Skip to main content
Mitch Irsfeld

TechNet Flash, Volume 13, Issue 9 - May 4, 2011
TechNet Flash Editor's Note from Mitch Irsfeld

The Role of the Windows Azure VM Role

The Windows Azure Virtual Machine (VM) Role allows you to run a customized instance of Windows Server 2008 R2 in Windows Azure, making it easier to move applications to the cloud. In his TechNet Magazine article Take Your Virtual Machines to the Cloud, Joshua Hoffman explains that the VM role lets you build virtual machines for Windows Azure to leverage the scalable infrastructure and cost savings that come with cloud computing.

As explained in Windows Azure VM Role: Looking at it a different way, the VM role is a PaaS application that runs on Windows Azure, subject to the service model and all the other benefits and constraints, just like the Web and Worker Roles. The fact that it spins up a VM to house the application doesn't change the fact that it is still a Windows Azure application.

Next you should understand why you would want to use the VM role to configure the operating system for a virtual machine, and how to create a hosted service for Windows Azure. A VM role is the same as the other Windows Azure roles in needing the service definition and service configuration files to be hosted as a service in Windows Azure. To begin, get a quick Overview of Creating a Hosted Service for Windows Azure.

Getting Started

In Take Your Virtual Machines to the Cloud, Hoffman walks through the steps of building your VMs for Windows Azure. Here are some key things to understand:

An image of the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system is needed for a VM role in Windows Azure. To see what is involved in creating that VHD image, read Getting Started with Developing a Server Image for a VM Role. To create instances of a VM role, you must deploy a service model package to Windows Azure. Check out the TechNet Library article How to Create and Deploy the VM Role Service Model for details on deploying a service model package to Windows Azure, including How to Create the Base VHD for a VM Role in Windows Azure, upload a VHD to Windows Azure and define the service model files.

Since Windows Azure Integration Components are required in a VM role that is hosted as a service in Windows Azure, you'll also need to learn How to Install the Windows Azure Integration Components. The Windows Azure Integration Components install the service runtime APIs to the image, so that the VM role instance may gather dynamic information from the Windows Azure environment.

When you are ready to deploy your VM role(s), check out Avkash Chauhan's Expert Tips on VM Role Deployment with Windows Azure SDK 1.4.

Last but not least, get some hands-on time with the Windows Azure VM role. You can now sign up for the Windows Azure VM role and Extra Small Instance beta via the Windows Azure Platform Management Portal.

Thanks for reading,

Mitch Irsfeld
Editor, TechNet Flash

Subscribe to the TechNet Flash Feed blog for news updates as they happen, often several times a day.