Updated: December 12, 2013
Windows Azure Virtual Machines provides on-demand, scalable computing resources. A virtual machine in Windows Azure is a server in the cloud that you configure and maintain according to your needs. It also gives you the flexibility of virtualization without having to buy or maintain the hardware to host it.
With a virtual machine in Windows Azure, you can:
Deploy available versions of Windows Server or distributions of Linux operating systems by choosing from preconfigured images. Or, you can upload a virtual hard disk (VHD) that contains a server operating system and then use it to create virtual machines.
Create and connect multiple virtual machines so you can load balance traffic among them.
Use both automated and manual ways to create, manage, and delete a virtual machine. You can use the web portal (Windows Azure Management Portal), cmdlets for Windows PowerShell, or the Service Management APIs.
Delete and recreate it whenever you need to, like you can with any other virtual machine.
This topic provides a quick overview of creating and interacting with a virtual machine. If you’d prefer to learn about virtual machines by experimenting with them, you can also go directly to the tutorials and guides available on WindowsAzure.com.
Creating a virtual machine
When you create a virtual machine, choices you’ll need to make include the following:
The size of the virtual machine. This determines configuration such as the number of CPU cores, amount of memory, and storage capacity. For details, see Virtual Machine and Cloud Service Sizes for Windows Azure.
The operating system. You can choose from stock images, some of which include SQL Server or Sharepoint. Or, if you’ve uploaded your own VHD, you can use that as a custom image for the virtual machine.
The networking configuration. If you want a virtual machine to use a virtual network, you’ll need to specify the virtual network when you create the virtual machine. For more information, see the Virtual Network.
The cloud service configuration. Each virtual machine resides in a cloud service, either by itself or with other virtual machines. When you place virtual machines in the same cloud service, you can load balance your applications and services by configuring load-balanced endpoints. For instructions, see Load Balancing Virtual Machines
Interacting with a virtual machine
The ways of communicating with or interacting with a virtual machine and what’s required to allow the interaction are summarized below.
Communication from outside the same cloud service or virtual network
All virtual machines that are in the same cloud service or virtual network can automatically communicate with each other using a private network channel. However, to communicate with other resources on the Internet or other virtual networks, a virtual machine uses endpoints. These endpoints handle the inbound network traffic to the virtual machine. For more information about setting up endpoints for a virtual machine, see How to Set Up Communication with a Virtual Machine.
Logging on to a virtual machine
The way you log on to a virtual machine depends on whether it’s running Windows Server or Linux. For an overview of requirements and troubleshooting tips, see Connect to a Windows Azure virtual machine with RDP or SSH.
For a virtual machine that is running Windows Server, you can use Remote Desktop. In the Management Portal, click the Connect button to start a Remote Desktop Connection. For more information about logging on to a computer running Windows Server, see How to Log on to a Virtual Machine Running Windows Server.
For a virtual machine that is running the Linux operating system, you use a Secure Shell (SSH) client to logon. You’ll need to install an SSH client on your computer that you want to use to log on to the virtual machine. There are many SSH client programs available. The following are possible choices:
If you are using a computer that is running a Windows operating system, you can use Remote Desktop. For instructions, see the PuTTY Download Page.
If you are using a computer that is running a Linux operating system, you might want to use an SSH client such as OpenSSH. For more information, see OpenSSH. For instructions on logging on to a computer running Linux, see How to Log on to a Virtual Machine Running Linux
Using Windows PowerShell Remoting
Windows PowerShell Remoting lets you connect remotely to one or more computers from a Windows PowerShell session to run commands directly on the remote computers. You can configure your virtual machine to allow Windows PowerShell Remoting when you create it, or at a later point. You configure the virtual machine by adding an endpoint that specifies the port and protocol to use. For instructions about adding an endpoint, see How to Set Up Endpoints to a Virtual Machine. For more information about remoting, see about_Remote_FAQ.