Welcome!

Cloud Expo Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Carmen Gonzalez, Liz McMillan, Victoria Livschitz

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.

@CloudExpo Stories
"We help companies that are using a lot of Software as a Service. We help companies manage and gain visibility into what people are using inside the company and decide to secure them or use standards to lock down or to embrace the adoption of SaaS inside the company," explained Scott Kriz, Co-founder and CEO of Bitium, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
15th Cloud Expo, which took place Nov. 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, expanded the conference content of @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit to include two developer events. IBM held a Bluemix Developer Playground on November 5 and ElasticBox held a Hackathon on November 6. Both events took place on the expo floor. The Bluemix Developer Playground, for developers of all levels, highlighted the ease of use of Bluemix, its services and functionalit...
Some developers believe that monitoring is a function of the operations team. Some operations teams firmly believe that monitoring the systems they maintain is sufficient to run the business successfully. Most of them are wrong. The complexity of today's applications have gone far and beyond the capabilities of "traditional" system-level monitoring tools and approaches and requires much broader knowledge of business and applications as a whole. The goal of DevOps is to connect all aspects of app...
The 4th International DevOps Summit, co-located with16th International Cloud Expo – being held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY – announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's large...
SAP is delivering break-through innovation combined with fantastic user experience powered by the market-leading in-memory technology, SAP HANA. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP, discussed how SAP and partners provide cloud and hybrid cloud solutions as well as real-time Big Data offerings that help companies of all sizes and industries run better. SAP launched an application challenge to award the most innovative SAP HANA and SAP HANA...
When an enterprise builds a hybrid IaaS cloud connecting its data center to one or more public clouds, security is often a major topic along with the other challenges involved. Security is closely intertwined with the networking choices made for the hybrid cloud. Traditional networking approaches for building a hybrid cloud try to kludge together the enterprise infrastructure with the public cloud. Consequently this approach requires risky, deep "surgery" including changes to firewalls, subnets...
Want to enable self-service provisioning of application environments in minutes that mirror production? Can you automatically provide rich data with code-level detail back to the developers when issues occur in production? In his session at DevOps Summit, David Tesar, Microsoft Technical Evangelist on Microsoft Azure and DevOps, will discuss how to accomplish this and more utilizing technologies such as Microsoft Azure, Visual Studio online, and Application Insights in this demo-heavy session.
DevOps is all about agility. However, you don't want to be on a high-speed bus to nowhere. The right DevOps approach controls velocity with a tight feedback loop that not only consists of operational data but also incorporates business context. With a business context in the decision making, the right business priorities are incorporated, which results in a higher value creation. In his session at DevOps Summit, Todd Rader, Solutions Architect at AppDynamics, discussed key monitoring techniques...
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water,...
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, a...
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happe...
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series dat...
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and asse...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
SYS-CON Media announced that Centrify, a provider of unified identity management across cloud, mobile and data center environments that delivers single sign-on (SSO) for users and a simplified identity infrastructure for IT, has launched an ad campaign on Cloud Computing Journal. The ads focus on security: how an organization can successfully control privilege for all of the organization’s identities to mitigate identity-related risk without slowing down the business, and how Centrify provides ...
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrateg...
"SAP had made a big transition into the cloud as we believe it has significant value for our customers, drives innovation and is easy to consume. When you look at the SAP portfolio, SAP HANA is the underlying platform and it powers all of our platforms and all of our analytics," explained Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce at SAP, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device exp...
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps,...