Leveraging IaaS and PaaS with Windows Azure Pack and System Center 2012 R2

~ Stephen Baron | Program Manager

imageWindows Azure Pack and System Center 2012 R2 expose Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) capabilities via features such as VM Clouds (Virtual Machines), SQL Servers (SQL Server Databases) and MySQL Server (MySQL Databases). This article shows how to combine IaaS and PaaS services in order to deploy and configure a bulletin board application (phpBB version 3.0.12). To accomplish this, we’ll leverage the Virtual Machine Role feature of the VM Clouds Service and the MySQL Database as a Service capability.

To be sure, this solution could be realized entirely on PaaS services which ship as part of Windows Azure Pack, specifically the Web Sites Clouds service where phpBB is an available Web App:


For the purposes of this post, however, we’ll assume that we want to run the phpBB web application in a VM Role; for example, perhaps we want to run phpBB on CentOS.  With that said, let’s get started.

phpBB is a free flat-forum bulletin board solution which leverages a php based web site and a MySQL Server database. We’ll create and host the database using the MySQL Databases service and deploy a CentOS6 based Virtual Machine Role and automatically download and install phpBB version 3.0.12 as part of the deployment.

To get started, we’ve downloaded and imported the “phpBB using DaaS” sample gallery resource from the Service Models Web Platform Installer feed. You can find details of accessing the feed in the Service Models Web Platform Installer Gallery blog post as well as in this video.

We’ve added the “phpBB using DaaS” Gallery Resource to the Virtual Machine Clouds service of our PreProduction plan:


We’ve also enabled and configured MySQL Servers capabilities and added this feature to the PreProduction plan services:


To get started, I’ll access the Windows Azure Pack tenant portal as a user with a subscription to the PreProduction plan. The first thing I’ll do is create a MySQL Server database to serve as the backend of the phpBB solution I want to deploy:



Now that my database has been created, I can click the View Info option at the bottom of the Windows Azure Pack interface and get the connection string details that I’ll need when configuring phpBB:


The next thing I need to do is deploy my phpBB front end; as indicated earlier, I’ll be using a Virtual Machine Role Gallery Item in order to do this:




Once my Virtual Machine Role deployment is complete, I can get information about the deployed instance:


I then access the Virtual Machine Role instance via my web browser and the phpBB configuration wizard starts. During the configuration wizard, I leverage the connection string values of the MySQL Server database I created earlier:



After completing the configuration wizard, I have a fully functioning phpBB instance:



I hope this post was not only useful, but that it also sparks additional ideas on how you can effectively leverage and combine Windows Azure Pack and System Center 2012 R2 services to enable your own custom solutions.


Stephen Baron | Program Manager | Microsoft

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