How to upload Custom Images to Microsoft Azure using PowerShell

In this post, I am going to show how to upload a custom image used in Windows Hyper-V (2016) to Azure cloud. I will be using a combination of the UI in Hyper-V and PowerShell in Azure Resource Manager. I will be working with Azure Resource Manager (ARM) and with Hyper-V 2016 with a custom image of Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1.

Okay, let’s get started.

Prepare On-Premises Virtual Machine Image

First, we need an image to work with. As mentioned, I am using a Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 (yes, 2008 — needed it for a customer). The VM is Generation 1, which is not only a requirement for Windows 2008, but also a requirement for Azure, as it currently does not support Generation 2 VMs. See HERE to read more on preparing a Windows VHD.

Next, we need to install Hyper-V role on the VM. Since this is a nested VM, we will first need to enable nested-virtualization on the Hyper 2016 box. See a previous post on how to go about this HERE. Once that is complete, go ahead and install the Hyper-V role.

Next, we now need to SysPrep our VM. From an Administrative command prompt, navigate to %windir%\system32\sysprep and then execute the command “sysprep.exe”. Here, we will be using OOBE and enabling “Generalize”, also “Shutdown” the VM once SysPrep completes.

Once the VM is SysPrep’ed, we now need to compact the VHDx (remember Hyper-V 2016 here) and also will need to convert the VHDx to a VHD. This is due to the limitation of Azure at the moment, as it only supports Gen1 VMs and VHD’s.

Go into Hyper-V and within the VM properties, edit the Virtual hard disk. Then we will need to compact the virtual hard disk. Go ahead and do that..

Great, now we need to convert the VHDx to a VHD. Time for PowerShell!

Convert-VHD –Path “<source VHDX path>" –DestinationPath "<destination VHD path>" -VHDType Fixed -Verbose


Let this run (I let it go over night.. it was getting late =) )

Great, now we are ready to move on to Azure and more PowerShell.

Build Azure Container and Upload Image to Azure

First, we need to download  and install the latest AzureRM bits module locally to the Hyper-V box (if you have done this.. jump down a few lines…)

Install-Module AzureRM -Force

Next, since there was a recent update to the AzureRm module, I now need to update the module path location.

$env:PSModulePath = $env:PSModulePath + "; C:\Program Files\WindowsPowerShell\Modules"

Next, we will need to import the AzureRm module.

Import-Module AzureRM -Force

Next, we’ll need to log-in into our Azure account, and specify the subscription to want to work with. In my case, there are multiple Azure subscriptions tied to my email.

Login-AzureRmAccount
Get-AzureRmSubscription
#select the subsciption you will be working with -- if you have one, you can skip this line
Select-AzureRmSubscription -SubscriptionId "<ID>"

Next, we will create a resource group and storage account, and bind the account the group.

New-AzureRmResourceGroup -Name "ResourceGroupName" -Location "Canada East"
New-AzureRmStorageAccount -ResourceGroupName "ResourceGroupName" -Name "StorageAccountName" -Location "Canada East" -SkuName "Standard_LRS" -Kind "Storage"

If you want to change the storage type, to let’s say Geo-redundant, here are the other types of storage:

Valid values for -SkuName are:

  • Standard_LRS – Locally redundant storage.
  • Standard_ZRS – Zone redundant storage.
  • Standard_GRS – Geo redundant storage.
  • Standard_RAGRS – Read access geo redundant storage.
  • Premium_LRS – Premium locally redundant storage.

Now, we need to create a Container and grab the URL needed to upload our image. I did this through the Azure Resource Manager (ARM) Portal since I couldn’t figure out the PowerShell cmdlet (Get-AzureStorageBlob) — if you can get this to work, please let me know!

You can get the URL from the Web UI when you go into the Storage Account >> Blobs >> Container (in my case, I called it “VHD”) >> Properties.

Now we are ready to upload our image/VHD to Azure! For me this took about 2 hours, uploading a 80GB file @ 9-10MBs.

$rgName = "ResourceGroupName"
$AzureVHDURL = "URL"
$LocalVHDPath = "LocalPathtoVHD"
Add-AzureRmVhd -ResourceGroupName $rgName -Destination $AzureVHDURL -LocalFilePath $LocalVHDPath

Great, now we just need to register the VHD disk to the Gallery, and we can begin creating machines based off our image that is now in the cloud! — Another post! 🙂

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