Blogging On Virtual Machines

Hello, everyone!

We are launching a special category of the Azure blog to focus specifically on Virtual Machine content, coming directly from the engineering team in Azure.

I have the distinct honor to kick off this blog on the heels of the //build conference last week, where we announced an amazing new portal, our deep integration with open and community-driven solutions like Puppet and Chef and more, discussed in more detail here. With the crazy momentum we have seen since Infrastructure Services (IaaS) became GA last year, it has become absolutely necessary to start a blogging category about Virtual Machines, which forms an integral part of the Azure IaaS platform.

Why a special blog?

The entire compute team here in Azure is eager to share as much information on Virtual Machines as we can, to get feedback and deliver improvements faster. Therefore, we will be launching a new category to the Microsoft Azure blog focusing on Virtual Machines, where we will talk about specific features and good usage cases while also spending some time discussing the future strategy for our product. The next few blog posts here will be the kick-off until we move to our new home.

It should give you, your partners and your customers insight into what we are thinking and building. Also, it will give an opportunity for you to talk back to us, either with excitement or frustration.

As a great example, one of the early pieces we will publish covers some of the usage cases of the new VM agent. What a cool piece of technology this is! This agent contains the same bits that we have battled-tested and improved upon over the last 5 years with the Cloud Services (PaaS) Worker Role. In fact, this is also the basis for many of the current internal and external services available on Azure, including the amazing TitanFall.

On Virtual Machines, the VM agent remains quiet and passive when not in use, but when you initiate it, it dramatically increases the power of the Virtual Machine by creating a secure and trusted springboard for other technologies, called extensions. These extensions, like PowerShell, Puppet, Visual Studio and Chef, aren’t stagnant in a machine image. They offer additive value by being inserted into a running VM and can be updated over the lifecycle of the VM. Even with some of the simplest capabilities, like being able to reset your username/password via PowerShell (I have some sample PowerShell below), this new VM agent brings PaaS-like power onto the IaaS Virtual Machine, on your terms and at your pace, like no other cloud provider in the world!

 

What about customers and partners?

I sure ask myself some really good questions. In this blog category, you will see posts from folks all over the Microsoft Azure team, in their own words and in their own voice, typically coming from those folks who are building the technology. We will also include posts from those folks using the technology, including partners who have built solutions on Microsoft Azure. Finally, we will spend some time referencing great customer stories, like the latest great case study from BlinkBox. Make sure to watch the video. I’ll wait right here until you are done watching…

Anything else?

I am really looking forward to sharing all this content with you. This witty post is just the beginning, although it may be the end for my career.

Oh, I did mention above the ability to reset your password for a running VM. I wanted to make sure to include that PowerShell here, so you can play around. We call this the “VM Access” extension and we will describe this in more detail in our next post.

Finally, in addition to these posts, we already have a good amount of content about Virtual Machines. Please take a look and play around a bit. You will surely enjoy it.

See ya around,

Corey