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Step-by-Step: Build Linux VMs in the Cloud with Windows Azure
Windows Azure Virtual Machines provides Linux and Windows VM support

The Windows Azure Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering supports running Windows virtual machines and Linux virtual machines in the Cloud. In this article, I provide step-by-step guidance for running a new Linux virtual machine in the cloud using our Windows Azure platform.

Linux?

That’s right, Linux!

Windows Azure runs Linux VMs as a first-class citizen on our cloud platform, with support in the Preview offering for four common Linux distributions:

  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 11 SP2
  • OpenSUSE 12.1
  • CentOS 6.3
  • Ubuntu 12..04.1 and 12.10

The best news is … you can try this out for FREE by signing up for a FREE Windows Azure 90-day Trial of our Virtual Machine Preview.

NOTE: When activating your FREE Trial for Windows Azure, you will be prompted for credit card information.  This information is used only to validate your identity and your credit card will not be charged, unless you explicitly convert your FREE Trial account to a paid subscription at a later point in time.

What about custom Linux images?

If the standard Linux platform images don’t meet your exact needs, there’s several options for leveraging or customizing other images for Windows Azure VMs …

  • We’ve recently announced our own Open Source VM Depot for Linux images for Windows Azure VMs. 
  • SUSE Studio provides integrated Windows Azure support for deploying customized SLES and OpenSUSE images directly to Windows Azure.  You’ll need to enable support for Windows Azure deployment under your SUSE Studio Account Settings by activating “Experimental Features”  after registering on the SUSE Studio site.
  • We also provide step-by-step guidance for preparing your own Linux images for use with Windows Azure if you need further customization flexibility.

Step-by-Step: Build a Linux Apache Web Server VM in the Windows Azure Cloud
In this scenario, we’ll work through the process of provisioning a new Linux Apache web server running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP2 in a virtual machine on the Windows Azure cloud platform.

  1. To prepare your Windows Azure environment, make sure you’ve first completed all steps in our Getting Started article.
  2. After you’ve provisioned a new Linux virtual machine, we’ll be configuring it via a remote Secure Shell (SSH) console session.  If you don’t already have an SSH client installed on your PC, I highly recommend PuTTY.  Download PuTTY and install it before proceeding.
  3. Open Internet Explorer and browse to https://manage.windowsazure.com/ to enter the Windows Azure portal. Then, log in with your credentials.

  4. In the menu located at the bottom, select New | Compute | Virtual Machine | From Gallery to start creating a new virtual machine.

    creating-a-new-virtual-machine
    Creating a new Virtual Machine

  5. On the VM OS Selection page, click Platform Images on the left menu and select the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP2 OS image from the list. Click the Next button to continue.

  6. On the Virtual Machine Configuration page, specify a unique Virtual Machine Name and Administrative Password to be provisioned for the new VM. 

    image
    Virtual Machine Configuration

    Note: It is suggested to use secure passwords for administrative users and service accounts, as Windows Azure virtual machines could be accessible from the Internet knowing just their public DNS host names.  You can also read this document on the Microsoft Security website that will help you select a secure password: http://www.microsoft.com/security/online-privacy/passwords-create.aspx.

    Record the username and password information that you’ve entered above for use when remotely connecting to this new virtual machine later in this step-by-step guide.

    Click the Next button to continue.

  7. On the Virtual Machine Mode page, specify a unique public DNS host name that you’ll use to initially access this new VM remotely.  For the Storage Account and Region/Affinity Group/Virtual Network fields, select the storage account and affinity group that you previously created in the Getting Started article.

    Click the Next button to continue.

    image
    Virtual Machine Mode

    Record the public DNS hostname for testing this new virtual machine after the configuration steps are complete.

