Windows Azure TechEd Challenge – Monday Cheats!

For Microsoft’s TechEd North American event, we’re running at promotion at the booth. This promotion asks you to walk through a series of “tasks” and once the tasks have been validated by one of our booth staff members, you’re eligible to win a prize. Now we’ve had some great interest in this, but sadly many folks are still somewhat… intimidated by all the options that exist in the platform.

Now maybe I’m just an enabler, but I don’t like denying folks goodies. So to that end, I’m going to be producing a series of blog posts that will actually walk through these tasks in clear (and hopefully easily repeatable steps) for even the newest Windows Azure explorers.

As the first post in this series, I’m going to cover the first three tasks for both Developers and IT Pros. As a self-proclaimed “code money”, I’m going to let the developers go first.

Developer Challenge 1 – Active your MSDN Benefit Trial

Of course, I can’t make this walkthrough as detailed as I would have liked because I only have one MSDN subscription and I’ve already activated the MSDN benefits for it. But hopefully this will be enough to get you your free Windows Azure Water Bottle!

Start by going to and logging in using your Microsoft Account (formerly “Live ID”). Once logged in, you’ll see the main landing page and off to the right, you’ll see a link for “Access Benefits”. I’ve highlighted this in the following picture.

Now if you’re paying attention, you’ll also see that you can click on the “Activate Now” in the big banner. Alternatively, if this is all too difficult, just shortcut all of this and head to:
J I can’t make it much easier.

Once clicked, just follow the prompts to complete setting up your MSDN subscription. You’ll be asked for a credit card (we’ll put a spending limit on the account to prevent any surprise charges) and likely a phone number to help with activation (it’s a fraud prevent measure, sorry). But if all goes well, this should be a fairly painless process. And in about 5 minutes, you’ll hopefully have this task complete and be eligible for your first Windows Azure challenge prize! A well-deserved pat on the back.

Developer Challenge 2 – Create/deploy a Windows Server 2012 VM

Honestly, this one is super easy! And fortunately I can get really detailed on this one. Start by logging into the Windows Azure Management portal at using the Microsoft Account that has your subscription. Once logged on, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the big “+ New” link.

Once click, a menu will “slide up” from the bottom and you’ll navigate through this menu as follows: Compute -> Virtual Machine -> Quick Create (see screen shot).

This will result in a dialog box that will ask you to select the type of machine you’re wanting to deploy. There’s a couple things you’ll want to know:

  • The DNS Name must be globally unique. This name is used by Windows Azure to help route requests directed at your machine to the proper datacenter, and then within the datacenter to the proper virtual machine. So can’t be a name that is already in use.
  • Make sure you select the “Windows Server 2012” Image (that’s what the task calls for)
  • For the Size, select “extra small”. This size may not be very powerful, but minimizes the amount of your MSDN benefit you’ll use.
  • Username needs to be something besides “admin”, so pick something that’s easy for you to remember but also fairly secure (sorry, I’m blurred mine. I’m paranoid that way).
  • Use a STRONG password. You won’t want to try to validate your solution and find its been hacked because your password was “p4ssW0rd!”.
  • Pick a Location that’s convenient. Only locations that can host Windows Azure Virtual Machines will be vislble.

That’s all there is to it!

Developer Challenge 3 – Deploy an ASP.NET application and database

Ok, a bit trickier this time. We’re going to make you work for those ear buds! There’s multiple steps that need to be done to make this one work properly. So be prepared. The outline is…

  • Install the Windows Azure SDK
  • Create the Windows Azure Environment (where our Web Site will be hosted)
  • Create an application to be deployed (in Visual Studio)
  • Deploy the Application (requires importing our Windows Azure publishing profile)
  • Adding a database & data model
  • Created a data deployment script (used to update the cloud database)
  • Publish our changes from Visual Studio to Windows azure

Now admittedly, these steps are enough for an entirely article. And fortunately, there’s already one written over on MSDN. You don’t need to complete the “o-auth” portions of that article for this task. But if you have an extra 15-20 minutes, I’d highly recommend you make the investment.

IT Pro Challenge 1 – Activate a Free Trial

Now enough developer stuff for today. Let’s look at the IT Pro side and get you setup for a free 1-month trial!

