Welcome!

Silverlight Authors: Steven Mandel, Gerardo A Dada, Srinivasan Sundara Rajan, Yeshim Deniz, Greg O'Connor

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.

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ericsson has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to enable transformation through mobility. Some 40 percent of global mobile traffic runs through networks we have supplied. More than 1 billion subscribers around the world re...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus inter...
The increasing popularity of the Internet of Things necessitates that our physical and cognitive relationship with wearable technology will change rapidly in the near future. This advent means logging has become a thing of the past. Before, it was on us to track our own data, but now that data is automatically available. What does this mean for mHealth and the "connected" body? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Lisa Calkins, CEO and co-founder of Amadeus Consulting, will discuss the impact of wea...
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, will provide tips on how to be successful in large scale machine lear...
There is an ever-growing explosion of new devices that are connected to the Internet using “cloud” solutions. This rapid growth is creating a massive new demand for efficient access to data. And it’s not just about connecting to that data anymore. This new demand is bringing new issues and challenges and it is important for companies to scale for the coming growth. And with that scaling comes the need for greater security, gathering and data analysis, storage, connectivity and, of course, the...
The IoTs will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and share the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the development proc...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Klein, CEO and Co-founder of Rachio, will discuss next generation communities that are using IoT to create more sustainable, intelligent communities. One example is Sterling Ranch, a 10,000 home development that – with the help of Siemens – will integrate IoT technology into the community to provide residents with energy and water savings as well as intelligent security. Everything from stop lights to sprinkler systems to building infrastructures will run ef...
Increasing IoT connectivity is forcing enterprises to find elegant solutions to organize and visualize all incoming data from these connected devices with re-configurable dashboard widgets to effectively allow rapid decision-making for everything from immediate actions in tactical situations to strategic analysis and reporting. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Shikhir Singh, Senior Developer Relations Manager at Sencha, will discuss how to create HTML5 dashboards that interact with IoT devic...
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to massively disrupt IoT. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond AI, will discuss what the five main drivers are in Artificial Intelligence that could shape the future of the Internet of Things. AJ Abdallat is CEO of Beyond AI. He has over 20 years of management experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, sensors, instruments, devices and software for telecommunications, life sciences, environmental monitoring, process...
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including cloud...
Digital payments using wearable devices such as smart watches, fitness trackers, and payment wristbands are an increasing area of focus for industry participants, and consumer acceptance from early trials and deployments has encouraged some of the biggest names in technology and banking to continue their push to drive growth in this nascent market. Wearable payment systems may utilize near field communication (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), or quick response (QR) codes and barcodes...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DatacenterDynamics has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. DatacenterDynamics is a brand of DCD Group, a global B2B media and publishing company that develops products to help senior professionals in the world's most ICT dependent organizations make risk-based infrastructure and capacity decisions.
The IoT has the potential to create a renaissance of manufacturing in the US and elsewhere. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Florent Solt, CTO and chief architect of Netvibes, will discuss how the expected exponential increase in the amount of data that will be processed, transported, stored, and accessed means there will be a huge demand for smart technologies to deliver it. Florent Solt is the CTO and chief architect of Netvibes. Prior to joining Netvibes in 2007, he co-founded Rift Technol...
We’ve worked with dozens of early adopters across numerous industries and will debunk common misperceptions, which starts with understanding that many of the connected products we’ll use over the next 5 years are already products, they’re just not yet connected. With an IoT product, time-in-market provides much more essential feedback than ever before. Innovation comes from what you do with the data that the connected product provides in order to enhance the customer experience and optimize busi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Stratoscale, the software company developing the next generation data center operating system, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Stratoscale is revolutionizing the data center with a zero-to-cloud-in-minutes solution. With Stratoscale’s hardware-agnostic, Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) solution to store everything, run anything and scale everywhere...
Angular 2 is a complete re-write of the popular framework AngularJS. Programming in Angular 2 is greatly simplified – now it's a component-based well-performing framework. This immersive one-day workshop at 18th Cloud Expo, led by Yakov Fain, a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay, will provide you with everything you wanted to know about Angular 2.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...