Microsoft’s Azure comes loaded with dozens of powerful tools. For some, however, all that is needed is the ability to migrate existing virtual machines already running in your current datacenter. This is known as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). 

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Why Are Virtual Machines Important?

Virtual machines (VMs) are a fast track to the cloud for many IT organizations. A VM is a self-contained solution running an OS, custom software, and services, all in one package. Companies such as VMWare have popularized the power virtual computer environments. The problem with hardware servers is that the server is often more potent than all of the services it is running. VMs solve this problem. One hardware server can run multiple virtual machines on the same hardware. In essence, what you have the perception of two to six different servers running on one piece of equipment.

The advantage Azure offers is the ability to create an unlimited number of virtual machines. You are not restricted to the hardware of a single server in a traditional datacenter. Also, Azure offers many controls you can use to monitor your VM environment and performance. In the next section, let’s set up a virtual machine using Azure.

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Creating Virtual Machines in Azure

As with web apps, creating a VM in Azure is a few clicks of the mouse button. The following steps will set up your first VM running on Microsoft Azure.

  1. Go to portal.azure.com and authenticate it into your dashboard.
  2. From the left side menu, select “Virtual Machines.” This will bring up a list of all of your VMs.
  3. For your first VM, select the button labeled “Create Virtual Machine.”

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  1. You will be presented with a series of choices:
    • Subscription: Select “Free Trial.”
    • Resource Group: Select the “simpliLearnResource” created in the Web App section.
    • Give your virtual machine a unique name: SimpliLearnVM
    • Choose the region you want the VM to be hosted: The default is the region you live in. In this case, the central United States.
    • Availability options are additional monitoring options you can select. For this instance, let’s keep to the default setting.
    • Image refers to the base OS. The most popular flavors of Linux and Windows are offered.
    • Size refers to the RAM and Volume size.
    • The administrator account gives you access. Choose an admin ID and password.

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    2. At this time you can select the “Review + Create” button to build a basic virtual machine. However, you do have the option to customize the following:

    • Disk space to run from disk or SSD
    • Networking configuration
    • Management and Advanced VM settings

    3. It will take a few minutes to create your first VM. Once created, you can access and manage your VM from the VM Dashboard. In addition, you will have access to manage your VMs.

    The steps listed above provide simple steps for building our first virtual machine. There is a lot more you can do with VMs. Explore through the general settings Microsoft Azure supports.

    Beyond the Basics

    After you have a solid understanding of how to get a virtual machine image from the Azure cloud, you will want to begin to take advantage of several advanced options.

    First, you’ll want to have a look at how to configure and create a custom build for Azure's build system, which is called the build machine. This will take a little bit of extra time to set up, but it will save you a lot of time if you decide that you will do a lot of customizing to the image.

    Once you have that done, you will want to look at how to configure your images so that the images do not exceed Azure's built-in limits. This will make your images much more robust. 

    Finally, you can use your existing storage infrastructure more effectively to reduce the amount of bandwidth required to provide the same service. 

    The three advanced options are by no means complete. They are meant to give you information to help you understand the capabilities available with a single click when building virtual machines on Microsoft Azure.

    Where to Find the Support You Need

    What happens when you hit a roadblock and new help? The good news is that you have a tremendous amount of support for any solution you create with Microsoft Azure. Here are key ways to ensure you have the help you need:

    • Online Forums: From StackOverFlow through to MSDN Forums, there are many places you can go to get help.
    • Support Groups: From local meetups to web forums, there are many ways to you can get access to the millions of engineers building solutions with Microsoft Azure.
    • Get Certified: Microsoft has always had a strong history of supporting certification. In addition, SimpliLearn also offers classes you can attend to learn how to be a virtual machine wizard.

    Get Started Using Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines

    Virtual machines are one of Azure’s more mature products. The services are reliable and supported with good documentation. The next step you will want to take is to migrate an existing virtual machine from your current data center to Microsoft Azure. Take advantage of Azure’s analytical tools to measure the effectiveness and reliability of the service. Use data to decide which virtual machines you want to move and when. Then, make a plan and get started.

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