Like claiming MSDN benefits, this is super easy! Head over to and click on the “Free Trial” link in the upper right (see image). If that’s too painful, then just click here! You’ll sign in with a Microsoft Account, provide the appropriate information (credit card, phone number, etc…) and the account will be setup pretty quickly. Again, there’s a spending cap in place so you should have to worry about any surprise bills.

With this step complete, you’ve qualified for your “Cloud Pro” badge. 🙂

IT Pro Challenge 2 – Create/deploy a Windows Server Virtual Machine with IIS and a data disk

Ok, the developers had it easy on this one. They only had to do one of three things you IT Pros are being asked for. But hey, they’re “just devs” (just kidding my fellow code monkeys). So lets start by creating the virtual machine just as I discussed in the Developer Challenge 2. Get this provisioned, go catch a TechEd Session, or maybe just get something to drink while you give your virtual machine 10-15 minutes to be built and started.

*insert commercial break here*

Hey there! Glad you could join us again! Time to remote into our virtual machine and get it customized. Lets get logged back into the management portal at and then select the “virtual machines’ group found in the left hand column. Then select the virtual machine we just deployed. Now be sure to select it, don’t click on the hour (I know, this is a bit confusing). I find the easiest way to do this is to not click on the server name, but instead on its status. This selects the row for me, without opening the server details screen.

Now the reason we want the row, is that when we select it, the “tool bar” across the bottom of the screen updates. What we’re most interested in is the “CONNECT” option. Click this button will open a new browser window and prompt us to open an RDP (remote desktop profile) file so we can connect to our virtual machine.

So click away! We’ll likely be prompted with an “unknown publisher” error, go ahead and click through that. Then when prompted for login credentials, use the admin user we defined when we created the virtual machine. This may require you to click on “other user” so you can enter in the machine name (as the domain) and userid for the administrator account you provided. After this, the connection should get secured and you may get prompted with a certificate error. Feel free to click through that one again as well.

Now the task calls for IIS, but in reality we’re not validating this. But you’re an IT pro, so I expect once you’re into an RDP session as an administrator, adding IIS should be a simple process. I’m a dev and I managed it. Here’s the short of it (providing you used the Server 2012 quick launch):

  • Launch system manager by clicking on the icon in the bottom left corner
  • Click on “add roles and features”
  • Click “next” to get through the “before you begin” page
  • Select a “role-based or feature based installation”
  • Select “server roles” in the left menu
  • Scroll down until you find “Web Server (IIS) and select it
  • Confirm “add features” and click next (a few times)
  • Finally, click “install”

The installation will run for a few minutes (depending on the size of the VM). So feel free to kick this off and go get a beverage refill.

Now we get to add a data disk to our virtual machine. This allows us to put more disks into the VM and keep them separated from the OS disk. Like before, we need to select the virtual machine without going into its detail view. But this time, instead of click on “connect”, we’re going to select the “attach” option as highlighted below.

In particular, we’re going to select “Attach empty disk”. We’ll then select a storage account for that disk (by default, it will be placed into the same location as your OS disk), a size (up to 1 terabyte), and a cache preference. For the sake of your challenge, these options don’t much matter. So set a few options, and click the check mark to finalize this.

Now that we’re created the disk and attached it to the VM, we just need to remote back into the machine, and add the new disk in via the manager. So once again we go back into Server Manager in our virtual machine, select File and Storage Services, then disk, and select our virtual machine. We’ll see our new drive in the list (I’ve highlighted mine in the screen shot below), then right-click on the drive and select “initialize”.

Add a volume if you so desire, but at this point we’re just trying to make sure there’s a disk so we can win our next piece of swag. Just be prepared to come by the booth with an RDP session open so you can show us that you have the disk attached to the VM. J

BTW, even though I created a 500gb disk, I won’t pay but a few pennies because the only thing stored on my new disk is the FAT info. Just don’t do a low level format or you’ll be paying for the full 500gb.

Free Windows Azure water bottle unlocked!

Next time

So this concludes the Monday TechEd North America 2013 edition of our challenge. Tomorrow I’m going to try and publish another step for each of these so you can get your really sweet remote control mini-Coopers! But for now, you have no excuse not to get a water bottle, some earbuds, and a nice “atta boy”.


One Response to Windows Azure TechEd Challenge – Monday Cheats!

  1. Dean Dang says:

    I need ear buds! Are you guys open tonight?

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