  8. On the Virtual Machine Options page, accept the default values and click the Checkmark button to begin provisioning your new virtual machine.

    image
    Virtual Machine Options

  9. You will be returned to the Virtual Machines page and your new virtual machine will be listed with a status of Starting (Provisioning) while it is being initially provisioned on the Windows Azure cloud platform.

    image
    Provisioning a New Virtual Machine

    As the new virtual machine is being provisioned, you will see the Status column on the Virtual Machines page of the Windows Azure Management Portal cycle through several values including Stopped, Stopped (Provisioning), and Running (Provisioning).  When provisioning for this new Virtual Machine is completed, the Status column will display a value of Running and you may continue with the next step in this guide.

  10. After the new virtual machine has finished provisioning, click on the Name of the new Virtual Machine displayed on the Virtual Machines page of the Windows Azure Management Portal. This will navigate to a Dashboard page for this new virtual machine.

    image
    Virtual Machine Dashboard

  11. On the Virtual Machine Dashboard page, make note of the SSH Details.  You’ll use this information to connect to the new virtual machine remotely via an SSH client to configure the Apache web server daemon.

  12. On the Virtual Machine Dashboard page, click on the Endpoints link located in the top navigation area of this page.  This will navigate to the Endpoints page for this virtual machine, listing all firewall endpoint traffic that is currently permitted inbound to this virtual machine.

    image
    Virtual Machine Endpoints

    Note that SSH traffic has automatically been permitted inbound to this new Linux virtual machine, but no other network traffic is permitted by default.  In the next two steps, we’ll add a new endpoint to permit inbound web http traffic to our virtual machine.

  13. On the Virtual Machine Endpoints page, click the +Add Endpoint button located on the bottom toolbar of this page.  This will launch the Add Endpoint wizard.

    image
    Add Endpoint Wizard

    Click the Next button to continue.

  14. On the Specify the details of the endpoint wizard page, enter a name ( web-http ), a public port ( 80 ) and a private port ( 80 ) in the respective fields. 

    image
    Specify the Details of the Endpoint

    Click the Checkmark button to provision the new endpoint.

  15. On your PC, launch an SSH client, such as PuTTY, and establish a new remote SSH session to your virtual machine using the SSH details recorded in Step 9 above in the Host Name and Port fields of the SSH connection properties.

    image
    Establish a new Remote SSH Session with PuTTY

    Click the Open button to establish a remote SSH session to your virtual machine.

  16. Because this is the first time connecting to this virtual machine, you may be presented with a Security Alert dialog box prompting you to accept the host key for securing this SSH session.  

    image
    PuTTY Security Alert during First-Time SSH Connection

    Click the Yes button to accept this host key into your SSH client cache and continue with establishing the connection.

  17. In the new SSH session window, authenticate with the Username and Password information recorded above in Step 4 above.

    image
    SSH Session Window

  18. In the SSH session window, enter the following command to elevate your session for performing root-level administrative commands:

    sudo su -

    When prompted, confirm your identity by re-entering the same Password used to authenticate in Step 17 above.

  19. In the SSH session window, install the packages needed for running the YaST2 setup and configuration tool by entering each of the following commands, pressing ENTER after each line:

    zypper install yast2
    zypper install yast2-ncurses
    zypper install yast2-ncurses-pkg
    zypper install yast2-qt
    zypper install yast2-packager
    zypper install yast2-runlevel
    zypper install yast2-network
    zypper install yast2-http-server

  20. In the SSH session window, launch the YaST2 setup and configuration tool by entering the following command:

    yast2

    This will launch the YaST2 Control Center menu-based setup and configuration tool.

    image
    YaST2 Control Center

  21. In the YaST2 Control Center, press ENTER on the Software menu choice and then select Software Management by pressing ENTER again. This will launch the YaST2 Software Management tool shown below.

    image
    YaST2 Software Management

  22. In the YaST2 Software Management tool, press ALT+F to change the Filter type, select Patterns using your arrow keys and press ENTER.

