An Azure Virtual Machine is a simulated computer (also known as a guest) hosted within a physical computer (also known as the host). Virtual machines have been around for decades but the technical capabilities have advanced greatly over recent years and they are now a significant commodity in hosted infrastructures. A virtual machine behaves like an actual physical computer but it shares the physical pool of resources, the memory, buses, processing power and storage, with other virtualised infrastructure. The end user can connect to their virtual machine and it will have the same look and feel as if it was a physical computer. The host computer runs a very specialised, reduced operating system (called the hypervisor) which takes care of the security, sharing and scheduling of all the guest operating systems on top of it.
The Azure Virtual Machine allows IT architects to create a network that will build success for the business. It means that the organization can easily set up temporary and therefore cost-effective environments for development and testing or they can transfer business-critical applications from on-premises servers to more advanced, reliable and economic hardware. It allows organizations to try new ventures in a safe way; trying out new operating systems such as Linux or open-source application software. It allows businesses to stretch and flex in a ‘fail fast’ way; if the business project or need is no longer relevant, then it can be switched off or even deleted without leaving redundant hardware.
Azure Virtual Machines are created through the Azure portal, which can be found at https://portal.azure.com or through programming interfaces such as PowerShell. The simplest way to create an Azure Virtual Machine is using the portal; a browser-based user interface for interacting with Azure. It’s a straightforward process to create and configure Azure Virtual Machines and there’s even a Quick Start so that your Virtual Machine is up and running within minutes.
The difference between an Azure Virtual Machine and an on-premises Virtual Machine is that, in Azure, the IT architect does not control the host machine or its operating system. All of the configuration is done through the cloud operating system, whether through the browser or the portal. In this example, we will create a new SQL Server Virtual Machine in Azure, using an image from the Azure gallery.
- Log in to the Azure portal at https://portal.azure.com using your Azure subscription account.
- On the Azure portal, click New.
- The portal opens the New window. Select the Compute option and then select the option See all.
- In the search field, type SQL Server 2017, and press ENTER.
- To see the relevant options, click the Filter icon, and select the image for Windows SQL Server, which will be published by Microsoft.
- Select the image named SQL Server 2017 Developer on Windows Server 2016.
- Under Select a deployment model, ensure that Resource Manager is selected.
- Click Create.
- There will be a number of options for configuring the Virtual Machine, such as its size, location, and security information. Once you have selected the relevant options, select Deploy. The Virtual Machine will take a few moments to deploy.
Once the deployment has completed, you can connect to the VM remotely using Remote Desktop Connection on your PC or in the case of our SQL Server installation, through the SQL enterprise tools.