Friday, December 10, 2010

Move your VMs to Azure (some thoughts)

Microsoft announced some new great features for their Azure services in October.

·         VM Role
·         Windows Azure Connect
·         Admin Mode
·         Remote Desktop

For an IT-pro, this Is great news. Also, the new Management portal is stunning!

What opportunities do we have if we have a virtual environment (Private Cloud) based on Hyper-V?
-          Create VMs (image/.vhd) and upload them to Azure
-          Connect our services in Azure with our On-Premise resources
-          RDP to the VM in Azure, and do maintenance, configuration etc

Fantastic, but can we consider this as an IaaS solution from Microsoft, compared to Amazon`s EC ?
It really depends.
To move your VM from Hyper-V to Azure, You also need to think about sizing the VM (The VHD size must fit the quota allocated for the chosen VM size for you role. In this case, setting the size to 30GB allows you to deploy the VM in a “small” role), and not create any other partitions than C:
You need to download the new SDK 1.3. This will give you the opportunity to make the VM Azure-aware with the new integration services (wavmroleic.iso).
Once this is done, sysprep the VM and upload it to Azure from the Windows Azure SDK Command Prompt.
Example: csupload Add-VMImage -Connection "SubscriptionId=<YOUR-SUBSCRIPTION-ID>; CertificateThumbprint=<YOUR-CERTIFICATE-THUMBPRINT>; ServiceManagementEndpoint=" -Description "Base image Windows Server 2008 R2" -LiteralPath "<PATH-TO-VHD-FILE>" -Name baseimage.vhd
Then the .vhd will be mounted for further verification.
Once this is done, create a service model and configure it to use the base image in Visual Studio 2010. You can also set up the RDP connection here.

Ok. Now we have our VM placed in Windows Azure. This role is still in its beta period, and I should not say for sure that this is it. But we might be tempted to think of some scenarios here.

Some questions that people has asked me:

-          Can we extend our On-Premise resources to Windows Azure?
Yes. You can connect your on-premise resources with your services in the cloud. You can even domain-join your services in Azure to your domain On-Premise  (simplifies Single Sign On)

-          Are we able to host our Remote Desktop Servers here?
-          Can I place my backup server here, and sync between my On-Premise servers?
-          If we`re running a private cloud with SCVMM, Failover Cluster and Hyper-V, could we failover to the VM in Azure ?

The answer to all the last questions: You have to think of Azure as a solution, not a machine. We can separate Azure in the following roles; VM Role, Worker Role, and Web Role.
The idea about the VM Role is to let you move your existing applications to Azure more easily than to write new code to support it all. We get a hint about this, since its focus is primary on the full installation of IIS 7.5. The VM Role in itself is just a bonus for us IT-pro`s, who can contribute with our skills when it comes to adjust the VM for installation, monitoring, and administration. The main focus should still be the Application, - and not the VM.
So this is not Microsoft`s announcement of a IaaS solution, but something in between.
You won’t be able to failover your VM to Azure. Remember that you need to manage the Hypervisor, so you can’t failover a VM to another VM, since you can`t run Hyper-V inside the VM. Also, that would require storage and the underlying storage for the VM in Azure is out of your control.
The Remote Desktop support in Azure makes it easier to connect to your services . You are now able to troubleshooting the VM Role  and the other roles. Not to host Remote Desktop services there, and run LOB application installed in the VM Role.

Personally, I think the new features in Azure are very interesting. In fact, it`s hard to sleep when my head is in the cloud. It forces me to be creative in a new way, and to think solutions more than ever. We have now the chance to combine the best of both world, - our truly believed On-Premise resources, with the services in the cloud on steroids (Azure).


Tera said...

Thanks. Your post makes it more easier for me now, to explain those new features.


Ronny Hansen said...

Well, actually you shouldn't look at the VM role as an IaaS - more like a PaaS.

Read here for more details:

// Ronny

Kristian Nese said...

Ronny: I agree. But people(technicians) seems to mix up the understanding about the PaaS/IaaS when it comes to Azure and the new features. So I tried to answer some of those questions I`ve received, in this post.