    image
    Selecting a Pattern Filter

  23. In the YaST2 Software Management tool, press TAB to switch your cursor focus to the Patterns List and scroll down using your arrow keys until Web and LAMP Server is highlighted.

    image
    Selecting the Web and Lamp Server Pattern Filter

  24. In the YaST2 Software Management tool, press ALT+T to open the Actions menu, then press ALT+A to select All Listed Packages, then press ALT+I to select the option to Install All.  After this is completed, a + ( plus sign ) should appear next to each of the 9 selected packages.

    image
    Selecting to Install All Packages in the Web and Lamp Server Pattern Filter

  25. In the YaST2 Software Management tool, press ALT+A to start the installation. Press ENTER when prompted for confirmation. 

    image
    Performing the Web and Lamp Server Package Installation

    Once the installation is complete, the YaST2 Control Center main menu will appear again.

  26. In the YaST2 Control Center main menu, use arrow keys to select Network Services –> HTTP Server to configure the newly installed Web server.

    image
    Selecting the HTTP Server Wizard Configuration Tool

    Press ENTER on the HTTP Server menu selection.

  27. In the HTTP Server Wizard, press F10 on each screen of the wizard to accept default configuration values and finish the wizard. 

    image
    HTTP Server Configuration Wizard

    Once the configuration process is complete, the YaST2 Control Center main menu will appear again.

  28. In the YaST2 Control Center main menu, use arrow keys to select System –> System Services (Runlevel) to start the Web server.

    image
    Selecting System Services (Runlevel) to Start Web Server

    Press ENTER on the System Services (Runlevel) menu selection.

  29. In the YaST2 System Services (Runlevel) tool, use arrow keys to select apache2 in the Service list.  Press ALT+E to enable and start the Apache HTTP daemon.

    image
    Enabling the Apache Web Daemon

  30. In the YaST2 System Services (Runlevel) tool, after the Apache Web Daemon is started, press ENTER and then ALT+O to accept the new Runlevel changes.

    image
    Accepting the Runlevel Changes

    Press ENTER to confirm that changes will be saved.

We’re done! Let’s test it!

After the above steps are completed, the Apache Web Daemon will be running on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP2 in a virtual machine on the Windows Azure cloud platform.

  • Test the new virtual machine by opening a new browser window and navigating to:

    http://<public_DNS_hostname>.cloudapp.net

    Use the public DNS hostname value recorded in Step 7 above.

    image
    Testing the Linux HTTP Web Server VM

What’s Next? Keep Building!

Learn more about Windows Azure Virtual Machines with this FREE online training:

In addition to running Linux virtual machines on the Windows Azure cloud platform, did you know that Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V and our FREE Hyper-V Server 2012 products support running Linux virtual machines in your on-premise data center?

  • Do It: Learn more about these products at:
    • Build your Windows Server 2012 Lab
    • Join our FREE Early Experts Virtualizer Knowledge Quest
    • Build a FREE Hyper-V Server 2012 cluster
    • Download Linux Integration Services for Hyper-V

Which Linux workloads are you planning to virtualize?

Feel free to leave your comments below with your thoughts, questions and ideas for virtualizing Linux workloads on the Windows Azure cloud platform, Windows Server 2012 and our FREE Hyper-V Server 2012.

Keith

Build Your Lab! Build Your Lab! Download Windows Server 2012
Build Your Lab in the Cloud! Don’t Have a Lab? Build Your Lab in the Cloud with Windows Azure Virtual Machines
Join our "Early Experts" study group! Want to Get Certified? Join our Windows Server 2012 "Early Experts" Study Group
About Keith Mayer
Keith Mayer is a Technical Evangelist at Microsoft focused on Windows Infrastructure, Data Center Virtualization, Systems Management and Private Cloud. Keith has over 17 years of experience as a technical leader of complex IT projects, in diverse roles, such as Network Engineer, IT Manager, Technical Instructor and Consultant. He has consulted and trained thousands of IT professionals worldwide on the design and implementation of enterprise technology solutions.

