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 . The 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.
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.