Hands-on Lab: Build a SharePoint Dev-Test Farm in the Cloud (Part 1 – Get Started with Windows Azure Infrastructure Services)

Windows Azure Infrastructure Services provides cloud-based storage, virtual networks and virtual machines that can be provisioned on-demand to support lab, pilot or production application workloads. In this multi-part Step-By-Step hands on lab format we will walk you through the entire process.  The introduction and index post can be found at: Hands-on Lab: Build a SharePoint Dev-Test Farm in the Cloud using Windows Azure Infrastructure Services (Part 0 – Introduction and Series Index) 

Prior Step: Introduction and Series Index

Exercise 1: Get Started with Windows Azure Infrastructure Services

In this exercise, you will activate a free Windows Azure Trial Subscription and then setup two components that will be needed for the other exercises in this lab: a Windows Azure Affinity Group and a Windows Azure Storage Account.

1)      Sign-up for your FREE Windows Azure Trial Account.
Sign-up for a FREE trial of Windows Azure at
http://aka.ms/iaas so that you can follow along with the steps in this Hands-on Lab
When signing up for a Free Trial subscription, you will be prompted to login with Microsoft Account (formerly Windows Live ID) credentials.  If you do not have valid Microsoft Account credentials, you may create new credentials at
Note: During the Free Trial sign-up process, you will be asked for credit card information to confirm that you are a legitimate free trial subscriber.  Your credit card information is only used to confirm your identity and you will NOT be charged for any Windows Azure services unless you explicitly convert your trial subscription to a paid subscription at a later date.

2)      Login to the Windows Azure Management Portal.
Login to the web-based Windows Azure Management Portal at
with the same logon credentials you used to sign-up for the FREE Trial above. 

Once you’ve logged in, you should see the main Windows Azure Management portal dashboard.

On the blue side navigation bar of the Windows Azure Management Portal, you’ll find the options for managing Virtual Machines, Virtual Networks, Storage and Settings in the cloud.  These are the items we’ll be primarily working with in this hands-on lab.  

You may need to scroll the blue side navigation bar up and down to see all of the options.

3)      Define a new Windows Azure Affinity Group.
Affinity Groups in Windows Azure are used to group your cloud-based services together, such as Virtual Machines, Virtual Networks and Storage, in order to achieve optimal performance. When you use an affinity group, Windows Azure will keep all services that belong to your affinity group running within the same data center as close as possible to each other to reduce latency and increase performance.

a)      Create a new Affinity Group by selecting Settings from the blue side navigation bar in the Windows Azure Management Portal.  You may need to scroll the blue side navigation bar down to see this selection.

b)      On the Settings page, select the Affinity Groups tab on the top navigation bar (you will probably have to scroll down; scroll bar is hidden and can be found by hovering over the right part of the blue NAV pane on the left. 

c)      Click the +ADD button on the bottom navigation bar.

d)      On the Create Affinity Group form, enter the following details:
Name: Enter a unique name for your new Affinity Group, such as XXXlab01 (where XXX is replaced with your initials)
Region: Select the “East US” datacenter sub-region.
Click the
 button to create a new Affinity Group.

4)      Create a new Windows Azure Storage Account.
Virtual Machines that are provisioned in Windows Azure are stored in the world-wide cloud-based Windows Azure Storage service.  In terms of high availability, the Storage service provides built-in storage replication capability – where every VM is replicated to three separate locations within the Windows Azure data center region you select.  In addition, Windows Azure Storage provides a geo-replication feature for also replicating your VMs to a remote data center region.

a)      Create a new Storage account by clicking the +NEW button on the bottom toolbar in the Windows Azure Management Portal and then click Data Services | Storage | Quick Create.  

b)      Complete the following fields for creating your Storage account:

URL: Enter a unique name for your new storage account, such as XXXlabstor01 (where XXX is replaced with your initials)
Region/Affinity Group: Select the Affinity Group you created in Step 3 above.
Enable Geo-Replication: By default, this option is selected.  Leave the default option in place.
Click the CREATE STORAGE ACCOUNT button to create your new Windows Azure Storage account.


Next Step: Register a DNS Server in Windows Azure