Step-by-step: Connecting System Center App Controller to Azure Virtual Machines


So, you want to get started with Windows Azure VM’s and System Center?

Well, here’s the fast track.

Check this out when you have time – Mark Russinovich @ TechEd talking about Azure Virtual Machines.

Get an Azure 3 month trial account: https://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/

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Second, you need System Center App Controller SP1 CTP2.  This integration will not work with the RTM version (or any other previous version) of App Controller.  You can download it here:  http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=30133

We’ll configure App Controller a little later – you don’t have to have VMM installed to get the Azure piece working, but if you want to upload VM’s to Azure, you’ll need to have that integration because you can only upload VM’s from the VMM library.

When you get logged into your trial account, you may see the following screen, I did.  You may need to sign-up for the preview program.  I was approved quickly (within a few hours).

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Once that’s done we have a few other details to take care.  Specifically, creating a certificate that we’ll use to connect App Controller to Azure.  You can do this with an IIS Server.  Just follow the screen shots.  The process is pretty straightforward.  We’re creating a self-signed X.509 certificate that we import into Azure and App Controller.  The steps to do this are well documented on the internet.

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Click on the “Server Certificates” and then click the option to create a “Self-Signed Cert”:

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Now provide a “FRIENDLY NAME” – it doesn’t have to be anything specific or match anything in Azure…call it whatever you want.

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This will create and place the certificate in the local machine.  Create a custom MMC Console and connect to ‘certificates’ on the local machine.

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Search by the column “FRIENDLY NAME” to match what you put in the “FRIENDLY NAME” when you ran through the wizard:

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Do a right-click –> All Tasks –> Export

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The first cert we will create will be the one we will upload in Azure.  Choose this option:

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Use DER encoding and save the *.cer file to disk where you can easily get to it.

IMPORTANT: You’ll want to run through that export wizard again on the same cert you used to create the *.cer file and this time select the YES, EXPORT THE PRIVATE KEY option.  This is the key that you’ll use in App Controller.  This process will create a *.PFX file.

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Let’s go back out to our Azure Portal.  If you are still in the 'new’ metro style interface, the easiest way to get the cert in is to go back to the previous interface.  You can do this by hovering the mouse over the green PREVIEW area at the top of the webpage and a window will fly open prompting you to go back to the older interface:

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Now that you’re in the old interface – lets’ import the *.cer.  I’ve highlighted all the places that you need to pay attention to.  Use the ‘add cert’ to upload your *.cer file.  You’ll want to take note of the ‘SUBSCRIPTION ID’ as you’ll need that in App Controller to get the integration working.

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Now, let’s go to App Controller.

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Once everything is working right, you’ll see your Azure subscription appear and as you create VM’s using the Azure Portal, they will appear in App Controller:

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You can create VM’s using the Azure Preview Portal or using App Controller:

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Be sure to read the documentation (linked above) to get a more complete picture on what you can / cannot do with App Controller CTP2 and Azure.  This should get you going on the integration piece though.

Good luck!


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