Welcome!

@BigDataExpo Authors: AppNeta Blog, XebiaLabs Blog, Ed Featherston, Automic Blog, Liz McMillan

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.


@BigDataExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile 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. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...
@GonzalezCarmen has been ranked the Number One Influencer and @ThingsExpo has been named the Number One Brand in the “M2M 2016: Top 100 Influencers and Brands” by Analytic. Onalytica analyzed tweets over the last 6 months mentioning the keywords M2M OR “Machine to Machine.” They then identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR), an industry leader in automated, scalable and secure networks, 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. Juniper Networks challenges the status quo with products, solutions and services that transform the economics of networking. The company co-innovates with customers and partners to deliver automated, scalable and secure network...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, and 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place in November in Silicon Valley, California.
New competitors, disruptive technologies, and growing expectations are pushing every business to both adopt and deliver new digital services. This ‘Digital Transformation’ demands rapid delivery and continuous iteration of new competitive services via multiple channels, which in turn demands new service delivery techniques – including DevOps. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, panelists will examine how DevOps helps to meet th...
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR), an industry leader in automated, scalable and secure networks, 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. Juniper Networks challenges the status quo with products, solutions and services that transform the economics of networking. The company co-innovates with customers and partners to deliver automated, scalable and secure network...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. 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 June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
Blockchain is a shared, secure record of exchange that establishes trust, accountability and transparency across supply chain networks. Supported by the Linux Foundation's open source, open-standards based Hyperledger Project, Blockchain has the potential to improve regulatory compliance, reduce cost and time for product recall as well as advance trade. Are you curious about Blockchain and how it can provide you with new opportunities for innovation and growth? In her session at 20th Cloud Exp...
The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitachi, the leading provider the Internet of Things and Digital Transformation, 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. Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., offers an integrated portfolio of services and solutions that enable digital transformation through enhanced data management, governance, mobility and analytics. We help globa...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Progress, a global leader in application development, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of 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. Enterprises today are rapidly adopting the cloud, while continuing to retain business-critical/sensitive data inside the firewall. This is creating two separate data silos – one inside the firewall and the other outside the firewall. Cloud ISVs oft...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
Quickly find the root cause of complex database problems slowing down your applications. Up to 88% of all application performance issues are related to the database. DPA’s unique response time analysis shows you exactly what needs fixing - in four clicks or less. Optimize performance anywhere. Database Performance Analyzer monitors on-premises, on VMware®, and in the Cloud, including Amazon® AWS and Azure™ virtual machines.
NHK, Japan Broadcasting, will feature the upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special 'Internet of Things' and smart technology documentary that will be filmed on the expo floor between November 3 to 5, 2015, in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to the BBC in the UK and the largest in Asia with many award-winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology and will be covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Val...
In his keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO of Rancher Labs, discussed the technological advances and new business opportunities created by the rapid adoption of containers. With the success of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and various open source technologies used to build private clouds, cloud computing has become an essential component of IT strategy. However, users continue to face challenges in implementing clouds, as older technologies evolve and newer ones like Docker c...
Most technology leaders, contemporary and from the hardware era, are reshaping their businesses to do software in the hope of capturing value in IoT. Although IoT is relatively new in the market, it has already gone through many promotional terms such as IoE, IoX, SDX, Edge/Fog, Mist Compute, etc. Ultimately, irrespective of the name, it is about deriving value from independent software assets participating in an ecosystem as one comprehensive solution.
The age of Digital Disruption is evolving into the next era – Digital Cohesion, an age in which applications securely self-assemble and deliver predictive services that continuously adapt to user behavior. Information from devices, sensors and applications around us will drive services seamlessly across mobile and fixed devices/infrastructure. This evolution is happening now in software defined services and secure networking. Four key drivers – Performance, Economics, Interoperability and Trust ...