Create and Manage Azure VM Images for Efficient Cloud Infrastructure

Azure

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In this blog post, we will delve into virtual machine images in Azure and how they can be used to streamline and automate the management of your virtual machines (VMs). We will explore what an image is and why it is essential, as well as how to create and utilize images in Azure. Additionally, we will also explore how to achieve this with VMs created on other hypervisors such as Hyper-V or VMware.

What is an Image?

An image in cloud-based technology and virtualization is essentially a “template” or a “blueprint” for a virtual machine (VM). It serves as a pre-configured setup or template that includes everything required to create a replica of a VM that can be used to create new virtual machines with the same configurations.

An image includes elements such as the operating system, all installed programs, settings, and configurations.

Why use images for VMs?

The use of Images allows you to easily and efficiently scale up your infrastructure by rapidly creating new VM instances with the same configuration as previously configured VMs, saving time and ensuring consistency in your environment. This is a crucial feature for automating and streamlining the management of virtual machines in cloud and virtualized environments.

Prerequesities​

Here are the key preparations for creating an Azure VM image:

  1. Azure Subscription: First and foremost, you must have an active Azure subscription. This provides you access to the Azure portal and all the necessary resources for creating and managing VM images.
  2. Storage Account: You need an Azure Storage Account. This will be the location where your VM images will be stored. It’s important to have sufficient storage capacity and the correct configuration for your use case.
  3. VM to use as a template: You must have a virtual machine (VM) that you want to use as a template for your image. This VM should have the operating system and all desired software installed and configured according to your requirements. It’s important that the VM is in the correct state before creating an image from it.
  4. Sysprep and Generalize: As mentioned in your previous message, you must run Sysprep on the VM. Sysprep is a tool used to remove all unique identifiers and prepare the VM to be a template. When using Sysprep, select ‘Enter System Out-of-Box Experience (OOBE)’ for System Cleanup Action, check the ‘Generalize’ option, and choose ‘Shutdown’ for Shutdown Options. This will generalize the VM and shut it down.

Once you have these preparations in place, you can use the Azure portal to create an image from your VM. You can then use the created image to quickly deploy new VM instances with the same configuration as your original VM. This is a powerful feature that allows you to efficiently manage and scale up your infrastructure in Azure.

How to proceed in Azure

In Azure, it’s relatively straightforward to create an image from an existing virtual machine (VM) and prepare it for use. Here are the steps you can follow to do that:

  1. Go to Azure Portal: Log in to your Azure subscription and navigate to the Azure Portall (https://portal.azure.com).
  2. Select your VM: Go to the ‘Virtual machines’ section and choose the virtual machine (VM) from which you want to create an image.
  3. Initiate the capture process: In the overview panel of your VM, click on ‘Capture’ in the toolbar at the top. This initiates the capture process.
  4. Provide Information: You will be prompted to enter specific information about the image you’re creating. This includes:
    • Image Name: Enter a suitable name for your image
    • Resource Group: Choose the resource group where you want to store your image.
    • Tags: You can add tags if desired to organize and search for your recources.
    Fill in this information according to your needs.
  5. Initiate the capture-process: After you have filled in the necessary information, click on ‘OK’ or ‘Capture’ to initiate the image capture process. Azure will now start creating your image from the virtual machine.
  6. Complete the capture process: The capture process takes some time to finish, and you will be able to track its status in the Azure Portal. Once the process is complete, your image will be ready for use.
  7. Manage your Managed Images: The created images will be located in the ‘Images’ section of the Azure Portal. Here, you can manage your managed images and use them to create new virtual machines with the same configuration.

With these steps, you can easily create and manage Azure images from existing VM instances. These images can then be used to quickly deploy and scale up new VM instances with the same configuration as the original VM, streamlining the management of your infrastructure in Azure.

How to do it with Hyper-V or other hypervisors

  1. Export VM to Virtual Hard Drive (VHD):
    • Hyper-V: If you are using Hyper-V, export your VM to a VHD file. To do this, right-click on the VM in Hyper-V Manager and select ‘Export.’ Follow the wizard to export the VM to a VHD file.
    • VMware: If you are using VMware, use VMware Converter or another suitable method to convert the VM to a VHD file.
  2. Convert from VHDX to VHD (if necessary):
    • If your VM is in VHDX format and you need to convert it to VHD format for use in Azure, you can use Hyper-V Manager or PowerShell. Here’s a PowerShell example:
    Convert-VHD -Path “C:\path\to\exported.vhdx” -DestinationPath “C:\path\to\exported.vhd” -VHDType Fixed
  3. Upload the VHD file to Azure Blob Storage:
    • Log in to your Azure subscription and go to the Azure Portal.
    • Navigate to your Azure Blob Storage account and create a new container where you want to store the VHD file.
    • Use tools like AzCopy or Azure Storage Explorer to upload the VHD file to the created container.
  4. Create a Managed Image from VHD in Azure::
    • Go to the Azure Portal.
    • Navigate to”Images”.
    • Click on ‘Add’ to create a new image.
    • Provide the necessary information, including name, region, and the URL of the uploaded VHD file in your Azure Blob Storage
    • Complete the creation process for your Managed Image.

Now you have successfully created a Managed Image from your VHD file originally created on a different hypervisor. This Azure image can now be used to create new virtual machines with the same configuration as your original VM, regardless of the hypervisor you used previously. This enables you to migrate and use existing VMs in the Azure environment.

Summary

By using VM images, you can achieve higher efficiency, consistency, and security in your cloud-based infrastructure. Whether you create VM images in Azure or migrate existing VMs from other hypervisors, the benefits are clear. Having ready-made images at your disposal enables you to quickly and easily scale your infrastructure and automate the management of virtual machines. It saves time and resources while ensuring your environment is consistent and secure.

Azure


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