Vol. 49, #8 - September 30, 2013 - Issue #949


Windows Azure Virtual Machines

  1. Editor's Corner
    • A short personal note
    • Windows Azure Virtual Machines
    • Tip of the Week
    • Recommended for Learning
    • Quote of the Week
  2. Admin Toolbox
    • Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
  3. Events Calendar
    • Americas
    • Europe
  4. Webcast Calendar
    • Register for Webcasts
  5. Tech Briefing
    • SharePoint, Exchange and Office
    • Windows PowerShell
    • System Center
    • Windows Azure
    • Other Cloud Computing
    • Acknowledgements
  6. Windows Server News
    • Public or private? Picking your hybrid cloud strategy's starting point
    • When is a small-scale VDI implementation the right fit?
    • Hyper-V 2012 R2 changes: What are Generation 2 virtual machines?
    • Prevent vSphere High Availability woes through a proper configuration
  7. WServerNews FAVE Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Fun Stuff.
  8. WServerNews - Product of the Week
    • Altaro Hyper-V Backup – Free for WServerNews subscribers – SEP/OCT 2013


Altaro Hyper-V Backup – Free for WServerNews subscribers – SEP/OCT 2013

Make backing up and restoring Hyper-V VMs easy to manage and get rid of one worry you don’t need. Less hassle, more time left and Free for WServerNews subscribers.

Download your copy now!


Editor's Corner

This week's newsletter is all about running your virtualized server workloads in the cloud using Windows Azure Virtual Machines with an excerpt from an upcoming FREE (!!!) ebook by Yours Truly. Yes I know, this is another fine example of your Dear Editor abusing this newsletter to shamelessly promote himself. But the fact is, being shameless can sometimes be to your advantage as this classic Dilbert comic illustrates:

A short personal note


I'm very excited to announce a free ebook offering from Microsoft Press: Microsoft System Center: Designing Orchestrator Runbooks (ISBN 9780735682986) by David Ziembicki, Aaron Cushner, Andreas Rynes and the System Center series editor which is myself (Mitch Tulloch). This is the first in a series of unique (and free) ebooks that bring System Center experts together to discuss designing, deploying, and troubleshooting some of the most complex and mission critical aspects of key System Center capabilities. For more information and to download this free ebook in PDF, MOBI and EPUB format, see this post on the Microsoft Press blog:

Windows Azure Virtual Machines

Windows Azure Virtual Machines is a scalable, on-demand IaaS platform you can use to quickly provision and deploy server workloads into the cloud. Once deployed, you can then configure, manage, and monitor those virtual machines, load-balance traffic between them, and connect them to other Windows Azure Cloud Services running web roles and worker roles. You can copy virtual hard disks (VHDs) from your on-premises environment into Windows Azure to use as templates for creating new virtual machines. And you can copy VHDs out of Windows Azure and run them locally in your datacenter.

You can create new virtual machines from a standard image available in the Windows Azure gallery. Standard images are included for current versions of Windows Server and for different flavors of Linux. Standard images are also available for Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft SQL Server, and Microsoft BizTalk Server pre-installed on Windows Server. Standard images are a great way of quickly provisioning new virtual machines, but you can also use images you created on-premises to deploy new virtual machines.

Virtual machine instances that you create in Windows Azure are also persistent and self-healing during hardware failures. This means that any new data created by the virtual machine will not be deleted when the virtual machine is restarted. This is because the virtual disk backing your virtual machine is stored in your Windows Azure storage account. Any data disks you attach to your virtual machine are also persistent and are backed with Windows Azure Storage BLOBs. By contrast, instances of the Web Roles and Worker Roles are self-healing but are not persistent.

Virtual machine charges are calculated by the hour for use, so you can save money by shutting down virtual machines you aren't using. And a monthly SLA that guarantees 99.95 percent uptime means that Windows Azure can be trusted as a reliable way of extending your on-premises workloads to the cloud.

Provisioning a new virtual machine

Creating a new virtual machine in Windows Azure is easy. Just open the Windows Azure Management Portal and select the Virtual Machines tab on the left and click the New button in the command bar at the bottom. The command bar expands and displays two options for creating virtual machines: Quick Create or From Gallery.

The Quick Create option lets you create a new virtual machine which you can configure later. As Figure 1 shows, all you need to specify for this option is the DNS name for your virtual machine, the image to use as a template for your virtual machine, the size of the virtual machine (number of cores), a user name and password for administrative access to the virtual machine, and the region or affinity group to which the virtual machine should be assigned.


Figure 1: The Quick Create option for a virtual machine.

The other option, called From Gallery, lets you create a virtual machine by specifying advanced options presented in a series of pages. The first page shown in Figure 2 allows you to choose an image to be used as a template when creating your virtual machine.


Figure 2: You can choose an image on which your new virtual machine will be based.

