Category Archives: Azure VM

Azure Load Balancer on Virtual Machines

Recently, I needed to scale out my web app hosted on Virtual Machine. After a few hiccups and learnings, I was finally able to Load Balance my web app hosted over multiple Virtual Machines. I have tried to document the steps in the form of a blog here.

To scale out I used following configuration:

  • Two Azure virtual machines, Windows Server 2012 R2 hosting web app on IIS
  • Azure load Balancer (By Microsoft)

1. Create Resource Group

We will start with creating a Resource Group. The VMs and Load Balancer will be created in the same Resource Group. This helps us to keep things together.

On the Azure portal, go to Resource groups -> click Add -> Provide Resource group name, select Subscription and Resource Group location -> Click Create

Create_Resource_Group
Create Resource group

2. Create Azure VM1 (First Virtual Machine)

Select New -> Virtual Machines -> Select VM Windows Server 2012 R2 -> Select deployment model to Resource Manager -> Click Create.

You will be taken to Create Virtual Machine wizard.

a. Basics – Configure basic settings

Provide the name of Virtual Machine, Server User name, password -> Select the Resource Group created in the previous step -> click OK

Create-Azure-VM1.png
Create Virtual Machine

b. Size – Choose virtual machine size

Select the size of Virtual Machine and click Ok

c. Settings – Configure optional features

Under Settings, Create new Virtual network.

Create-VM-Virtual Network
Create new Virtual network

Next, create new Availability set

Create-new-AvailablitySet
Create New availability set

d. Summary

Under Summary, validate the details and Click Ok to create the Virtual machine.

3. Create Azure VM 2 (Second Virtual Machine)

Create second  virtual machine similar to the first Virtual Machine. Make sure to select same Virtual Network and Availability Set.

Create-Azure-VM2
Create Second Virtual Machine with same Virtual network and Availability set

4. Publish Web App to Azure VM

The next step is to publish the Web App to Azure VM. You can follow steps as explained in my previous blog post.  For this demo, I have deployed a simple web app which displays the machine name of the server.

Virtual Machine1: test-vm1

test-vm1.PNG
Web App hosted on Virtual Machine 1

Virtual Machine2: test-vm2

test-vm2.PNG
Web App hosted on Virtual Machine 2

4. Configure Load Balancer

a. Create Load Balancer

From the Azure portal, Click New -> Search Load Balancer -> Select Load Balancer with publisher as Microsoft -> Click Create

Create-LoadBalancer.PNG
Create new Load balancer – 1

Next, in the Create load balancer wizard, Provide the Name of Load Balancer  -> Create new IP address -> Provide the Resource group same as created in earlier step -> Click Create

Create-lb-step2.png
Create new Load balancer – 2

b. Add Probe

Once, the load balancer has been created, select the load balancer -> Click Settings -> Select Probes -> Click Add -> Provide the name of the probe, keep the Port number as 80 -> click Ok.

Add-Probe.PNG
Add probe

c. Add backend pool

Select the load balancer -> Click Settings -> Select Backend pools -> Click Add -> Provide the Name of the backend pool -> Select the Availability set created while creating Virtual Machines -> Choose both the Virtual Machines -> Click Select and Ok

Add-BackendPool.PNG
Add backend pool

d. Add Load balancing rule

Select the load balancer -> Click Settings -> Select Add Load balancing rule -> Click Add -> Provide the Name of load balancing rule -> Select the backend pool created in the previous step -> Click Ok

Add-lb-rule.PNG
Add Load balancing rule

e. Configure DNS Name for Load balancer

Select Public Ip Address -> Click Settings -> Click Configuration -> Provide DNS name label  –> Click Save

Add-DNS-To-LB.PNG
Configure DNS name for Load balancer

That’s It!. We are done. Navigate to the DNS address you provided for the load balancer and you will be navigated to one of the Azure VM. To verify the load balancing, shut down one of the machines and see all the requests being redirected to the second Azure Virtual Machine.

