About Azure Virtual Machines

What is Azure Virtual Machine

Virtual machines are one of the compute options available in Microsoft Azure. Azure virtual machines are same as your normal virtual machines but they are located in Azure and hosted by Microsoft. It uses Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) features from the Azure. The flexibility of virtual machines makes them a ideal scenario for many of the workloads. Both linux and windows-based operating system virtual machines allow for a diverse set of workloads. You have total control over the configuration of the VM. You are responsible for all server software installation, configuration, and maintenance, as well as operating system patches.

What workloads are supported

It is to be noted that not all workloads are supported on Azure VMs. The best way to keep track of it, is using Microsoft support article: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2721672.

This article details which Microsoft workloads are supported within Azure. Also, the article is kept up-to-date as new workloads are brought online, or the support policy changes when new capabilities within Azure enhance what is supported.

How to create Azure Virtual Machine

You can create virtual machines using following methods:

  1. Azure Management Portal
  2. Azure Resource Manager Portal
  3. Azure PowerShell cmdlets
  4. Azure cross-platform command line tools
  5. Azure Management Rest API

Which method I should use?

All of the above methods have their pros and cons and they also vary in the complexity. We’ll discuss in detail, all of those during next few posts.

Using the Azure Management Portal / Resource Manager Portal

Both of these portals allows you to use a wide variety of virtual machines images, and pre-defined templates for entire solutions such as SharePoint farm. You can also upload your custom images. For individual machines, you can specify some but not all of the configuration options at run time. Some options, such as configuring the load balancer, and specifying data disk configuration, are not available at creation time. However these can later be set. Also you need to deploy virtual machines one at a time.

Using the cross-platform command-line tools

The Azure cross-platform command line tools (or Azure-xplat-cli tools) allow you to provision and manage virtual machines and many other Azure resources. The commands in these tools can be scripted to provide automated deployments. The cross-platform command-line tools are built using Node.js, and as the name implies will work across multiple platforms. The tools are supported on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Using the Azure PowerShell cmdlets

Using the Azure PowerShell cmdlets, you can define the entire configuration of a virtual machine, including advanced configuration options as well. The Azure PowerShell cmdlets works only on Windows clients. It also requires one to have previous working knowledge of PowerShell basics and build on the same.

Using the Azure Management REST API

It is essentially for the developers. It can be used to create automation scenarios and deploy accordingly.

How to keep track of licensing

Azure Virtual Machines is priced on a per-hour basis, but is billed on a per-minute basis. For example, you are only changed for 23 minutes of usage if the VM is deployed for 23 minutes. The cost for a VM includes the charge for the Windows Server operating system. (Linux-based instances are slightly cheaper as there is no operating system license charge.)

If you any install any other software inside Azure Virtual Machine, you are responsible for its license validation, irrespective of whether its a Microsoft product or not. Certain Azure virtual machine offerings may also include additional Microsoft software on a per-hour or evaluation basis.

Note: Do note that Microsoft does not support an upgrade of the operating system of a Microsoft Azure virtual machine. I’ve come across few blogs and books which maintains that Microsoft does operating system version upgrades, which is not true in my experience. You also have the flexibility to choose whether to install windows updates or not. These updates are same as what offered to rest of the world and you get same update options.

Have a nice day ahead and stay tuned!


One thought on “About Azure Virtual Machines

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