Welcome!

@DXWorldExpo Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, William Schmarzo

Blog Feed Post

31 Days of Servers in the Cloud – Move a local VM to the Cloud (Part 5 of 31)

VMs up, up, and away!My turn!

In todays installment of our “31 Days of Servers in the Cloud”, we wanted to show you how easy it is to load a locally created, Hyper-V based virtual machine into Windows Azure.

“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

image

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”.

image

image

image

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:

image

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.

---

Other Errata

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.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Kevin Remde

Kevin is an engaging and highly sought-after speaker and webcaster who has landed several times on Microsoft's top 10 webcast list, and has delivered many top-scoring TechNet events and webcasts. In his past outside of Microsoft, Kevin has held positions such as software engineer, information systems professional, and information systems manager. He loves sharing helpful new solutions and technologies with his IT professional peers.

A prolific blogger, Kevin shares his thoughts, ideas and tips on his “Full of I.T.” blog (http://aka.ms/FullOfIT). He also contributes to and moderates the TechNet Forum IT Manager discussion (http://aka.ms/ITManager), and presents live TechNet Events throughout the central U.S. (http://www.technetevents.com). When he's not busy learning or blogging about new technologies, Kevin enjoys digital photography and videography, and sings in a band. (Q: Midlife crisis? A: More cowbell!) He continues to challenge his TechNet Event audiences to sing Karaoke with him.

DXWorldEXPO Digital Transformation Stories
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Ed Featherston has been named the "Tech Chair" of "FinTechEXPO - New York Blockchain Event" of CloudEXPO's 10-Year Anniversary Event which will take place on November 12-13, 2018 in New York City. CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York will present keynotes, general sessions, and more than 20 blockchain sessions by leading FinTech experts.
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ben Perlmutter, a Sales Engineer with IBM Cloudant, demonstrated techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user e...
Charles Araujo is an industry analyst, internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. As Principal Analyst with Intellyx, he writes, speaks and advises organizations on how to navigate through this time of disruption. He is also the founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation and a sought after keynote speaker. He has been a regular contributor to both InformationWeek and CIO Insight...
Bill Schmarzo, Tech Chair of "Big Data | Analytics" of upcoming CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York (November 12-13, 2018, New York City) today announced the outline and schedule of the track. "The track has been designed in experience/degree order," said Schmarzo. "So, that folks who attend the entire track can leave the conference with some of the skills necessary to get their work done when they get back to their offices. It actually ties back to some work that I'm doing at the University of ...
"Peak 10 is a national cloud data center solutions managed services provider, and part of that is disaster recovery. We see a growing trend in the industry where companies are coming to us looking for assistance in their DR strategy," stated Andrew Cole, Director of Solutions Engineering at Peak 10, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Rodrigo Coutinho is part of OutSystems' founders' team and currently the Head of Product Design. He provides a cross-functional role where he supports Product Management in defining the positioning and direction of the Agile Platform, while at the same time promoting model-based development and new techniques to deliver applications in the cloud.
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
The revocation of Safe Harbor has radically affected data sovereignty strategy in the cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Jeff Miller, Product Management at Cavirin Systems, discussed how to assess these changes across your own cloud strategy, and how you can mitigate risks previously covered under the agreement.
Digital Initiatives create new ways of conducting business, which drive the need for increasingly advanced security and regulatory compliance challenges with exponentially more damaging consequences. In the BMC and Forbes Insights Survey in 2016, 97% of executives said they expect a rise in data breach attempts in the next 12 months. Sixty percent said operations and security teams have only a general understanding of each other’s requirements, resulting in a “SecOps gap” leaving organizations u...
Cell networks have the advantage of long-range communications, reaching an estimated 90% of the world. But cell networks such as 2G, 3G and LTE consume lots of power and were designed for connecting people. They are not optimized for low- or battery-powered devices or for IoT applications with infrequently transmitted data. Cell IoT modules that support narrow-band IoT and 4G cell networks will enable cell connectivity, device management, and app enablement for low-power wide-area network IoT. B...