Dynamics GP on Microsoft Azure – Part 6

Pretty soon I’ll have to be more creative with the blog post titles! Part 193 …. geez.

More stuff I’m learning: it’s way easier to install and configure Active Directory Domain Services on Azure than installing SQL Server 2014 fresh on a Windows-only VM. Seriously… I’m on my 3rd attempt to install SQL Server!

If you’ve read my last post, part of the What’s Next was creating a standard VM, installing A/D on it and installing SQL Server on it. This is not and never will be anything close to a production machine, so the significant faux-pas of having SQL Server on a Domain Controller seems like an acceptable risk to me. Since I have test & development licenses, instead of paying by the minute for the license, I figured I should be able to start with a standard Windows O/S VM on Azure and go from there.

Of course! It’s not that easy…

Step 1 was to create a second VM. In creating this second VM and attempting to configure a static IP address for the Domain Controller, I realized I set the first machine up incorrectly… and didn’t know it. So here are some tips if you are planning on trying this yourself. Be warned, I’m not an expert on this and I’m only blogging about this to hopefully help some poor soul who might want to create a simple test environment for themselves, but are also technically challenged on networks and other non-GP things!

Creating another VM for a Domain Controller

Note: I didn’t get a lot of screen shots during this stage because I thought it was basically similar to what I’ve already documented in previous posts. Here roughly are the steps I followed:

  • Create a new VM from the gallery, this time Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter edition.
  • Went through the steps as I documented in Part 1 of this series to create that VM and start it
  • Started to follow the steps in this blog about how to set up a new forest in Active Directory on Azure. I neglected to follow this religiously as it seemed to describe things I thought I already knew! (What is that about a little knowledge is a dangerous thing?!)
  • Attempted to use the Azure Powershell command he indicates to set a static IP address. It didn’t work for me. When I googled the error, it basically said this VM is not a part of a Virtual Network, and if it is not a part of a Virtual Network, then you can’t exactly give it a static IP address! In my head I was thinking “but, I created a Virtual Network already!”. Yes, I did, but I didn’t associate it with the VM.

Where it went off the rails

In my Part 1 blog, I correctly created a Virtual Network. What I didn’t know was you need to create your VM and “put” it on that Virtual Network. Since I was only using one machine, it actually had no effect on my machine, therefore I thought I was home free.

What I should have done: on the 2nd “Virtual Machine Configuration” screenshot, shown below with an arrow indicating where I went wrong, is where I was supposed to select the Virtual Network name, not the region. This is the screen shot from my first VM (note the right side says it’s a SQL Server VM). Because this was my first VM, it was a new Cloud Service, not doing this means I can’t associate my existing VM with the Virtual Network, nor any future ones on that Cloud Service. I’ll come back to this later on in this post…

Azure-10-vm-config-continued -v2

Re-creating a VM from an existing disk

The issue, once I found it, isn’t fixable but thankfully I didn’t have to start completely over, just semi-start-over. Mistakes = Experience right?

When you delete a VM, it asks you if you want the disk(s) deleted or kept. In this case, the VHDs were fine, it’s the Virtual Image that is actually the issue. So, keep the disks, and re-use them. That way if you’ve done any configuration at all on the new VM that work isn’t lost.

I went back through the creating a new VM steps, from the Gallery, and at the bottom chose “My Disks”. Note: it takes a good 5 minutes or more for your now-orphaned VM disk(s) to appear in the My Disks section. This, by the way, is also where you would find uploaded VHDs if you were creating new VMs from custom VHDs you upload.

Since I didn’t get a screen shot as I did it, this will have to do. The disk will be some system-generated name when it appears there. Just be patient and keep checking until it appears, then continue with the normal steps of creating a VM.

