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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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Cloud Expo - Cloud Looms Large on SYS-CON.TV


Cloud Expo 2013 East Opening Keynote by IBM
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New York City Expo Floor Plan Revealed
Cloud Expo New York
[June 11-14, 2012]

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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!"
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@CloudExpo Blogs
DoubleDown Interactive, a provider of online free-to-play casino games, needs to process huge amounts of streaming event data from their games and make that data rapidly available to data scientists and analysts. Hear how Amazon S3 and Snowflake’s Elastic Data Warehouse have made it possible for DoubleDown to deploy a reliable, scalable data architecture for their analytics needs. You’ll learn how Amazon S3 and Snowflake technology help address key challenges in building data pipelines and processing data and how DoubleDown combines Amazon Kinesis, S3, and Snowflake to ingest, store, and proc...
Need a crash course on what DevOps is, how to foster a collaborative environment, and how to measure the effectiveness? We created a DevOps course, which presents you with a series of interactive questions to test your knowledge. Having just viewed the course myself, I have to say it’s a great introduction to DevOps and what it means for the enterprise. Plus it has a number of key use cases to how our Application Intelligence Platform can help an organization transforming into a DevOps operating model.
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
In “Thinking Like a Data Scientist – Part I”, we examined the challenges for getting the business users to think like data scientists when contemplating where and how to leverage big data to drive business value. We introduced a “Thinking Like a Data Scientist” process that starts with identifying and understanding the organization’s top-level strategic business initiatives, then uses a “Strategic Nouns” technique to create potential business questions that were descriptive, predictive or in nature.
“Oh, dev is dev and ops is ops, and never the twain shall meet.” With apoloies to Rudyard Kipling and all of his fans, this describes the early state of the two sides of DevOps. Yet the DevOps approach is demanded by cloud computing, as the speed, flexibility, and scalability in today's so-called “Third Platform” must not be hindered by the traditional limitations of software development and deployment. A recent report by Gartner, for example, says that 25% of Global 2000 companies will be DevOps shops by next year! “As we see more IT shops running like software companies, we’ll see mor...
Application metrics, logs, and business KPIs are a goldmine. It’s easy to get started with the ELK stack (Elasticsearch, Logstash and Kibana) – you can see lots of people coming up with impressive dashboards, in less than a day, with no previous experience. Going from proof-of-concept to production tends to be a bit more difficult, unfortunately, and it tends to gobble up our attention, time, and money. In his session at DevOps Summit, Otis Gospodnetić, co-author of Lucene in Action and founder of Sematext, will share the architecture and decisions behind Sematext’s services for handling larg...
CIOs are increasingly concerned about cloud security. And they should be: with the recent outbreak of visible breaches at high-profile organizations like Target, Anthem, and others, and the subsequent damage they cause, corporations are scrambling to make sure their cloud applications, whether on private, public, or hybrid clouds, are safe. But cloud security is complex. With ephemeral applications and services springing up around multiple data centers, with dozens or hundreds of independent microservices each with their own access mechanisms, with the widespread adoption of virtualization an...
Over the last couple of years I have talked to numerous enterprise customers, analysts, industry pundits, and others interested in cloud technologies, and one thing is abundantly clear – Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) seems to mean different things to different people. But the term PaaS is irrelevant – it's just noise. What is relevant, and what is important, is what PaaS does: enable applications. That's what enterprises care about. They want to accelerate application development to get products to market faster and into users' hands sooner.
Traditional storage was designed to present a LUN to a server. This worked well until that server became a hypervisor running 10, 20 or 30 virtual servers, all pointing to the same LUN. Adding to the complexity, all hypervisors need to point to the same LUN to enable VM mobility or high availability. Architecturally, this creates a many-to-one relationship that makes optimization impossible. Each VM has a different I/O pattern. When they all mix together, the aggregate I/O becomes highly random, creating performance issues with no way to isolate problems or control I/O per VM.
Docker is an open platform for developers and sysadmins of distributed applications that enables them to build, ship, and run any app anywhere. Docker allows applications to run on any platform irrespective of what tools were used to build it making it easy to distribute, test, and run software. I found this 5 Minute Docker video, which is very helpful when you want to get a quick and digestible overview. If you want to learn more, you can go to Docker’s web page and start with this Docker introduction video. Docker makes it very easy to make changes and package the software quickly for oth...
DevOps has quickly become the buzzword du jour for the software industry and promotes something that many developers and IT Administrators don’t enjoy: collaboration. According to Wikipedia, “DevOps acknowledges the interdependence of software development, quality assurance, and IT operations“. By having all three arms of a technology department collaborating, software products and services can be produced with a high quality bar and operational efficiencies. In this article, we’ll review how IT operations can engage more with a customer’s experience and assist software development in isolatin...
The last decade was about virtual machines, but the next one is about containers. Containers enable a service to run on any host at any time. Traditional tools are starting to show cracks because they were not designed for this level of application portability. Now is the time to look at new ways to deploy and manage applications at scale. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Jake Moshenko, Product Manager at CoreOS, will examine how CoreOS + Quay.io fit into the development lifecycle from pushing git changes all the way through to running in production. Attendees will understand how different ...
There are BIG changes on the horizon for the healthcare industry – the power struggle between healthcare providers such as hospitals, and healthcare payers such as insurance companies – and Big Data is at the heart of driving these changes. I’m struck by what’s happening in the healthcare industry – between healthcare providers such as hospitals, and healthcare payers such as insurance companies – and how that industry is ripe for a metamorphosis into something much more efficient, effective and customer (patient)-centric. And within this metamorphosis, new power brokers are likely to emerge;...
One question I frequently get is: “How do I become a data scientist?” Wow, tough question. There are several new books that outline the different skills, capabilities and technologies that a data scientist is going to need to learn and eventually master. I’ve read several of these books and am impressed with the depth of the content. Unfortunately, these books spend the vast majority of their time reviewing and/or teaching things such as the data science processes (such as CRISP: Cross Industry Standard Process for Data Mining), and basic and advanced statistics, data mining and data visua...
The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential. The DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo – to be held June 3-5, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City – will expand the DevOps community, enable a wide sharing of knowledge, and educate delegates and technology providers alike. Recent research has sho...
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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