Load-Balance-Url
Load Balancer URL
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Publish Web App to Azure Virtual Machine – Part 2

This post is Part 2 of the series – Publish web app to Azure VM. In this post I will take the application, we created in Part 1 and publish it on Azure Virtual Machine through Visual Studio Team Services.

Before you go any further I you recommend to go through Part 1 of the series, if you have not already.

As a pre-requisite I have assumed that your solution along with the publish profile you created in part 1 is checked in Visual Studio Team Services. For this demo I have used the Team Foundation as my version control. But steps are same if you have used Git as your version control.

Publish Web App from Visual Studio Team Services

First, go to your Visual Studio Team Services dashboard of your project. Your visual studio team services dashboard should look similar to the figure below:

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Visual Studio Team Services Dashboard

 

Now, click on Continuous Integrate to create your build definition. This will take you to a new page where you will see a “+” icon on left navigation pane. Click on icon to create a new build definition and then select Visual Studio template.

CI - step1.png
Create new build Definition

Click next, select your repository in the second step and then click create.

Your build definition will have some default build steps added. Keep only Nuget restore and remove rest of the build steps as this demo is focussed only on publishing the build to Azure VM.

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Visual Studio Definition – Nuget restore build step

Next, click on Add Build step and add MsBuild task from Add build step window. We will use MsBuild to publish the publish profile we created in first part of this series.

Now, select MS Build step and specify your MsBuild arguments as

/p:DeployOnBuild=true /p:PublishProfile="$(publishProfileName)" /p:Password="$(userServerPassword)" /p:Configuration="$(BuildConfiguration)"

Let us go through each argument one by one:

  • DeployOnBuild: Setting DeployOnBuild to true means, we will deploy the solution after building
  • PublishProfile: Defines the name of the publish profile we use for the deploying. We have provided the value of publish profile as user defined variable, $(publishProfileName). We will define this variable later.
  • Password: Defines the user password of the Azure virtual machine. Again, we have provided the value of password as variable $(userServerPassword) which we will define later.
  • Configuration: Defines the build configuration of the solution. This build configuration value can be either be release or debug based on kind of deployment you are doing.

With this our build steps are completed.

ci-step4
Visual Studio Definition – MS Build Step

Next, we need to define the variables we used in MSBuild step. Select Variables tab in the build definition. Click, Add variable and give the variable name as publishProfileName. Provide the value of the variable same as the name of your publish profile. Click, on Add variable again and give the name of variable as userServerPassword. Provide password of Azure VM user in the value field of variable. Since, password is sensitive information, make sure to click on the lock icon present on the right side of the variable field.

For both the variables also check Allow at Queue Time. This will prompt the user to change the values of variables before queueing the build.

Also, notice that variable $(BuildConfiguration) is created by default so we do not need to add it again.

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Visual Studio Definition – Variables

Next, you can optionally define the when this build definition would be executed from Triggers tab. You can chose to either build each check-in (Continuous Integration) or schedule it at a specific time.

Now, click save and provide the name of the build to complete our visual studio definition.

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Visual Studio Definition – Save

With this all our build definition is complete. Now, just queue you build and verify that publish to Azure is successful.

ci-step7
Queue Build

Important Note

Your build definition may fail with error #ERROR_CERTIFICATE_VALIDATION_FAILED. This error comes up because the remote server has a self-signed certificate for the Remote Agent Service or the Web Management Service. In this case, you need to bypass the certificate validation. Go to your publish profile in your solution under Properties -> PublishProfiles. Add below line to the property group

<AllowUntrustedCertificate>True</AllowUntrustedCertificate>

This option should NOT be used for Production. In production make sure to have a valid certificate on remote server.

 

Publish Web App to Azure Virtual Machine – Part 1

This post is two-part series where I will explain how we can publish a web app to Azure Virtual Machine.