The next page shown in Figure 3 is where you specify a hostname for your virtual machine, its size, and username/password for administrative access.


Figure 3: You continue to configure the new virtual machine on this page.

The remaining pages are where various advanced settings can be configured, for example whether to create a new cloud service or use an existing one; whether to automatically generate a new storage account or use an existing one; the region, affinity group or virtual network to which the virtual machine should be assigned; an availability set to ensure that your virtual machine is not affected by single points of failure, such as the network switch or the power unit of a rack of servers; and the protocols and ports to be used for endpoints like Remote Desktop, Windows PowerShell, or SSH.

Once you've completed the wizard, you can watch it being provisioned using the Windows Azure Management Portal. Figure 4 shows one virtual machine running and a second one in the process of being provisioned.


Figure 4: An example of viewing two virtual machines, one running and the other being provisioned.

Once the second virtual machine is up and running, you can use the command bar at the bottom to perform management tasks like shutting down or restarting the virtual machine, attaching or detaching disks, connecting to the guest operating system of the virtual machine, or deleting the virtual machine.

If you select a virtual machine running some version of Windows Server and click Connect, you are provided an opportunity to download an .rdp file as shown in Figure 5.


Figure 5: An example of downloading the .rdp file.

After downloading the .rdp file to your computer, you can double-click it to connect to the virtual machine using Remote Desktop Connection (Mstsc.exe). Connecting to the virtual machine displays its desktop in the Virtual Machine Connect (VMC) window, as shown in Figure 6. From here you can further configure the guest operating system of the virtual machine, install and configure applications, and perform other management tasks as if the virtual machine running in the cloud was just another physical server located in your datacenter.


Figure 6: A new server running in the Windows Azure cloud.

To learn more about Windows Azure Virtual Machines, check out the links under Windows Azure in the Tech Briefing section of this newsletter. But first let's learn from an insider at Microsoft about how you can use Windows PowerShell to create and manage virtual machines running in Windows Azure... [You'll have to wait for the ebook to read this part. --Editor]

Send us feedback

Have you tried Windows Azure Virtual Machines or any other Windows Azure service? Share your experiences with us at [email protected]

Tip of the Week

PCs getting kicked out of the domain

PROBLEM: Bob migrated his desktop environment from Windows XP to Windows 7. After migration the PCs were then joined to the company's Active Directory domain. One morning he discovered that several of the PCs had been dis-joined from the domain. Upon investigation Bob found that a system restore had been performed on the affected PCs. So what probably happened was that the PCs had been restored to a state prior to the last automatic password reset for the computer accounts of the affected PCs. But why did system restore happen on the PCs in the first place?

RESOLUTION: Bob eventually surmised that what had happened was that the night before there had been an interruption in the electrical power to the offices where the affected PCs were located. As a result, the PCs did not shut down cleanly, and when the restarted they went into startup recovery. Startup recovery failed however, and a system restore was initiated as a result.

LESSON LEARNED: Disable system restore on domain-joined PCs so this kind of thing can't happen.

GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at [email protected]

Recommended for Learning

Four new SharePoint titles from Microsoft Press you might want to check out:

Microsoft SharePoint 2013 Inside Out

Microsoft SharePoint 2013: Planning for Adoption and Governance

Microsoft SharePoint 2013: Designing and Architecting Solutions

Microsoft SharePoint 2013 Step by Step

Check out more SharePoint resources in the Tech Briefing section of this issue

Quote of the Week

"The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play." - Arnold Toynbee

Note to subscribers: If for some reason you don’t receive your weekly issue of this newsletter, please notify us at [email protected] and we’ll try to troubleshoot things from our end.


Admin Toolbox

Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without

Make backing up and restoring Hyper-V VMs easy to manage and get rid of one worry you don’t need. Less hassle, more time left and Free for WServerNews subscribers .

Server performance problems? Find out why with FactFinder Express. See whether the issue is a slow app, slow SQL requests, or a CPU/Memory/Disk bottleneck. 30 day free trial.

Network monitoring made easy! Download SolarWinds free Network Device Monitor to quickly and easily start monitoring real-time performance and health of a single network device!

InSite is an easy to use yet powerful website spell checker and link validation tool that can check your entire site in seconds:

EditPad Lite—Free Text Editor for Windows:


Events Calendar


Project Conference, 2014 on February 2-5 in Anaheim, California

Lync Conference 2014 on February 18-20, 2014 at The Aria in Las Vegas, Nevada

SharePoint Conference 2014 on March 3-6, 2014 at The Venetian in Las Vegas, Nevada

Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC 2014) coming in July, 2014 in Washington, D.C.