Keith is currently certified on several Microsoft technologies, including System Center, Hyper-V, Windows, Windows Server, SharePoint and Exchange. He also holds other industry certifications from IBM, Cisco, Citrix, HP, CheckPoint, CompTIA and Interwoven.

Keith is the author of the IT Pros ROCK! Blog on Microsoft TechNet, voted as one of the Top 50 "Must Read" IT Blogs.

Keith also manages the Windows Server 2012 "Early Experts" Challenge - a FREE online study group for IT Pros interested in studying and preparing for certification on Windows Server 2012. Join us and become the next "Early Expert"!

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New York City Expo Floor Plan Revealed
Cloud Expo New York
[June 11-14, 2012]

Floor Plan Revealed


Introducing Big Data Expo
Introducing
There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Get a jump on that rapidly evolving trend at Big Data Expo, which we are introducing in June at
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Testimonials
Cloud Expo was a fantastic event for CSS Corp - we easily exceeded our objectives for engaging with clients and prospects."
AHMAR ABBAS
SVP, Global Infrastructure Management, CSS Corp.
 
With our launch at Cloud Expo, we successfully transformed the company from a relatively unknown European player into the dominant player in the market. Our competitors were taken by surprise and just blown away. We got a huge number of really high quality leads..."
PETE MALCOLM
CEO, Abiquo
 
We were extremely pleased with Cloud Expo this year - I’d say it exceeded expectations all around. This is the same info we got from partners who attended as well. Nice job!"
MARY BASS
Director of Marketing, UnivaUD
 
Cloud Expo helps focus the debate on the critical issues at hand in effect connecting main street with the next frontier."

GREG O’CONNOR
President & CEO, Appzero


Who Should Attend?
Senior Technologists including CIOs, CTOs, VPs of technology, IT directors and managers, network and storage managers, network engineers, enterprise architects, communications and networking specialists, directors of infrastructure Business Executives including CEOs, CMOs, CIOs, presidents, VPs, directors, business development; product and purchasing managers.


Join Us as a Media Partner - Together We Can Rock the IT World!
SYS-CON Media has a flourishing Media Partner program in which mutually beneficial promotion and benefits are arranged between our own leading Enterprise IT portals and events and those of our partners.

If you would like to participate, please provide us with details of your website/s and event/s or your organization and please include basic audience demographics as well as relevant metrics such as ave. page views per month.

To get involved, email Marilyn Moux at marilyn@sys-con.com.

