Azure

Using a custom domain name for an Azure Website

The migration of TechKB.onl to Azure was a relatively easy process. The first part involved creating a new WordPress website from a template in Azure and import the contents from the original blog site. The most complex part was assigning a custom domain name to the website.

By default the Azure website is created as a subdomain to .azurewebsites.net so in the case of this blog techkb.azurewebsites.net. This isn’t ideal in the real world, so as you would expect, it is possible to assign a custom domain name .

The general steps involved in the process are:

  1. Purchase your domain name from your preferred supplier
  2. Setup DNS records that map your domain to your Azure website
  3. Add the custom domain name to your website from the Azure Portal.

I wont be going into depth about purchasing your custom domain name as part of this post, but there are many Domain name registration sites out the such as 123-reg and godaddy and the process around choosing and purchasing one is pretty much generic across the board.

After acquiring your chosen domain name, the next step is to setup a couple of DNS records which will require knowing the virtual IP address of the Azure website. To find this open the Azure Portal, browse to the Websites tab, select your website then click on Dashboard. You should then have the option to click on Manage Domains on the bottom menu bar.

NOTE: If this option is disabled, make sure you are using Shared, Basic, or Standard mode. For more information, see How to scale websites.

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Clicking on the Manage Domains button opens a popup window which should have the virtual IP that is assigned to the website located at the bottom.

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Once a note of the virtual IP address has been made, two DNS records are required to get things working. Log in to your domain registrar and use their tool to add an A record and CNAME record. In many registrar tools, you will just type the subdomain portion of your domain, not the entire domain name.

Also, many tools use ‘@’ to mean the root domain.

For example:

When creating an A record, Azure also requires a CNAME record, which is used to validate the website and verify that you own the domain name you are attempting to use. This CNAME record must have the following form:

Azure

Renaming your Microsoft Azure Subscription

If you’re like me, since creating your Azure subscription the usage for it has changed and the name you originally gave the subscription does not best describe it.

Here is a quick post on how to rename your Azure subscription.

As with most things Microsoft, there are a number of ways of navigating around and accomplishing the same thing, here is one of them. From within your Azure management portal, click on Subscriptions on the top bar, this will drop down a menu from which you can select Manage your account. You will be required to input your username and password but this will then take you to Azure usage and billing.

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Once inside Azure usage and billing, click on the subscription you wish to rename. In this example MDCAD MSDN. This will open the main summary page which will display the billing overview and breakdown for the chosen subscription.

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On the right side of the Summary page you will see a small menu, (Image below) from here select Edit subscription details.

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In the EDIT YOUR SUBSCRIPTION window, change the Subscription name to what is now required, then click on the tick to complete your changes.

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Once all the changes have been made, your renamed subscription will be reflected in the usage and billing portal.

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Back inside your Azure portal, the subscription name change will also be reflected.

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Azure

Adding Microsoft Azure Backup to DPM 2012 R2

With the recent update to the Long Term Retention Periods for Azure backups and the features planned for the new year, I have recently begun talking to more clients about the integration of DPM with Azure Backup. The Backup Vault is a great feature of Azure that can take place of those boxes of tapes that require archiving offsite every week and speed up the recovery time of end user data.

The following article gives a quick overview of how easy it is to register and link a DPM 2012 R2 server with an Azure Backup Vault.

The first step to the process is to log into Azure, select Recovery Services then click the + NEW button to create a Backup Vault.

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Once the Backup Vault has been created, clicking on the vault to open it to make available the options to download the two required files. The first file being the Azure Backup Agent which will need installing on the relevant DPM server and the second file which is the validation file, this will be required when registering the DPM server with the Azure Backup Vault.

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Once the Backup Vault has been created and both the DPM agent and Validation file have been downloaded to your DMP server. The next step is to install the agent. During the installation process it is possible to change the installation path and the cache location. The cache location is used to keep track of the files that have been archived to Azure and require disk space equivalent to at least 5% of the planned backed up data.

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Once the agent is installed, the next stage of the process starts from within DPM. Open the DPM console and browse to the Management view, then click on the Online option in the left hand window. clicking on the Online option will change the ribbons view exposing the options required for the next step.

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From the ribbon select the Register option, this will open the Register Server Wizard.

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The first page of the wizard is used to setup any proxy that is required for the server to make a connection to the internet. Either fill in the necessary proxy details in or leave blank if no proxy is required and click next.

