Creating and Managing a Virtual Machine in Microsoft Azure

Server Software Support for Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines

Microsoft Azure allows you to create virtual machines that run Windows Server and Client software, and Linux server software as guest operating systems. Windows Server 2008 R2 and later versions are supported in Azure virtual machines. Table 1 provides a list of endorsed Linux distributions that are available to install from within Microsoft Azure, and to which the Azure platform SLA applies if installed in a supported configuration.

Distribution

Version

Drivers

Kernel Compatibility Patch

Agent

Canonical Ubuntu

Ubuntu   12.04.1+, 13.10, & 14.04

In Kernel

Required for 12.04 or 12.04.01 only

walinuxagent  

CentOS by OpenLogic

CentOS   6.3+

CentOS 6.3: LIS drivers

CentOS 6.4+ drivers: in Kernel

Required for 6.3 only

walinuxagent

Oracle Linux

6.4+

In Kernel

Not Applicable

WALinuxAgent

SUSE Linux Enterprise

SLES 11 SP3+

In Kernel

Not Applicable

WALinuxAgent

openSUSE

openSUSE   13.1+

In Kernel

Not Applicable

WALinuxAgent

Table 1: Microsoft Azure Endorsed Linux Distributions

If you have an MSDN subscription, you also have access to certain Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 client images in Microsoft Azure. Virtual machines created in Microsoft Azure essentially support the same types of workloads as you might deploy in a private cloud, but you should always verify officially supported configurations to ensure coverage under the Azure platform SLA.

Accessing the Microsoft Azure Management Portal

Microsoft Azure provides a web-based user interface that you can use to create and manage your resources in the Microsoft public cloud. You can access the Microsoft Azure Portal by directing your browser to http://azure.microsoft.com/. As shown in Figure 1, you are directed to an initial screen that allows you to select a variety of actions that range from exploring the features of the Microsoft Azure services, reviewing subscriptions, accessing documentation and add-ons, getting support, managing your account, and accessing the Portal.

Image
Figure 1: Microsoft Azure Initial Screen

Selecting the portal option brings you to the Microsoft Azure login screen. After the login is successful, you are directed to the Portal screen shown in Figure 2. From this screen, you can view the status of all current resources, as well as create new resources.

Image
Figure 2: Microsoft Azure Portal

Creating a New Virtual Machine using the Quick Create Method

The Microsoft Azure Portal provides two basic methods to create a new virtual machine: Quick Create and From Gallery. With the Quick Create method, you use a single dialog box to provide basic configuration details such as the image type, DNS name, and initial user name and password. Other configuration settings such as the virtual network definition and connection are performed later.

  1. From the command bar at the bottom of the Portal screen, select the New option as shown in Figure 3.

Image
Figure 3: Selecting the New Option

  1. Under the Compute option, select Virtual Machine, and then select the Quick Create option as shown in Figure 4.

Image
Figure 4: Selecting the Quick Create Method

  1. Enter the following virtual machine configuration details in the dialog box as shown in Figure 5.
    • DNS Name – This is the name that is used for the virtual machine and the cloud service that contains the virtual machine.
    • Image – This is the platform image that is used for the virtual machine.
    • Size – This defines the virtual machine processor core and memory resource requirements. There are several options that range from a shared core with 768 MB of memory to 16 cores with 112 GB of memory.
    • User Name – This is the name for the account that you use to manage the virtual machine.
    • New Password – This is the password for the account that you use to manage the virtual machine.
    • Confirm – This is to verify the password for the account.
    • Region/Affinity Group – This is the region where you want the virtual machine resources to be physically deployed. Currently available regions include East US, South Central US, West US, North Europe, West Europe, East Asia, Southeast Asia, and Japan West.

Image
Figure 5: Quick Configuration of the New Virtual Machine

  1. After you enter the virtual machine configuration details, click on Create a Virtual Machine or the check mark. A storage account is automatically created to contain the virtual machine VHD file.
  2. You can view the new virtual machine on the Virtual Machines page as shown in Figure 6.

Image
Figure 6: Viewing the New Virtual Machine

Creating a New Virtual Machine using the From Gallery Method

Using the From Gallery method to create a new virtual machine, you have more configuration choices, including more selections of images for the virtual machine, definition and connection to a virtual network, installation of the VM Agent and extensions, availability settings, and adding the VM to an existing cloud service.

  1. From the command bar at the bottom of the Management Portal screen, select the New option.
  2. Under the Compute option, select Virtual Machine, and then select the From Gallery option as shown in Figure 7.

Image
Figure 7: Selecting the From Gallery Method

  1. On the Choose an Image page, you can select an image for the new virtual machine from the lists as shown in Figure 8. Then you click the arrow at the bottom of the page to continue the virtual machine configuration. You can select to install only a guest operating system, or a guest operating system and a predefined workload such as Sharepoint, SQL Server, Biztalk Server, and Visual Studio. These are not the only images available as the options that are presented depend on the type of Azure subscription that you purchase.

