Azure

Azure is an open and flexible cloud platform that serves as the development, data storing, service hosting and service management environment. Windows Azure provides developers with on-demand compute and storage to host, scale, and manage web applications on the internet through Microsoft datacenters.

Azure provides you with Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). With IaaS you manage everything that runs within the OS, and your cloud provider handles the rest: the physical management of the servers, taking care of storage and the network, virtualization, backup power, etc. The only thing you need to worry about is installing the operating system and configuring the server to suit your needs.

It is best suited for deploying Windows applications and software applications built in the .Net platform. Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter image is provided as a standard image and the licence is included for free when you create a new Windows virtual machine. You will need to purchase a non-transferable licence if you wish to you any other Windows versions. It is also recommended if you use Microsoft SQL Server as your database since this is available as pre-installed platform option.

Getting started

Select the Windows virtual machine image

  1. Sign in to the Azure portal.
  2. On the Hub menu, click New > Compute > Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter.Screenshot that shows the Azure VM images available in the preview portal
    TIP:

    To find additional images, click Marketplace and then search or filter for available items.

  3. On the Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter page, under Select a deployment model, select Resource Manager. Click Create.Screenshot that shows the deployment model to select for an Azure VM

Create the Windows virtual machine

After you select the image, you can use Azure’s default settings for most of the configuration and quickly create the virtual machine.

  1. On the Create virtual machine blade, click Basics.
  2. Enter a Name you want for the virtual machine. The name cannot contain special characters.
  3. Enter administrative User name, and a strong Password. The password must be at 8-123 characters long and have at least 3 of the following: 1 lower case character, 1 upper case character, 1 number, and 1 special character. You’ll need the user name and password to log on to the virtual machine.
  4. If you have more than one subscription, specify the one for the new virtual machine, as well as a new or existing Resource group and an Azure datacenter Location. It is recommended to select the datacenter location close you where the majority of core end users will be, although Azure will allow you to replicate VM instances across all regions to reduce latency and provide sufficient redundancies giving you high availability of your web applications.Screenshot that shows the basic settings to configure for an Azure VM
  5. Click Size and select an appropriate virtual machine size for your needs. Each size specifies the number of compute cores, memory, and other features, such as support for Premium Storage, which will affect the price. Azure recommends certain sizes automatically depending on the image you choose.Screenshot that shows the Azure VM sizes that you can select
    NOTE:

    Premium storage is available for DS-series virtual machines in certain regions. Premium storage is the best storage option for data intensive workloads such as a database. For details, see Premium Storage: High-Performance Storage for Azure Virtual Machine Workloads.

  6. Click Settings to see storage and networking settings for the new virtual machine. For a first virtual machine you can generally accept the default settings. If you selected a virtual machine size that supports it, you can try out Premium Storage by selecting Premium (SSD)under Disk type.Screenshot that shows the optional features you can configure for an Azure VM
  7. Click Summary to review your configuration choices. When you’re done reviewing or updating the settings, click Create.Screenshot that shows the summary of the configuration choices made for the Azure VM
  8. While Azure creates the virtual machine, you can track the progress under Virtual Machinesin the hub menu.

Log on to the Windows virtual machine

After you create the virtual machine, you’ll want to log on to it so you can manage its settings and the applications that you’ll run on it.

NOTE:

For requirements and troubleshooting tips, see Connect to an Azure virtual machine with RDP or SSH.

  1. If you haven’t already done so, sign in to the Azure portal.
  2. Click your virtual machine on the dashboard or click on Virtual Machines and select it from the list.
  3. On the virtual machine blade, click Connect.Screenshot that shows where you find the Connect button on the Azure VM blade
  4. Click Open to use the Remote Desktop Protocol file that’s automatically created for the Windows Server virtual machine.
  5. Click Connect.
  6. Type the user name and password you set when you created the virtual machine, and then click OK.
  7. Click Yes to verify the identity of the virtual machine.

You can now work with the virtual machine just as you would with any other server.

 

Configuration Options

To connect to the Windows Server click on the Connect button. This will download the Windows RDP session where you will be asked for the administrator username and password to your Windows instance. You can also restart the Windows Server or stop the instance running for when you don’t require it. This will keep the cloud service charges low.

Azure VM Setup

There are several configuration option for example assigning a permanent IP address and add a sub-domain name to access the web servers running on the VM instance. To set this click on Virtual Machine > Properties > Public IP Address > Configuration > DNS Label Name – Enter your subdomain. You final url to the VM webserver will be subdomain.westeurope.cloudapp.azure.com

Azure VM Setup

 

If you are running processor and RAM intensive applications you can scale the instance size according to your needs.

For light Java web applications we recommend 1 Core and 2 GB RAM as a minimum.

For high load data processing with big data platform 2 Core and 4GB RAM is a minimum.

To adjust the size click on Virtual Machine > Size> Select the VM size. Listed below are the effective monthly cost as of Jan 2016 to keep the instances running for a whole month.

Azure VM Setup 2

Network Security Group (NSG)

Next step is necessary if you are setting up a webserver running in the Windows VM instance.

Network security group (NSG) contains a list of Access control List (ACL) rules that allow\deny network traffic to your VM instances in a Virtual Network. NSGs can be associated with either subnets or individual VM instances within that subnet. When a NSG is associated with a subnet, the ACL rules apply to all the VM instances in that subnet. In addition, traffic to an individual VM can be restricted further by associating a NSG directly to that VM.

You can associate different NSGs to a VM (or NIC, depending on the deployment model) and the subnet that a NIC or VM is bound to. When that happens, all network access rules are applied to the traffic in the following order:

  • Inbound traffic
    1. NSG applied to subnet.
    2. NSG applied to NIC (Resource Manager) or VM (classic).
  • Outbound traffic
    1. NSG applied to NIC (Resource Manager) or VM (classic).
    2. NSG applied to subnet.

NSG ACLs

NOTE:

Although you can only associate a single NSG to a subnet, VM, or NIC; you can associate the same NSG to as many resources as you want.

To setup Inbound security rules click on Network Security Group for your VM > Inbound Security rules > Add > Enter name i.e Allow-Http, Source, Protocol and Allow, Destination port that all traffic should be forwarded to.

TCP Port 3389 is the default used for Windows RDP sessions.

TCP Port 80 is the default public Webserver http port.

TCP Port 443 is the default secure SSL Webserver https port.

TCP Port 8080 / 8443 is the default Apache Tomcat Server http / https ports.

Azure VM Setup 3

References