European SharePoint Conference on May 5-8, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain

Add your event

PLANNING A CONFERENCE OR OTHER EVENT you'd like to tell our 95,000 subscribers about? Contact [email protected]


Webcast Calendar

Register for Webcasts

 Add your Webcast

PLANNING A WEBCAST you'd like to tell our subscribers about? Contact [email protected]


Tech Briefing

This section is organized topically by platform/product and provides you with links to tips, tools, information and other resources that can help you in your job role whether you're an IT professional or an IT decision-maker.  

SharePoint, Exchange and Office

Power Map Preview for Excel 2013 (Microsoft Download Center)

Social feature support for SharePoint Server 2013 (Microsoft Download Center)

Discover SharePoint: download the use case catalog and adoption guide (Microsoft Download Center)

Microsoft Power Query Preview for Excel (Microsoft Download Center)

Design Sample: Corporate Portal with Host-named Sites for SharePoint Server 2013 (Microsoft Download Center)


Windows PowerShell

Build a lab in Windows Azure for learning PowerShell – Part 1 of 3 – Speed Build a Virtual Network (Chris Avis)

Windows Azure Virtual Network and VMs Deployment with Windows Azure PowerShell Cmdlets (Yung Chou on Hybrid Cloud)

PowerShell Scripts to Audit and Remove Trusted Root CA Certificates (Windows Security Blog)

File System Security PowerShell Module 2.3 (TechNet Script Center) - HOT! Downloaded almost 100,000 times!!


System Center

Test Lab Guide: Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V Network Virtualization with System Center 2012 R2 VMM (Microsoft Download Center)

System Center Management Pack for SQL Server (Microsoft Download Center)


Windows Azure

VIDEO: Infrastructure Services on Windows Azure: Virtual Machines and Virtual Networks with Mark Russinovich

VIDEO: Building Your Lab, Dev, and Test Scenarios in Windows Azure Infrastucture Services (IaaS)

VIDEO: Best Practices from Real Customers: Deploying to Windows Azure Infrastructure Services (IaaS)

VIDEO: Crash Course on Automating Deployments in Windows Azure Virtual Machines. How and Which Tools?

VIDEO: Take Control of the Cloud with the Windows Azure PowerShell Cmdlets

Windows Azure Virtual Machines (Documentation)

Windows Azure Virtual Machines (Overview)


Other cloud computing

Implementing Hybrid Cloud at Microsoft (Microsoft Download Center)



We'd like to thank the following individuals for contributing items for this section from time to time:


Windows Server News

Public or private? Picking your hybrid cloud strategy's starting point

Survey results convey most organizations have upcoming plans for a hybrid cloud deployment, but few have actually begun developing their projects. Read now for expert tips to get you started in strategizing for the hybrid cloud in order to ensure an effective, long-term cloud future.

When is a small-scale VDI implementation the right fit?

The technical complexity of large-scale VDI deployment leaves many IT pros resistant to this technology, but is there a compelling use-case for small-scale VDI implementation? Find out as our team of experts discusses how and why focused, limited deployment of VDI can make sense in certain scenarios.

Hyper-V 2012 R2 changes: What are Generation 2 virtual machines?

Generation 2 VMs strive to modernize the virtual machine structure that has remained relatively unchanged since Windows Server 2008 – but what are the specifics of this feature and why are they important? This IT guide will offer expert advice for understanding the latest Hyper-V 2012 R2 changes and the value of Generation 2 VMs.

Prevent vSphere High Availability woes through a proper configuration

Your virtual safety net won’t be effective unless you’ve applied the right vSphere High Availability setting for your environment – and this isn’t something you leave to chance. Review these expert guidelines to ensure you’ve properly configured your vSphere cluster.


WServerNews FAVE Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

GOT FUN VIDEOS or other fun links to suggest you'd like to recommend? Email us at [email protected]


A 1920s vintage Dodge Brothers sedan drives down muddy roads and across muddy fields to get to the gushing oil well.

An eagle carrying a small video camera shows us what it's like to fly over 'La Mer De Glace' in Chamonix, France.

Cats and dogs enjoy trying to fit into small spaces:

Have you ever wondered why the full moon looks bigger on the horizon than high overhead?

An oldie but goodie: Dom DeLuise performs the 'egg trick' at The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Amazing!


WServerNews - Product of the Week

Altaro Hyper-V Backup – Free for WServerNews subscribers – SEP/OCT 2013

Make backing up and restoring Hyper-V VMs easy to manage and get rid of one worry you don’t need. Less hassle, more time left and Free for WServerNews subscribers.

Download your copy now!


WServerNews - Editors

Mitch Tulloch is Senior Editor of WServerNews and is a widely recognized expert on Windows administration, deployment and virtualization. Mitch was lead author of the bestselling Windows 7 Resource Kit from Microsoft Press and has published hundreds of articles for IT pros. Mitch is also a seven-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his outstanding contributions in support of the global IT pro community. Mitch owns and runs an information technology content development business based in Winnipeg, Canada. For more information see www.mtit.com