Azure SQL Database–Firewall

In my last post, I talked about how to create an Azure SQL database. In this post, I am going to talk about how to connect to the same. You have multiple options to connect to the database:

1. Through the Management Portal using the link: https://<Azure SQL Database Server Name>.database.windows.net/

2. SQL Server Management tools like Management Studio, SQL Server Data Tools

3. Through programmatic means using .NET or other languages

But before you start connecting to your database, you will first need to setup the list of allowed IP Addresses. This post will talk about how to configure the firewall for your Azure SQL Database.

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Creating the Azure SQL Database

In this post, I shall talk about the Microsoft Azure SQL Database. There are five service tiers: Basic, Standard, Premium, Web, and Business. Web and Business service tiers (editions) are being retired over the course of 12 months, effective April 24, 2014.

The maximum sizes available are:

Service Tier

Max Sizes available

Web

100MB, 1GB and 5B

Business

10GB, 20GB, 30GB, 40GB, 50GB, 100GB, 150GB

Basic

100MB, 500MB, 1GB, 2GB

Standard

100MB, 500MB, 1GB, 2GB, 5GB, 10GB, 20GB, 30GB, 40GB, 50GB, 100GB, 150GB, 200GB, 250GB

Premium

100MB, 500MB, 1GB, 2GB, 5GB, 10GB, 20GB, 30GB, 40GB, 50GB, 100GB, 150GB, 200GB, 250GB, 300GB, 400GB, 500GB

If you want to try the Preview service tiers, then you need to first enable the preview feature, New Service Tiers for SQL Databases, for your Azure account.

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Say CHEESE Azure Win 8.1 VM

In my last few posts on Azure, I had talked about creating a virtual machine on the Microsoft Azure platform. I configured a Virtual Machine with Windows Enterprise 8.1. Then I configured the VM to use my Microsoft Account. Once my configurations were done, I decided to use this as a base image for my future trysts with Azure. This post is about how I created the image for the Windows 8.1 Enterprise machine that I had setup earlier.

An image is a .vhd file that you can use as a template to create a new virtual machine. An image is a template because it doesn’t have specific settings like a configured virtual machine, such as the computer name and user account settings.

You have two options before you create the image of the Windows 8.1 Enterprise VM.

1. Sysprep the machine using the steps mentioned here

2. Follow the steps mentioned below without performing the sysprep

The “Capture the virtual machine” dialog is available under Virtual Machines –> Instances tab in the Azure Management portal. What you will get is a straightforward looking window with three options to be filled in.

image

Check the box “I have run Sysprep on the virtual machine” only if you have done Step #1 mentioned above. If not, leave it unchecked. Since I had already run a sysprep on the machine, I will use this option.

Clicking on OK registers the image. If the image is created successfully, the virtual machine will be deleted. The image is now ready to be used as a template to create a virtual machine running Windows 8.1. To do this, you’ll create a custom virtual machine by using the From Gallery method and select the image you just created.

In the “Choose an Image” page, you will chose “My Images”. Select the Image which was registered (see Screenshot 2). The image name will be same as the image name provided when you created the image (see Screenshot 1).

image

The rest of the configuration steps are the same as explained in my previous blog post.

Keep in mind that when you create a VM using the wizard with a pre-configured custom image, the VHD gets created with a random alphanumeric name. In my case, I had a VHD named “btquhzrp.xkg201406071118490885”!

References:

Manage Disks and Images

Capturing an Image

Hello HDInsight 3.1

imageMicrosoft Azure now has a Preview version of HDInsight Cluster 3.1. In this blog post, I will walk you through the setup process. When you launch the HDInsight cluster creation Wizard in the Azure Management Portal, you will need to select the Custom Create option (Screenshot 1).

In the New HDInsight Cluster page, you will need to pick the version as 3.1 (preview, HDP 2.1, Hadoop 2.4) which is Hadoop 2.4 with HDInsight cluster version 3.1 using Hortonworks Data Platform 2.1 (see Screenshot 2). Remember to pick the region that you want.

In the next page (Configure Cluster User), you will have to assign a user name and a password which must comply with the following criteria:
an uppercase letter, a lowercase letter, a number, a special character

If you want to enable the “Enter the Hive/Oozie Metastore” option, then you will need at least one SQL database created and configured in the same data center as the HDInsight cluster.

imageThe next task is to configure the storage to host all the nodes. In the Storage Account page, you get to pick from three options:

  • Creating a new Storage Account
  • Using an existing Storage Account
  • Using a Storage Account from an existing subscription
  • imageI chose to create a new Storage Account which allowed me to specify the Storage Account name and the container name.

    Once you are providing the configuration information for your HDInsight Cluster storage, you will be on your way to create your cluster. Azure does it’s magic and voila, after a few minutes of waiting…. you will have your HDInsight cluster staring back at you in the Azure Management Portal. Looking into the configuration, I find that I have 4 data nodes and 2 head nodes (as per the configuration requested).

