|By Kevin Remde||
|January 5, 2013 09:08 AM EST||
“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
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”.
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:
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.
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.
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Ashar Baig, Research ...
Oct. 25, 2014 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,749
In her General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing, at Verizon Enterprise, will focus on finding the right mix of renting vs. buying Oracle capacity to scale to meet business demands, and offer validated Oracle database TCO models for Oracle development and testing environments. Anne Plese is a marketing and technology enthusiast/realist with over 19+ years in high tech. At Verizon Enterprise, she focuses on driving growth for the Verizon Cloud pla...
Oct. 25, 2014 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,602
StackIQ offers a comprehensive software suite that automates the deployment, provisioning, and management of Big Infrastructure. With StackIQ’s software, you can spin up fully configured big data clusters, quickly and consistently — from bare-metal up to the applications layer — and manage them efficiently. Our software’s modular architecture allows customers to integrate nearly any application with the StackIQ software stack.
Oct. 25, 2014 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,689
As Platform as a Service (PaaS) matures as a category, developers should have the ability to use the programming language of their choice to build applications and have access to a wide array of services. Bluemix is IBM's open cloud development platform that enables users to easily build cloud-based, creative mobile and web applications without having to spend large amounts of time and resources on configuring infrastructure and multiple software licenses. In this track, you will learn about the...
Oct. 25, 2014 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,669
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 Internet of @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, will discuss 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! Speaker Bio: ...
Oct. 24, 2014 09:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,261
Compute virtualization has been transformational, yet security policy implementation and enforcement has lagged behind in agility and automation. There are a number of key considerations when implementing policy in private and hybrid clouds. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Holland Barry, VP of Technology at Catbird, will discuss the impact of this new paradigm and what organizations can do today to safely move to software-defined network and compute architectures, including: How normal ope...
Oct. 24, 2014 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,482
Samsung VP Jacopo Lenzi, who headed the company's recent SmartThings acquisition under the auspices of Samsung's Open Innovaction Center (OIC), answered a few questions we had about the deal. This interview was in conjunction with our interview with SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson. IoT Journal: SmartThings was developed in an open, standards-agnostic platform, and will now be part of Samsung's Open Innovation Center. Can you elaborate on your commitment to keep the platform open? Jacopo Lenzi: S...
Oct. 23, 2014 11:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,651
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 hap...
Oct. 23, 2014 07:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,649
SYS-CON Events announced today that SOA Software, an API management leader, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SOA Software is a leading provider of API Management and SOA Governance products that equip business to deliver APIs and SOA together to drive their company to meet its business strategy quickly and effectively. SOA Software’s technology helps businesses to accel...
Oct. 23, 2014 06:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,684
SYS-CON Events announced today that Utimaco will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Utimaco is a leading manufacturer of hardware based security solutions that provide the root of trust to keep cryptographic keys safe, secure critical digital infrastructures and protect high value data assets. Only Utimaco delivers a general-purpose hardware security module (HSM) as a customiz...
Oct. 23, 2014 05:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,598
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
Oct. 22, 2014 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,525
SYS-CON Events announced today that ElasticBox is holding a Hackathon at DevOps Summit, November 6 from 12 pm -4 pm at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. You can enter as an individual or team of up to 10 developers. A New Star Is Born Every Month! All completed ElasticBoxes will then be sent to a judging panel - 12 winners will be featured on the ElasticBox website in 2015. All entrants will receive five full enterprise licenses for one year + ElasticBox headphones + Elasti...
Oct. 22, 2014 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,543
Once the decision has been made to move part or all of a workload to the cloud, a methodology for selecting that workload needs to be established. How do you move to the cloud? What does the discovery, assessment and planning look like? What workloads make sense? Which cloud model makes sense for each workload? What are the considerations for how to select the right cloud model? And how does that fit in with the overall IT tranformation? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, John Hatem, head of V...
Oct. 22, 2014 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,571
Cloud services are the newest tool in the arsenal of IT products in the market today. These cloud services integrate process and tools. In order to use these products effectively, organizations must have a good understanding of themselves and their business requirements. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Brian Lewis, Principal Architect at Verizon Cloud, will outline key areas of organizational focus, and how to formalize an actionable plan when migrating applications and internal services to...
Oct. 22, 2014 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,606
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, will discuss 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 ...
Oct. 22, 2014 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,689
Ixia develops amazing products so its customers can connect the world. Ixia helps its customers provide an always-on user experience through fast, secure delivery of dynamic connected technologies and services. Through actionable insights that accelerate and secure application and service delivery, Ixia's customers benefit from faster time to market, optimized application performance and higher-quality deployments.
Oct. 21, 2014 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,527
SYS-CON Events announced today that Calm.io has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of DevOps Summit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Calm.io is a cloud orchestration platform for AWS, vCenter, OpenStack, or bare metal, that runs your CL tools puppet, Chef, shell, git, Jenkins, nagios, and will soon support New Relic and Docker. It can run hosted, or on premise and provides VM automation / expiry, self-service portals,...
Oct. 21, 2014 08:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,482
SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the recurring revenue expert, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Aria Systems helps leading businesses connect their customers with the products and services they love. Industry leaders like Pitney Bowes, Experian, AAA NCNU, VMware, HootSuite and many others choose Aria to power their recurring revenue bu...
Oct. 21, 2014 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,586
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce t...
Oct. 21, 2014 05:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,661
Blue Box has closed a $10 million Series B financing. The round was led by a strategic investor and included participation from prior investors including Voyager Capital and Founders Collective, as well as the Blue Box executive team. This round follows a $4.3 million Series A closed in December of 2012 and led by Voyager Capital. In May of this year, the company announced general availability of its private cloud as a service offering, Blue Box Cloud. Since that release, the company has dem...
Oct. 21, 2014 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,635