Running LiveSide on Azure: Part 1 – setting up a Virtual Machine

010114_0800_RunningLive1 Meta Let’s be honest: we had a few fits and starts setting up LiveSide on Azure (including just today, when having IPv6 enabled on the server apparently caused some DNS problems, sorry about that), but after some trial and error, everything seems to be working well. We’re going to spend a few quick posts recreating what we did right, partly to showcase running a small website on Azure, partly to document our procedures in case we need to recreate them, and partly because we need a beta site so we stop trying to make fixes on the fly!

What we’re going to do is create a Virtual Machine, install IIS, and then PHP, MySQL, and WordPress, and create a website and an FTP site. We’ll add in a couple of useful tools along the way, and hopefully save you a bit of pain (now, learning how to set up Azure the first time wasn’t THAT hard, it’s just that some of the smallest mistakes end up taking the longest time to figure out).

Right now, we’re running the cheapest Windows VM available on Azure, which should end up costing us about $66 US a month, unless this turns out to be the most popular blog post ever, and we have to crank it up a notch. You can get into a Linux machine for a bit cheaper, and if you’re just looking to run WordPress, that may be a route to take. Azure also offers a readymade WordPress website, but you would need to create a separate MySQL account for your database from ClearDB, and you’d end up paying significantly more for just a website, without the added benefits of a server to go along with it.

We happen to be comfortable in Windows, so that’s what we’ll use here. For this demo, we’re going to use an MSDN account (from our MVP award), which provides $100/mo credit, but if you’re going to set up a server for continued use, you’ll need to look into the costs.

OK, first you’ll need to go to WindowsAzure.com and set up an account (you can get a month free by doing so, enough to let you play around a bit). We’ll assume you have an Azure account and are logged in to the Portal.

Next, we’re going to create a Virtual Machine. In our case, we’re going to create a Windows Server 2012 R2 machine. From the Portal, click on Virtual Machines on the left, and then Create a Virtual Machine:

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Next, choose your server:

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… and click through the next 3 pages and set things up (it’s pretty easy, and the defaults are what we want for a new clean VM):

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Don’t forget to take note of your username and password!

On the 4th page, where you set up endpoints, you’ll want to set up HTTP, at least, and probably FTP, too. You can change this later through the portal, but you need to open up these ports from within the Azure Portal: just opening ports on the server itself won’t do, the first of many lessons we learned the hard way.

Once the server has been set up (check the little green indicator bar in the lower right corner of the Portal, it will stop moving when it’s ready), you can log in via Remote Desktop Connection, or RDP.

Click on the “Connect” tab along the bottom of the Portal, and click through the prompts to get to the login screen. Windows will assume you want to log in with your current credentials…. You don’t!

Instead, log in with the name / password combination you created on Page 2, above. Note that Azure creates an open port for RDP to log into, you’ll need that port number if you want to log in via RDP on another computer. You can always log in to Azure and connect from the portal, too.

It will take a minute or two for the server to do a first time setup for your user, but give it a minute, and soon you’ll be looking at Windows Server 2012 R2!

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OK, so we’ve got a ways to go, but already we’ve got a server up and running in the cloud. So far so good.