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The second page of the wizard is used to import the validation file that was downloaded during the creation of the Backup Vault within Azure. This is used to validate the DPM server against the Azure tenancy and the Backup Vault. Using the validation file negates the need for uploading expensive certificates.

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The next page offers the ability to setup different bandwidth throttling for work and none work hours.

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The following page makes it possible to configure the location of the staging location. The staging folder is a location that is used by the Agent when recovering data from Azure and as such should have enough disk space to house the volume of data expected to be restored in the largest restore envisaged.

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For security the next step of the install asks for a passphrase to be configured. This can be one that is predefined or its possible to allow the agent to generate a phrase for you.

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Clicking the Register button completes the process.

It is now possible to edit protection groups and add backup copies to Azure.

Azure

Add Azure AD and assign a Custom Domain Name

When creating an Azure directory, the default domain ends with the .onmicrosoft.com prefix. This is obviously not always the preferred naming convention, it is therefore possible to purchase the required domain and assign it to your Azure AD.

To begin, scroll down the left hand menu and select Active Directory.

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Once Active Directory has been selected, the next step is to click on + NEW and select Directory then Custom Create.

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Fill in the name of the directory you wish to create and the country or region you wish the directory to be located in, then click the tick to continue.

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Once the directory has been created, click on the directory to open up the dashboard panel to configure the next options.

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Click on the Domains menu at the top of the dashboard window.

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Once on the Domains window, you will see the default domain name which has been created with the .onmicrosoft.com extension. To assign a custom domain, click Add a Custom Domain which will open the Add Domain wizard.

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In the next window, add the name of the custom domain that has been purchased. If it is required, check the I plan to configure this domain for single sign-on with my local Active Directory and then click add.

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Once the domain has ben successfully added, click on the arrow to continue to the next page.

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The next windows requires the domain to be verified. This is achieved by adding a TXT record to the DNS of the purchased domain, Azure will verify the domain name against this TXT record.

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When successfully verified, click the tick button to close the Add Domain wizard.

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Now both domain names can be viewed, the original techkb.on.microsoft.com domain and the custom domain of TechKB.onl. Select the custom domain name and then click the Change Primary button on the bottom Azure menu.

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On the Change primary domain wizard, check the current primary domain and the new primary domain are correctly selected. If the settings are correct, click on the tick button and the primary domain is switched to the custom domain.

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Once the changes have been made, it is possible to view in the domains window, that the primary domain has been changed to the custom domain.

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It’s as easy as that!

Azure

Transform The Datacentre Workshop, Supported by Microsoft

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I have recently been invited to present at a number of events. The first event, Transforming the Datacentre Workshop, Supported by Microsoft, covered Microsoft’s Cloud OS approach to deliver a consistent and comprehensive set of capabilities via Windows Server, Hyper-V, System Center and Microsoft Azure, across on premise and cloud based platform.

Included in the event is a discussion around Windows Server 2003 reaching end-of-support on July 14th 2015, what options are available and how best to approach the problem.

It has been great to see the numbers of people turn up and very interesting to hear how they are adopting the Hybrid Cloud and plan to deal with the challenges around Windows Server 2003 reaching end-of-support.

cardiff-1st-october-2014-02If you fancy joining us at one of the multiple locations we are running the event at, you can book in by following the link below.

Azure

What is this temporary storage attached to my Microsoft Azure VM?

I follow the Microsoft Azure article How to Attach a Data Disk to a Windows Virtual Machine and I am told not to use D:\ as a drive label because it already exists. Why is this?

Virtual machines created in Windows Azure are created with temporary storage assigned automatically.

Depending on the OS this can appear as:

  • Windows Virtual Machine “D:\”
  • Linux Virtual Machine “/dev/sdb1/”

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Essentially, the temporary storage is used for the paging file of the running VM. Using local storage on the physical host helps to increase IOPS and lower latency when compared to standard Azure storage.

It is obviously possible to store data on this drive BUT  do not use it to store data that you are not willing to lose! The reason for this is, the temporary storage is created on the physical machine that is hosting your virtual machine. Should your virtual machine move to a different host due to hardware hardware failure or local host updating, the OS disk will be recreated from your storage account. However the temporary storage will be reallocated on the new physical host and any data will not be migrated from the original host. Other causes for the temporary storage to be recreated include when you resize your VM or when your VM is shutdown and restarted.

The size of the temporary storage changes between virtual machines but an up to date size can be found on this Microsoft Azure article Virtual Machine and Cloud Service Sizes for Azure

This image is from the Microsoft Azure Support Team Blog, but shows this process.