In the Part 1 of this post I have explained how to publish a web app directly from Visual Studio. In the Part 2, I will publish the same web app from Visual Studio Team Services.

Important Note: Publishing a web app from Visual Studio directly should be use only during development. Usually, developers do not have access to Production VMs.  In Production you can use PowerShell script to publish the web app outside the Visual Studio.

Prerequisites

  1. Active Azure Subscription. Create your free Azure account if you don’t already have one.
  2. Windows Virtual Machine on Azure: Follow these steps on to create an Azure Virtual Machine. For this demo I have created “Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter” with deployment mode as “Resource Manager“.
  3. Visual Studio 2015 – Update 2 with Azure SDK 2.9 or greater.
  4. Code repository on Visual Studio Team Services: Create an account on Visual Studio Team Services and set up your code repository using Git or Team Foundation Version Control. I have used TFS as my version control for this demo. This step is required only for part 2 of this series.

Configure Virtual Machine

1. Open http port 80 and web deploy port 8172

Our first step is to open http port 80 and web deploy port 8172 on Azure VM. In the classic Azure VM this step is straightforward. All you need to do is to create an endpoint. While port 80 is opened by default, you can follow these steps to open endpoint 8172.

In the Azure Resource Manager (ARM) VM we need to open both ports 80 and 8172. You can follow my previous blog post where I have explained how add an Inbound security rule to open port 80 on the Azure VM. Similarly, you need add an Inbound security rule to open port 8172 on the VM.

Your Inbound security rules window on Azure portal after adding rules to open the port should like figure below:

inbound-security-rules
Inbound security rules

 2. Configure DNS Name

With classic Azure VM, the cloud service is created automatically and you do not need to do anything special to configure DNS name.

To configure DNS name with ARM VM, follow the steps to configure azure vm in my previous blog post.

3. Set up web deploy on remote machine

Now, remote desktop on your virtual machine and install IIS on your machine. To install IIS, go to Add Roles and features Wizard and select Web Service (IIS), under Application Development select all options.

Now, install Web Platform Installer 5.0 on your server from this link. Once installed search for web deploy on the Web platform installer. Look for “Web Deploy 3.6 for Hosting Server” and install.

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Install Web Deploy on Azure VM

The next step is to create a website in IIS where we will host our application. To keep the things simple for this demo, I will deploy my application on Default Web Site. Now, select your website from IIS. Then, under IIS Manager Permissions add user with appropriate permission.

iis-manager-permission.png
IIS on Azure VM

Before we proceed further make sure that you have opened port 8172 on Windows Firewall. For this you need to create following firewall rules on your machine:

Direction From Port To Port Port Type
Inbound Any 8172 TCP
Outbound 8172 Any TCP

Publish Web App from Visual Studio

For this demo I have created a simple MVC web application from the standard visual studio template. I modified the home page to show my machine name and hosting server. On local, my homepage looks like below:

localhost-homepge
Web App on localhost

Now, the next step is to create  a publishing profile to publish the web app directly from Visual Studio to Azure. Select the project, right click and select publish. On the publish window, expand More Options and select Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines.

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Select Publish target – Azure Virtual Machine

You will be then asked to login to the Microsoft Azure account. Login to your Azure account and then select the Windows VM you have created already.

select-azure-vm
Log in to Azure subscription and select Virtual Machine

Click Next and provide your publish details. Keep the publish method as “Web Deploy“. Do not change the server details. Provide the name of the site you created in previous steps. Provide your VM username and password.

publish-web
Validate Connection with Azure VM

 

Now, click Validate Connection to validate your connection. You may get a Certificate Error. This error comes up because the remote server has a self-signed certificate for the Remote Agent Service or the Web Management Service. Click Accept to bypass certificate validation.

validate-certificate
Bypass certificate validation

 

Click “Next” and then “Publish”. Once, the publish completes go to the publish URL to verify that the web app is up and running.

remote-homepage
Web App hosted on Azure Virtual Machine