To get started with the configuration, you’ll want to create a virtual network to tie all your Azure services together if you choose to build out a replicated environment or a separate SQL server. Enter a desired network and affinity group name.
You can read additional details on creating a virtual network here regarding what is required for the address space and subnet information.
Affinity groups are the way to group the services in your Windows Azure subscription that need to work together in order to achieve optimal performance. When you create an affinity group, it lets Windows Azure know to keep all of the services that belong to your affinity group running at the same data center cluster. For example, if you want to keep the services running your data and your code together, you would specify the same affinity group for those services. That way, when you deploy those services, Windows Azure will locate them in a data center as close to each other as possible. This reduces latency and increases performance, while potentially lowering costs.
Now you’ll need to create a new Virtual Machine from the Gallery. Select a Windows 2008 R2 type server and then enter a server name of your choice. Ex: “XYZcompanyVault”.
The size is your choice, but pick something to get started with and you can always grow later.
Create a system password and note the username of ‘Administrator’.
Continue to the next step where you will choose a DNS name and select the virtual network to attach to that you have already created.
Setup of your virtual machine will take a few minutes to complete.
Now you can connect to your server using your local remote desktop connection tools in Windows. Just check the server settings from the quick glance menu. It will show the IP address needed to connect. This is good to see for yourself that you now have a Windows 2008 server available in just a few minutes time that you can use for just about anything you choose. No waiting on shipping or wire plugging in required.
You now need to create some storage space for your server to utilize for the Vault filestore. Select your virtual machine from the Azure portal and attach an empty disk. Pick a name for the disk and default size. 5GB may be adequate to start with a fresh Vault.
Your new empty disk will be ready to configure on your server. Go back to the remote desktop connection and follow the steps listed here under the section called “How to: Initialize a new data disk in Windows Server 2008 R2”. You are basically giving your new volume a name and formatting it for use on your server in this step.
So now you have a virtual server setup with a dedicated data disk. You’ll next need to copy the Vault installation media to the server. To do this, use the connect link located at the bottom of your Azure virtual machine portal to download the connection file. Right click the file you just downloaded and find the “Local Resources” tab. Click the more button and select “Drives” to be able to use your local drives from the remote server.
I’ll be skipping the whole step (for now) of creating a dedicated SQL server and database since Azure currently has SQL Server 2012 available which is unsupported by Vault 2013. You do have the option of setting up a separate virtual machine running an older, supported version of SQL but we won’t get into that complexity within this initial blog post.
Next, connect to the remote server using the remote desktop connection, browse the available drives to copy the installation media from your local computer to the remote server. It took me a few hours to copy the 2GB ADMS installer. Unpack the files and run Vault setup now. The installer should start up and begin with the .NET installation required to continue.
Follow most of the standard prompts to install Vault ADMS server from this point forward. You can customize your configuration as you wish based on how simple or complex you choose to deploy Vault.[important]Follow the ADMS system check for any required setting changes that need to occur on the server before installation can continue, such as disabling the Windows UAC.[/important]
The configuration possibilities and scenarios for using Azure are fairly limitless. Here are a few configurations you may want to consider:
- Keep your existing Vault servers as you have them today residing within the walls of your business but create an Azure vault to replicate your data to. This will act as a backup for local server issues, maintenance and always synchronized offsite backup.
- Keep your existing Vault servers and use Azure as your QA, testing environment for upgrades and workflow changes.
- Eliminate your existing servers and move fully to Azure. This will reduce server costs, power consumption and general overhead costs of maintaining a server locally. Moving your entire local server infrastructure further expands on this concept. Yes, you’ll still need IT support, but they will be able to focus more on advanced needs and not hardware maintenance.
I would be interested in hearing from my readers as to who might be already using Azure or have plans to move to a cloud based server solution such as Azure. In future posts I’ll be refining the details of how to move Vault to the cloud within your organization.