How My New Azure VM Web Server Is Configured

Following yesterday’s “I’ve moved to Azure” post, I decided to write a bit more about what I’ve done. For obvious reasons, I will not get into deep specifics.

The first step was to create a cloud service. Each cloud service in Azure should be seen as an external point of contact … a public IP address if you want to think of it that way.

I then created a single subnet virtual network.

A storage blob was created in Azure to store the VHD files of the new virtual machine.

A small spec VM (single core, 1.7 GB RAM) was created. An endpoint was created for HTTP in the Azure portal to allow incoming web traffic. I don’t need HTTPS and I don’t use the FTP functionality of WordPress.

I then created a WS2012 R2 Datacenter virtual machine. I configured patching using GPEDIT.MSC, and a few other things. I added IIS and ran the Web Platform Installer to install MySQL, PHP and a few other WordPress prerequisites. I also installed MySQL Workbench … I can’t be bothered googling for MySQL commands.

Two websites were created in IIS and two databases/service accounts were created in MySQL. I have this blog and my photography website to host. I downloaded and extracted 2 copies of the WordPress files, and configured each blog.

I’ve only migrated this site so far – the photography site will be next (more complex because of galleries). I decided against exporting the database from the old server; this was an opportunity to go with whole new versions of everything. So I did WordPress export/import. The export file was bigger than the 2 MB max so I split the export file using a free tool called WXR File Splitter. 2 MB files were too large and caused the import to timeout, so I went with 512 KB. Apparently a hack of PHP would have been an alternative, but I want to avoid hacks.

I added all my WordPress plug-ins and configured them, making sure that my advertisers were OK. And then I tested a bit. And then came the next step: switching the A records for my domain to switch to the new server. That’s the REAL test – will this server work for you.

The last steps were to configure backup. I configured a MySQLDump job to export all databases using Task Scheduler and a batch file. That backs up to a folder called Backup. I then configured an Azure Recovery Services backup Vault for Azure Online Backup. I created a 3 year 2048 bit certificate using the CA in the lab, uploaded the public key to Azure Backup, and imported the private key into the My Computer – Personal Store in the guest OS of the VM. I downloaded the Azure backup agent and configured a daily backup job to backup the Inetpub and the Backup folders. That’s the data of the two WordPress sites saved.

And that’s the lot!

There’s a new Basic VM configuration coming this week. I’ll consider migrating again to a higher spec one of those.

The one question I’ve gotten over and over is “how much does this cost?”. The answer: nothing. I’m using the benefits of my personal MSDN subscription (€75/month). The other one (which I answered in the previous post) was “Why not use an Azure web site?”. Simple: it does not offer enough disk capacity.

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2 thoughts on “How My New Azure VM Web Server Is Configured”

  1. Technically not a hack, just a modification of phps default configuration. You simply need to chhange some values in the php.ini file (specifics escape me currently) to tell php to allow uploading files that are larger than 2MB.

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