Lastest Blog Posts
It is only fitting that the 20th anniversary of the Gartner Hype Cycle has the Internet of Things right at the top of the coaster. IoT is currently at the peak of Inflated Expectations. The Gartner Hype Cycle give organizations an assessment of the maturity, business benefit and future direction of more than 2,000 technologies. The theme for this year’s Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle is Digital Business.
Inarguably, the pressure is on "the network" to get in gear, so to speak, and address how fast its services can be up and running. Software-defined architectures like cloud and SDN have arisen in response to this pressure, attempting to provide the means by which critical network services can be provisioned in hours instead of days. Much of the blame for the time it takes to provision network services winds up landed squarely on the fact that much of the network is comprised of hardware. Not just any hardware, mind you, but special hardware. Such devices take time to procure, time to unbox, time to rack and time to cable. It's a manually intensive process that, when not anticipated, can take weeks to acquire and get into place.
Back when we were doing DB2 at IBM, there was an important older product called IMS which brought significant revenue. With another database product coming (based on relational technology), IBM did not want any cannibalization of the existing revenue stream. Hence we coined the phrase “dual database strategy” to justify the need for both DBMS products. In a similar vain, several vendors are concocting all kinds of terms and strategies to justify newer products under the banner of Big Data.
Back when we were doing DB2 at IBM, there was an important older product called IMS which brought significant revenue. With another database product coming (based on relational technology), IBM did not want any cannibalization of the existing revenue stream. Hence we coined the phrase “dual database strategy” to justify the need for both DBMS products. In a similar vain, several vendors are concocting all kinds of terms and strategies to justify newer products under the banner of Big Data.
What if you could deploy a new IT service shortly after you defined the requirements? And, just imagine the bliss, if your IT spend could directly translate into a competitive advantage. Predicting the ROI would be relatively easy. You would be the envy of your peer group. Unfortunately, as most senior executives already know, it's never that simple. Typically, you perform the technology assessment due diligence up-front, you place your bets based upon the most compelling guidance, and then you closely monitor the results. It's an iterative process, where confidence builds over time. Maybe that's why new business technology spending tends to be aligned with a past success. But this procurement model doesn't adapt very well in response to unanticipated significant market events or the rapid acceleration of unplanned technology migrations. Moreover, tight budgets and other resource constraints can severely limit an organization's ability to react quickly to changing environments.
Featuring PaaS for Internet of Things. Connecting and controlling any device on the internet is easy and cost effective if you can buy into Ayla's IOT Cloud Platform. Cloud based services on the Ayla IoT Cloud Fabric are invoked by software agents embedded in the IoT Connected devices and the mobile device apps. Since this is a complete end-to-end scalable solution Ayla Networks provides a number of benefits for the customers
The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) is focused on improving the security of software. Their mission is to make software security visible, so that individuals and organizations worldwide can make informed decisions about true software security risks and their OWASP Top 10 provides a list of the 10 Most Critical Security Risks. For each […]
If you’ve been paying close attention lately you’ll know that the “Internet of Things” has become one of the technology industry’s biggest buzz phrases. It’s not hard to figure why. The internet has been around for the last twenty years and it has truly revolutionized our lives, the way we work, and how we interact. Consider the transformations in business, commerce, culture, education, politics, and more. But experts are saying we haven’t seen anything yet. If you haven’t read the recent Digital Life in 2025 report it’s well worth your time. One of the major outcomes of this research predicts that within 10 years the internet will become “an ambient information environment where accessing the Internet will be effortless and most people will tap into it so easily it will flow through their lives ‘like electricity.’
A recent Inc.com article claimed that the percentage of U.S. small businesses using cloud computing is expected to more than double during the next six years, from 37 percent to nearly 80 percent (l). This forecast was gleaned from a just released Emergent Research and Intuit study. This statement is also very scary in that it also highlights the growing importance of the cybersecurity threat to the nation’s economic livelihood.
Think of a cloud provider. I’d bet that for the majority of people reading this article, the first that comes to mind is AWS. Amazon Web Services were a trailblazer in the cloud space, and they still lead adoption rates at all levels of the market, from SMBs to multinationals. In some ways that’s great: Amazon constantly innovate and refine their product. But, at the same time, it’s not entirely healthy for a market to be completely dominated by one vendor. Google’s Compute Engine is snapping at Amazon’s heels, but ideally we’d like to see a flourishing market with many competitors. A market in which the word “cloud” doesn’t immediately bring one vendor to mind.
Two stories on the Internet of Things (IoT) caught my eye this week. First, IDC’s prediction that the IoT market will balloon from US$1.9 trillion in 2013 to $7.1 trillion in 2020. Second, the fact it took hackers 15 seconds to hack the Google Nest thermostat – the device Google wants to make the center of the IoT for the home.
Did you see what the NFL is doing this year with sensors? Earlier this month they announced a partnership with Zebra Technologies, a company that provides RFID chips for applications from ‘automotive assembly lines to dairy cows’ milk production.’ This season there will be sensors in the player’s shoulder pads which will track all their on field movements. This includes player acceleration rates, top speed, length of runs, and even the distance between a ball carrier and a defender. Next year they’ll add sensors for breathing, temperature and heart rate. More stats than ever and could change the game for-ever. Imagine coaches being able to examine that data and instantly call a play based on it. Play by play. To me it somewhat takes away that ‘feel’ for the game flow but also having data to confirm or deny that feeling might make for exciting games. Maybe lots of 0-0 overtimes or a 70-0 blowout. Data vs. data. Oh how do I miss my old buzzing electric football game.
Kirk Byers at SDN Central writes frequently on the topic of DevOps as it relates (and applies) to the network and recently introduced a list of seven DevOps principles that are applicable in an article entitled, "DevOps and the Chaos Monkey. " On this list is the notion of reducing variation. This caught my eye because reducing variation is a key goal of Six Sigma and in fact its entire formula is based on measuring the impact of variation in results. The thought is that by measuring deviation from a desired outcome, you can immediately recognize whether changes to a process improve the consistency of the outcome.Quality is achieved by reducing variation, or so the methodology goes.
Achieving the ultimate ‘Five Nines’ of web site availability (around 5 minutes of downtime a year) has been a goal of many organizations since the beginning of the internet era. There are several ways to accomplish this but essentially a few principles apply. Web applications come in all shapes and sizes from static to dynamic, from simple to complex from specific to general. No matter the size, availability is important to support the customers and the business. The most basic high-availability architecture is the typical 3-tier design. A pair of ADCs in the DMZ terminates the connection; they in turn intelligently distribute the client request to a pool (multiple) of application servers which then query the database servers for the appropriate content. Each tier has redundant servers so in the event of a server outage, the others take the load and the system stays available.
The focus of a BI professional in an organization is to help get the right information to the right decision makers at the right time. In modern times, Big Data analytics has been one of the primary sources of business intelligence acquisition. Tools like Hadoop have revolutionized the way enterprise businesses interpret the millions of data points that they own about customer behavior and turn them into meaningful inferences. But before the data reaches this stage, it passes through the several modules of an ERP system - an ERP system handles the whole gamut of operations right from demand estimation, to inventory purchase, stockpiling, distribution, sales and revenue generation. As a result, cloud ERP plays quite a crucial role in generating the most accurate information for business intelligence. Here are some ways it is done.
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Past SYS-CON Events
    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2011west.sys-con.com

