I just received a notification that my request to join the Beta Program for Azure Connect was approved. And that immediately got me starting to test it out. Things look very straightforward.
I am using the phrase VPN as a Service for this feature, since it really explains it all.
Virtual Network Configuration of Windows Azure Role
- After logging in on the Azure Portal, you can click the Virtual Network button in the left corner at the bottom of the screen:
- After this, it is possible to enable the Virtual Network features for a specific subscription
- When selecting a subscription, you can get the Activation Token from the portal, by clicking the ’Get Activation Token’ button. That allows to copy the activation token to the clipboard for later use.
Visual Studio project settings
- In Visual Studio, when having the SDK 1.3 installed, it is possible to copy the activation token to the properties of an Azure role in the property pages:
- Now you can deploy the role to the Windows Azure portal.
Adding an ’on-premise’ server to the Virtual Cloud Network
Installing the Azure Connect Client software agent
- On the local servers, it is now possible to install the ’Local endpoint’, by clicking the correct button.
- This shows a link to download the software on the machine (on premise). This link is only active for a while.
- The installation package is very easy to install, by selecting the correct language and clicking Next-Next-Finish. After the endpoint software is installed, be sure to open the TCP 443 outbound port.
- As expected, the local endpoint agent runs as a Windows Service:
Adding a local endpoint to an Azure Endpoint group
- An Azure Endpoint group can be created, by clicking the “Create Group” button in the ribbon of the management portal.
- This pops up a wizard where you can provide a name for the group and where you can add the local endpoints and Azure roles that should be part of the group. You can also indicate if the local endpoints are “interconnected” or not. This specifies if the endpoints can reach each other.
(be careful: in some multi-tenant situations, this can be seen as a risk!)
- I could immediately see my local computer name in the Local Endpoint list and in the Role list, I could only see the role that was configured with the activation token for this Connect group.
- That’s the only required actions we need to take and now we have IP/Network connectivity between my local machine and my Azure role in the Cloud.
Testing the connectivity
Since I had added the Remote Desktop Connectivity support to my Azure role (see my previous blog post: Exploring the new Azure property pages in Visual Studio), I am now able to connect to my Role instance in the cloud and connect to it.
- After logging in on my machine, I was immediately able to connect to my local machine, using my machine name. I had a directory shared on my local machine and I was able to connect to it.
- For a nice test, I added a nice ’cloud picture’ on my local share and selected it to be my desktop background in the cloud. (the picture was on top of a Mountain in the French Alps, with the Mount Blanc in the background, for those wondering)
- A part of my cloud desktop is here:
This was a very simple post, highlighting the way to set up the configuration between a Cloud app and local machines. It really only took me about 5 minutes to get this thing working, knowing that I had never seen or tested this functionality before (only heard about it).
Some nice scenarios can now be implemented:
- Making your Azure roles part of your Active Directory
- Network connectivity between Cloud and Local (including other protocols, like UDP)
Definitely more to follow soon.
Sam Vanhoutte, Codit