    Click HDINSIGHT from the left pane. You shall see the cluster created. Click the cluster name where you want to run the Hive job. Click MANAGE CLUSTER from the bottom of the page to open HDInsight cluster dashboard. It opens a Web page on a different browser tab. The URL is <cluster name>.azurehdinsight.net/Home/ where I can login using the user name and password that I created during my configuration. This URL is accessible without the Azure Management Portal as well. In the home page, I get access to:

  • Hive Editor to write and submit hive queries.
  • Job History to view the status of the jobs submitted and look into their details
  • File Browser to get a list of the files available
  • Azure HDInsight clusters are stateless so it is easy to drop and re-create a cluster. When you are not using your cluster, you could drop the cluster to save the cost especially if you are evaluating or in development phase. When you need the cluster again recreate it again.

    If you want remote desktop access to your cluster, then you will need to enable Remote Access to the Azure HDInsight using a user account which does not exist on the nodes. This means that the user provisioned in the earlier section cannot be used. The remote access can be granted to a maximum period of 7 days only!

    When you look into your storage account, you will find a large number of files in the container that you chose to host the cluster files as shown in Screenshot 3.

    Once remote access is configured and you log into the head node, you will find that the machine is a Windows Server 2012R2 node.

    C:\apps\dist\hadoop-2.4.0.2.1.3.0-1728>hadoop version
    Hadoop 2.4.0.2.1.3.0-1728

    The version information available from the command line confirms that I am on 2.4. On the desktop of the head node, I have access to three html files namely,

    • Hadoop Name Node Status
    • Hadoop Service Availability
    • Hadoop Yarn Status

    So that was quick view of what I get in the Preview. In future blogs posts, I shall share new adventures with HDInsight!

    References

    What’s new in the Hadoop cluster versions provided by HDInsight

    HDInsight Pricing Details

    Get started using Hadoop 2.4 in HDInsight

    How to log into an Azure VM using a Microsoft Account

    I recently deployed a Windows 8.1 VM in Microsoft Azure. I now needed to add my Microsoft account as an Administrator to my VM. This seemed like a simple enough task, right! I added the user to the list of users on the VM and then made the user an admin. When I attempt to log into my VM using my @outlook.com (Microsoft) account, I get a logon failed.

    image

    You actually need to make a few changes in the VM to allow remote connections. Go to Settings –> PC Info –> Remote Settings on the VM and uncheckAllow connections only from computers running Remote Desktop with Network Level Authentication (recommended)“. See Screenshot 1.

    image

    imageAfter that connect to the VM from Microsoft Azure Portal again, download and save the RDP file. Edit the RDP file and replace “prompt for credentials:i:1” with “enablecredsspsupport:i:0“. After the change, the RDP file should look like what you see in screenshot 3. Save the RDP file and use that to login into the VM. You will be able to log into the VM and now you can choose the account that you had added above (see Screenshot 4). image

    Once you have logged in, you can checkAllow connections only from computers running Remote Desktop with Network Level Authentication (recommended)” option which you had disabled earlier. Once you do that, you will need to do the exact opposite action. Edit the RDP file and replace “enablecredsspsupport:i:0” with “prompt for credentials:i:1“.

    Once you do the above, you will be able to log into your VM with MicrosoftAccount\email address as user name in the remote desktop dialog.

    Reference:

    http://visualstudio2013msdngalleryimage.azurewebsites.net/windowsclient.htm

    Creating a Client VM on Azure for testing

    I had recently blogged about setting up a SQL Server environment on Microsoft Azure for testing purposes. With the availability of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 images, developers and testers could take advantage of deploying the applications to these Azure VMs for testing without having to create or setup new machines in their environments. Deploying Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 Enterprise clients to Microsoft Azure is now available for MSDN subscribers.

    When you attempt to create a new Virtual Machine, the Wizard will offer you a choice of picking a virtual machine from a Gallery . imageThe gallery has a pre-created set of images which you can use to create your virtual machine and can save you time from additional post-setup configurations. I am looking to create a Windows 8.1 machine which comes in two flavors:

    a. Windows 8.1 Enterprise (x64)

    b. Windows 8.1 Enterprise N (x64)

    I chose Windows 8.1 Enterprise x64.

    In the virtual machine configuration page, I provided the details for the VM like the machine name, user account  as seen in the Screenshot 1. I picked an A1 size configuration (Basic) for the client. This can obviously be extended at will at a later time.

    On the next configuration page, I used an existing cloud service that I had and picked the pre-created storage account for hosting the VHDs. Creating a storage account is not mandatory as the wizard for creating a VM will create a randomly named storage account for you. However, I do not like have entities named with weird alphanumeric sequences which is why I chose to pre-create the storage account.

    In the next configuration screen, I picked the VM Agent (enabled by default) and the Microsoft Antimalware which is in Preview (see Screenshot 2). image

    Now you have a virtual machine created in a few minutes which is ready for testing.

    If you need to install additional software for testing, then install it on the virtual machine by establishing a remote desktop connection to the Azure VM. Once your post-deployment steps are complete, capture an image of the virtual machine. This can be done using the Capture option available in the Azure Management portal by highlighting the VM instance that you want to capture the image of! Once the image is captured, it will be available under the Images tab under Virtual Machines in the Azure Management portal. This however has a caveat! The image is created in the same container where your VM VHD is stored. Subsequent captures of the VM are stored in the same Storage Account. If you do not want this behavior, then you will need to use the Create Image wizard available in the Images tab. This is something that I will show in another blog post.

    image

    Reference

    Deploying Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 Enterprise Clients to Microsoft Azure Available for MSDN Subscribers

    Azure VM Image