by Nick Johnson, PMP
US Partner Technology Strategist for Microsoft Azure
The Microsoft Azure Partner Community is led by National Partner Technology Strategists from the Microsoft US Partner Team. Partner Community activities include blog posts, discussions on Yammer, newsletters, and community calls.
This is part 2 of our series about managing Virtual Machines. Read part 1 here.
Virtual Machine Management and Developer Tools
When I talk with partner IT pros and developers about running a Virtual Machine (VM) in the cloud, there is usually a good understanding of what a VM can do. They are considered easy to create and work with. The questions I hear about VMs are typically around the tools available for VM management and developers.
For developers who need a test system, traditional IT engagement might include long wait times for a company’s IT department to provision a VM, or result in a tug-of-war over resources on the VM host server. There can also be issues over capital expenses for dedicated machines that have very cyclical utilization.
Microsoft Azure, paired with Visual Studio, provides welcome relief for this issue. Together, they give a developer the power to go from working on a project to testing it, in minutes. There is value in the speed as well as paying for the resources only when they are needed.
One of my favorite features is the ability to create and manage Azure Virtual Machines from right inside Visual Studio. With Visual Studio you can:
- Create an Azure Virtual Machine
- Manage the Virtual Machine configuration settings
- Save, capture, restore, and provision images
There is an excellent tutorial, Create and Manage Azure Virtual Machines in Visual Studio, that explains how to do these things, step-by-step and with screenshots. You may also find this article useful: Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio.
For organizations using Azure in all-cloud or hybrid environments, managing the various machines efficiently is critical. There are a few different options for Virtual Machine management, and what you choose can be influenced by several factors, like the number of VMs running, available tools, and environment configuration. Regardless of what tool you decide to use, defining a strategy for managing VMs from the beginning can make any implementation easier.
Here is a look at three options, each with resources so you can learn more about each:
If you are working in Azure, there is the management portal. There have been some recent changes and updates that are in preview. This video from TechEd Europe provides some demos and tutorials about how to best utilize the Azure Portal. Focus on the discussions about Resource Groups, Azure Marketplace, and Deployment Templates. Then, try the portal and send your feedback so we can make it more useful to you.
If you are interested in DevOps, the short video here highlights some of what the new Azure Portal can help you do.
Windows PowerShell can be used to create, manage, and remove all kinds of Azure VM environments. In this article from MSDN, Using Windows PowerShell Scripts to Publish to Dev and Test Environments, you’ll find detailed guidance and how-to information.
Microsoft System Center
If your customer is using Azure in a hybrid scenario, System Center may be a good option for VM management. Here are resources that will help you understand how to use System Center to manage Azure.
- Download the System Center Monitoring Pack for Windows Azure Applications
- Read Deploying Virtual Machines in Azure using the Service Manager Self-Service Portal
- Watch these two videos: Microsoft Hybrid Cloud – Manage Azure with Microsoft System Center and Extending Microsoft System Center to Monitor and Manage Virtual Environments