This is the third post for the mini-series entitled “Hosting SQL Server in Window Azure IaaS Fundamentals”. In this post I will teach you about capturing an Azure VM Image with SQL Server. This is a very powerful option for creating an image from a SQL Server Azure IaaS VM via the process known as “capturing”.  The reason you want to capture an existing VM image from Azure running SQL Server is simplicity as well as the fact that you want to create multiple VMs running SQL Server.  Remember that we previously discussed the difference between an Azure image and disk and the use cases for both. This is one of those use cases where you want to use Azure to create an image, then capture it to use it to create other VMs running SQL Server. The capture process uses an existing Azure VM running SQL Server to create a VM image. This allows us to then create many SQL Server VMs from that image as we want.

Just want to introduce the PowerShell commands to stop the VM then to Capture the VM. Will not spend a lot of time on the parameters for this as you can find them all documented online. But you will stop the VM using Stop-AzureVM then save it as an image.

Create Azure VM and Capture as an Image

Here’s the steps we will go through to create a SQL Server VM then capture it as an image.

  1. BP Create Affinity group (for this and rest of demos). Affinity group provides a high degree of co-location within a data center to avoid randomized placement of resources. Tries to do same cluster and even same rack if possible.
  2. BP Create storage account
  3. Create existing Azure VM running SQL Server
  4. Log into VM and run sysprep. If you don’t do this the portal will not allow you to create image.
  5. Once it completes try to RDP in again – you cant
  6. Shutdown the image (enabled capture)
  7. “Capture“ the image (deletes the VM).  If I try to capture without checking sysprep box it will not allow me to do this.
  8. The VM from which this image is captured is no longer viable to run as a VM once it is captured. In fact, once the VM is captured it will be deleted from the Virtual Machines section and moved under Azure images.
    1. Show VHD is now gone as well as is VM
    2. Show the image VHD under Images VM tab

Capture VM Image from Azure VM

Once the image is captured the image appears in the VM Image Gallery. From there you can then create new SQL Server VMs from it as many as you want.

Continuing our introduction of PowerShell commands here we want to create the VM from the image. Just want to make you aware of the New-AzureQuickVM command and its many parameters which you would use here.

  1. Using VM Gallery to create a new Azure VM from captured image>
  • Realize that regardless of the VM size of the captured VM you can create any size VM you want from that image up to and including Extra Large. Note you can’t create a VM from an image or a disk with a size above that. So if the VM you captured was a size Large, you can create a VM of size small, a VM of size Medium, etc.  But you cannot create a A6 (4 cores , 28 GB) or A7 (8 cores, 56 GB).

We are not going to connect to SQL Server Mgmt Studio in this lesson as we have a more appropriate place in a later lesson.
A small but occasionally important difference between creating a VM from an image that is not a stock Azure Gallery image (uploaded sysprepd / captured VM) and one that is a stock image is that you CANNOT specify the storage account with which the new VM will be associated. By default you create the new VM in the storage account

Summary

In this module I discussed how to use an existing Azure VM instance to create an image, then taking that image and creating one or more VMs from that. We also mentioned about how you attach disks to the VM but did not show it as we will show it in a more applicable demo. But I wanted to introduce that concept at this point in time so you will be familiar with the process when we encounter it.

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