Understanding Azure: Creating Virtual Machines

As one of the most popular ways for businesses to scale on demand, using Azure Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a superb way for your customers to focus on their business needs without spending the time and upfront costs normally associated with managing and maintaining the on-premises infrastructure. Utilising cloud servers, otherwise known as Virtual Machines (VMs), is one of the best ways to secure your customers’ business-critical workloads.

What are Virtual Machines?

A Virtual Machine (VM) behaves exactly like a real computer and includes its own CPUs, memory, hard drives and network interfaces. Each VM runs in a window on the physical computer, which is contained separately in a sandbox environment, to save the software inside the VM from tampering with the physical computer. They are ideal for testing workloads, running operating system backups, and for backing up and storing existing business workloads that are both in use (as ‘hot’ data) or infrequently used (as ‘cold’ data). The default Azure subscription limits you to 20 VMs per region, meaning you can spin up several to run simultaneously on the same physical computer. However, to make use of this, you’ll need a hypervisor – known as a connector – to join each VM so you can adequately manage and maintain them.

How can I use Virtual Machines to help transition customers to the Azure Public Cloud?

There are a variety of ways you can use VMs to help your customers. There’s no one size fits all model, so it will entirely depend on what your customer wants to achieve with an Azure VM as to how you implement and deploy their public cloud infrastructure. It’s also important to plan their specifications in terms of what type of server (Windows, Linux, SAP or Oracle) they need, what size of VM is adequate, and their preferred location of the hard disk storage. For example, we recommend using VMs for the following:

  • Sandboxing – VMs are perfect for test environments. Use for testing applications, workloads and to access virus-infected data (should the worst happen to your customer).
  • Applications or a Business Website – Seasonal demand or random peaks in the year can put pressure on hosting platforms. By using ‘cloud bursting’ you can utilise VMs to handle customer demand without affecting business. For example, e-commerce websites during the Black Friday sales would benefit from ‘cloud bursting’.
  • Extending their on-premises datacentre – Place non-critical or non-sensitive workloads in the public cloud while keeping your customer’s most sensitive data in their private cloud. Known as a Hybrid Cloud approach, it’s the perfect way to transition the most sceptical of customers.

Creating your Azure VM

The Azure Portal is one of the best places to start when creating a VM for Windows Server 2016. Before you access the portal, there’s seven different points you need to think about:

  1. The names of your application resources
  2. The preferred location to store resources
  3. The size of the VM your customer will need
  4. The maximum number of VMs that can be created
  5. The operating system that the VM runs
  6. The configuration of the VM after it starts
  7. The related resources that the VM needs

Once you’ve got all these in place, creating and connecting your VM is quite simple. For a more detailed guide on how to deploy VMs, click here to access Microsoft’s quick start guide. In our next few ‘Understanding Azure’ blogs, we’ll be exploring what else you can do with Azure for Backup and Disaster Recovery. For more information on the benefits of reselling Azure with Giacom, contact our Account Management team on 0333 332 0888.

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