Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Upgrading an Azure virtual machine

One of the real benefits of using virtualization is the fact that upgrading is generally much easier than with physical machines. a case in point.

In a previous post, I mentioned how Azure now makes available machines that use solid state drives (SSDs). This allows disk access to be much faster, therefore improving the overall performance of the machine.

These new SSD virtual machines are of course more expensive but for the demo and testing purposes I need them for, it makes sense. Now, if I had to perform this type of upgrade on a physical machine it would generally mean buying a new machine and doing a complete rebuild, which as you can appreciate is very time consuming.

Even if I had these machines virtualized on a host machine I ran myself it would mean buying and configuring a new host machine and copying the virtual machine images onto this. That would also take a long time given that virtual machine images can be gigabytes and gigabytes in size.

However, with Azure upgrading my virtual machines to take advantage of the latest features is a breeze. Here’s how.

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I firstly login to the Azure management portal at:

http://manage.windowsazure.com

I then locate the Virtual Machines menu option on the left and select it. I then locate the virtual machine I wish to upgrade and select it.

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I then select the Configure menu option across the top, which shows me the screen above.

In there you can see that current Virtual Machine Size is A3 (4 cores, 7GB or RAM).

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What I do is simply pull this option down and select a new machine that is utilizing SSDs, in this case D2 (2 cores, 7GB memory).

I then select the Save option at the bottom of the screen to update the changes for my machine.

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Now if the virtual machine you are upgrading is running you are prompted that it may need to be rebooted to apply the changes. In most cases you want to make these changes with the machine off, which it is in this case, so press OK to apply the changes.

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Azure now hums away updating the machine.

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and a few moments later it is all done and my machine is now running with SSDs.

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You can then return to the main Virtual Machine Console, select the machine and then the Start button at the bottom.

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You machine will start spinning up and you can then use it without having to install any software or do further upgrades.

How easy was that? This is the way all hardware upgrades should be and the reason why you should be using virtualization and even more so why you should be using a service like Azure. It removes all the pain from the things that keep you from doing what you want to do when it comes to technology.