repository, then you also could create it using QUICK CREATE, because it is an image that is now available for you to use and re-use.
As long as we’re discussing working with Windows Azure Storage, here are a couple of tools that make it easier to manage, navigate, and upload/download items in your storage cloud:
Both have free trials, and aren’t really all that expensive. I’ve had mixed results, and you have to be careful that you’re creating “page blobs” and not “block blobs”. And with a slow upload connection, these tools are rather fragile. Benefit – Both of these allow you to configure a connection to your Windows Azure subscription and multiple storage accounts in order to upload and download your .VHD files. For our purposes, these will do what the Add-AzureVHD cmdlet did for us, plus let you create or manage storage containers. You’ll still need to run the Add-AzureDisk and Add-AzureVMImage commands to configure your disks for use.
(Major kudos to Joerg of ClumsyLeaf Software (makers of CloudXplorer), who answered my support questions in a matter of minutes! And on a Saturday, no less!)
What do you think? Are you going to try this out? At the very least I hope that this article helps you get PowerShell configured for working with your Windows Azure objects. Give us your questions or feedback in the comments.
The OpenStack cloud operating system includes Trove, a database abstraction layer. Rather than applications connecting directly to a specific type of database, they connect to Trove, which in turn connects to one or more specific databases. One target database is Postgres Plus Cloud Database, which includes its own RESTful API. Trove was originally developed around MySQL, whose interfaces are significantly less complicated than those of the Postgres cloud database. In his session at 16th Cloud...
May. 25, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,693
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading in...
May. 25, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,001
SAP is delivering break-through innovation combined with fantastic user experience powered by the market-leading in-memory technology, SAP HANA. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP, discussed how SAP and partners provide cloud and hybrid cloud solutions as well as real-time Big Data offerings that help companies of all sizes and industries run better. SAP launched an application challenge to award the most innovative SAP HANA and SAP HANA...
May. 25, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,296
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Ar...
May. 25, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 4,958
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding bu...
May. 25, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 4,582
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo, June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enter...
May. 25, 2015 01:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,449
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, a...
May. 25, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 6,453
There is no doubt that Big Data is here and getting bigger every day. Building a Big Data infrastructure today is no easy task. There are an enormous number of choices for database engines and technologies. To make things even more challenging, requirements are getting more sophisticated, and the standard paradigm of supporting historical analytics queries is often just one facet of what is needed. As Big Data growth continues, organizations are demanding real-time access to data, allowing immed...
May. 25, 2015 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 3,282
SYS-CON Events announced today that DragonGlass, an enterprise search platform, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. After eleven years of designing and building custom applications, OpenCrowd has launched DragonGlass, a cloud-based platform that enables the development of search-based applications. These are a new breed of applications that utilize a search index as their backbone for data...
May. 25, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,115
SYS-CON Events announced today that EnterpriseDB (EDB), the leading worldwide provider of enterprise-class Postgres products and database compatibility solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. EDB is the largest provider of Postgres software and services that provides enterprise-class performance and scalability and the open source freedom to divert budget from more costly traditiona...
May. 25, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,912
Gartner predicts that the bulk of new IT spending by 2016 will be for cloud platforms and applications and that nearly half of large enterprises will have cloud deployments by the end of 2017. The benefits of the cloud may be clear for applications that can tolerate brief periods of downtime, but for critical applications like SQL Server, Oracle and SAP, companies need a strategy for HA and DR protection. While traditional SAN-based clusters are not possible in these environments, SANless cluste...
May. 25, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,853
Discussions about cloud computing are evolving into discussions about enterprise IT in general. As enterprises increasingly migrate toward their own unique clouds, new issues such as the use of containers and microservices emerge to keep things interesting. In this Power Panel at 16th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will address the state of cloud computing today, and what enterprise IT professionals need to know about how the latest topics and trends affec...
May. 25, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,862
Software Defined Storage provides many benefits for customers including agility, flexibility, faster adoption of new technology and cost effectiveness. However, for IT organizations it can be challenging and complex to build your Enterprise Grade Storage from software. In his session at Cloud Expo, Paul Turner, CMO at Cloudian, looked at the new Original Design Manufacturer (ODM) market and how it is changing the storage world. Now Software Defined Storage companies can build Enterprise grade ...
May. 25, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,685
To manage complex web services with lots of calls to the cloud, many businesses have invested in Application Performance Management (APM) and Network Performance Management (NPM) tools. Together APM and NPM tools are essential aids in improving a business's infrastructure required to support an effective web experience... but they are missing a critical component - Internet visibility. Internet connectivity has always played a role in customer access to web presence, but in the past few years u...
May. 25, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 5,774
There's Big Data, then there's really Big Data from the Internet of Things. IoT is evolving to include many data possibilities like new types of event, log and network data. The volumes are enormous, generating tens of billions of logs per day, which raise data challenges. Early IoT deployments are relying heavily on both the cloud and managed service providers to navigate these challenges. In her session at Big Data Expo®, Hannah Smalltree, Director at Treasure Data, discussed how IoT, Big D...
May. 25, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,308
SYS-CON Events announced today that MetraTech, now part of Ericsson, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Ericsson is the driving force behind the Networked Society- a world leader in communications infrastructure, software and services. Some 40% of the world’s mobile traffic runs through networks Ericsson has supplied, serving more than 2.5 billion subscribers.
May. 25, 2015 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,777
In their general session at 16th Cloud Expo, Michael Piccininni, Global Account Manager – Cloud SP at EMC Corporation, and Mike Dietze, Regional Director at Windstream Hosted Solutions, will review next generation cloud services, including the Windstream-EMC Tier Storage solutions, and discuss how to increase efficiencies, improve service delivery and enhance corporate cloud solution development. Speaker Bios Michael Piccininni is Global Account Manager – Cloud SP at EMC Corporation. He has b...
May. 25, 2015 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,701
There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. 8th International Big Data Expo, co-located with 17th International Cloud Expo - to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - has announced its Call for Papers is open. As advanced data storage, access and analytics technologies aimed at handling high-volume and/or fast moving data all move center stage, aided by the cloud computing bo...
May. 25, 2015 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,981
Cloud services are the newest tool in the arsenal of IT products in the market today. These cloud services integrate process and tools. In order to use these products effectively, organizations must have a good understanding of themselves and their business requirements. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Brian Lewis, Principal Architect at Verizon Cloud, outlined key areas of organizational focus, and how to formalize an actionable plan when migrating applications and internal services to the ...
May. 25, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,804
"We have developers who are really passionate about getting their code out to customers, no matter what, in the shortest possible time. Operations are very focused on procedures and policies," explained Stan Klimoff, CTO of Qubell, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
May. 25, 2015 06:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,987