 
    Cloud Expo East
cloudcexpo
2011east.sys-con.com

 
    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2010west.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo West
virtualization
2010west.sys-con.com
    Cloud Expo Europe
cloudexpoeurope2010.
sys-con.com

 
    Cloud Expo East
cloudcomputingexpo
2010east.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo East
virtualizationconference
2010east.sys-con.com
    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2009west.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo West
virtualizationconference
2009west.sys-con.com
    GovIT Expo
govitexpo.com
 
    Cloud Expo Europe
cloudexpoeurope2009.sys-con.com
 

Cloud Expo 2011 Allstar Conference Faculty

S.F.S.
Dell

Singer
NRO

Pereyra
Oracle

Ryan
OpSource

Butte
PwC

Leone
Oracle

Riley
AWS

Varia
AWS

Lye
Oracle

O'Connor
AppZero

Crandell
RightScale

Nucci
Dell Boomi

Hillier
CiRBA

Morrison
Layer 7 Tech

Robbins
NYT

Schwarz
Oracle

What The Enterprise IT World Says About Cloud Expo
 
"We had extremely positive feedback from both customers and prospects that attended the show and saw live demos of NaviSite's enterprise cloud based services."
  –William Toll
Sr. Director, Marketing & Strategic Alliances
Navisite
 


 
"More and better leads than ever expected! I have 4-6 follow ups personally."
  –Richard Wellner
Chief Scientist
Univa UD
 


 
"Good crowd, good questions. The event looked very successful."
  –Simon Crosby
CTO
Citrix Systems
 


 
"It's the largest cloud computing conference I've ever seen."
  –David Linthicum
CTO
Brick Group