Image
Figure 8: Selecting the New Virtual Machine Image

  1. On the first Virtual Machine Configuration page, enter the following virtual machine attributes as shown in Figure 9, and then select the arrow to continue the virtual machine configuration.
    • Version Release Date – This is the version of the image that you want to use for the new virtual machine. If multiple versions of the image are available, select the desired option.
    • Virtual Machine Name – This is the name that is used for the virtual machine.
    • Size – This defines the virtual machine processor core and memory resource requirements.
    • New User Name – This is the administrative account that you use to manage the virtual machine.
    • Tier – This defines the  virtual machine processor core and memory resource selections that are  listed as Size options. The Basic tier has smaller core and processor combinations to select from than the Standard tier.
    • New Password – This is the password for the account that you use to manage the virtual machine.
    • Confirm – This is to verify the password for the account.

Image
Figure 9: Defining the New Virtual Machine Configuration

  1. On the second Virtual Machine Configuration page, set the following virtual machine attributes as shown in Figure 10, and then select the arrow to continue the virtual machine configuration.
    • Cloud Service – This is a cloud service container for virtual machines that you create. You can create a new cloud service container for a single virtual machine or place multiple virtual machines in the same cloud service for load balancing.
    • Cloud Service DNS Name – This is the global DNS name that is used to contact the virtual machine.
    • Region/Affinity Group/Virtual Network – This is the Region where you want the virtual machine resources to be physically deployed. The Affinity Group attribute allows Azure to keep all services in a group physically close. The Virtual Network attribute allows you to define the network to connect to the virtual machine.
    • Storage Account – This defines the storage account that contains the virtual machine virtual hard disks (VHDs).
    • Availability Set – This is used to define a group of virtual machines that are deployed across fault and update domains.
    • Endpoints – These are the communication ports through which the virtual machine can be contacted.

Image
Figure 10: Continuing the New Virtual Machine Configuration

  1. On the third Virtual Machine Configuration page, select the following virtual machine configuration options as shown in Figure 11, and then select the check mark to create the virtual machine.
    • VM Agent – The VM Agent installs extensions that enhance the interaction with the virtual machine. This option cannot be disabled when installing a Linux image. For Windows data disks and Linux images and disks, a version of the VM agent that supports extensions must already be installed in the operating system.
    • Configuration Extensions – These are extensions that enhance the management of the virtual machine, including the execution of custom scripts.
    • Security Extensions – These are extensions that enhance the security of the virtual machine, such as antivirus support.

Image
Figure 11: Completing the New Virtual Machine Configuration

  1. You can view the new cloud service, storage, and virtual machine on the All Items page as shown in Figure 12.

Image
Figure 12:
Viewing the New Cloud Service, Storage, and Virtual Machine

  1. You can view the virtual machine disks in the Portal by selecting Disks in the Virtual Machines screen as shown in Figure 13.

Image
Figure 13:
Viewing the Virtual Machine Disks

  1. You can view general virtual machine details on the Dashboard screen as shown in Figure 14. From this screen, you can also connect to, restart, shutdown, attach empty disks, capture, and delete the virtual machine.

Image
Figure 14: Virtual Machine Dashboard Screen

  1. You can monitor virtual machine performance on the virtual machine Monitor screen as shown in Figure 15.

Image
Figure 15: Virtual Machine Monitor Screen

  1. You can reconfigure virtual machine endpoints on the virtual machine Endpoints Screen as shown in Figure 16.

Image
Figure 16: Virtual Machine Endpoints Screen

  1. You can also reconfigure the virtual machine tier, size, and availability sets by selecting the Configure Screen as shown in Figure 17.

Image
Figure 17: Virtual Machine Configure Screen

All of these virtual machine screens are accessed by clicking the virtual machine name from the Virtual Machine screen. 

Conclusion

The Microsoft Azure Portal provides multiple, simple methods to create and manage virtual machines in the Microsoft public cloud. Using the Quick Create method, you can quickly create new virtual machines and go back later to set more configuration options. Using the From Gallery method, you can fully customize the virtual machine configuration before it is deployed into the physical region as a standalone or load balanced service. Microsoft Azure virtual machines scale in processor, memory, and storage, allowing you to create virtual machines with a large number of cores and memory, and data disks up to 1 TB in size. As an added benefit, you can easily move a virtual machine created in Microsoft Azure to Hyper-V and back since both use the same virtualized hardware and VHD format. This allows you to quickly reconfigure services on premise or redeploy to the public cloud to adjust to changing business conditions.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Scroll to Top