Now the next most important thing: choose your virtual network! Here’s the kicker:

  • If you have a previously-created cloud service that wasn’t associated with a virtual network, you can’t use it: the drop down list is greyed out and a region is listed. Picture 1 below, my original cloud service name choice, results in a greyed-out Region/Affinity Group/Virtual Network selection box.

azure-existingcloudservice

  • You need to let it create another cloud service for you so that the drop down list is usable and allows you to pick your virtual network. Picture 2 below, choosing “Create a new cloud service” allows me to use the Region/Affinity Group/Virtual Network selection box.

azure-newcloud

  • Once you have associated a cloud service with a virtual network, the next machine you create, by picking that cloud service name, it automatically associates it with the virtual network. Picture 3 below, my new cloud service name, and again non-editable Region/Affinity Group/Virtual Network selection box but it’s tied to my Virtual Network so all is good.

azure-existingnewcloud

So, my question at this point is: what the heck is the difference between a Cloud Service and a Virtual Network? They are clearly tied together, either a Cloud Service has a Virtual Network or doesn’t and can’t be altered or have both. I’m sure I could google that and get the answer… someone else can do that part. It really doesn’t matter now that I know Cloud Service and Virtual Network are siblings!

Installing Azure Powershell

The next step now that I have a VM, intended to be used as a Domain Controller, is to assign a static IP address.

And of course, it’s done differently than on Hyper-V… the biggest thing: you don’t manually change the network adapter configuration to set it to a static value. You use Azure Powershell to set a static IP address which is basically – if I understand this correctly – a reservation like you would use on a router, to “kind of” guarantee that this machine keeps the same IP address every time it is booted up. That also includes after it’s stopped and de-allocated, which is what I do. This works like a charm.

To do that, you need to use Azure Powershell. Go here, find the link under How to: Install Azure Powershell and install it and open it up. I have barely used Windows Powershell so other than the fact it resembles Command Prompt to me, that is about all I know. I managed to get this static IP set by relying on other blogs and articles to assist me.

First: connect Azure Powershell to your Azure Subscription. The link above tells you how to connect. I’ve used both ways of connecting – Azure AD method and Certificate method. Both work fine and are pretty straight forward. Watch your typing, the cmdlets are a little lengthy at times so typing them accurately is the key. They do not appear to be case sensitive though…

Setting the static IP address

Using Azure Powershell, run the following command (from the same article on creating a new forest). The italic parts are where you need to insert your own values.

What IP to use? When you created your Virtual Network, you configured 1 or more Virtual Network Address Spaces. If you go into Configuration in your Azure portal, for your Virtual Network, you will see the Usable Address Range. I selected the first IP address available to be my domain controller static IP. (In my case it was 10.0.1.4 but the default is probably 10.0.0.4 if you didn’t change the defaults during creation of the virtual network.

Get-AzureVM -ServiceName MyAzureCloudServiceName -Name MyAzureVMName | Set-AzureStaticVNetIP -IPAddress x.x.x.x | Update-AzureVM

This seemed to work just fine, after I got past the initial errors relating to my VM not being part of a virtual network.

After this I continued to follow the steps recommended in the New Forest article above, and installed Active Directory Domain Services. This part I won’t document purely because I really am not an expert here. It was actually pretty straight-forward though…

The last tip: Don’t change the network adapter to your static IP address! Let Azure use DHCP to assign IP addresses. By running that cmdlet in Powershell, you have given this machine an IP reservation which works fine.

At the end of this once the machine is promoted to a domain controller, is to go to your Virtual Network configuration in Azure portal, and set the DNS Server to this machine’s new static IP. That tells your virtual network which machine to use.

Next Problem: no external internet access

Shockingly, the next problem I had was not being able to access the internet, for windows updates or anything else. I really am not sure if how I resolved this is technically the best way to resolve it but here is what I did:

  • I logged into my new VM, using my domain credentials.
  • I went to Command Prompt and typed in ipconfig /all to get the list of IP addresses on my server
  • Scroll down until you see DHCP Server and it’s an external IP address. Write this down.
  • Go back to your Virtual Network DNS settings in your Azure portal, and add this to your DNS server listing as well as the domain controller’s IP

That worked for me. YMMV. There were a lot of articles about not having external internet access from a domain controller and eventually I found one that gave me this tip and it worked.

Installing SQL Server 2014 Standard

As is often the case, the part I thought might be hard, was easy enough, and the part that I thought would be a no-brainer, was hard. As I write this, I started writing nearly an hour ago and I was on to my 3rd attempt at installing SQL Server. Normally it’s a pretty easy task!

It failed and I failed to grab the error message, but basically everything installed successfully except the Database Engine Services. It was late at night when I first tried so I didn’t feel like figuring it out right then.

Today, I took another crack at it. I uninstalled and reinstalled just the database engine piece. Didn’t get a screen shot but the error text was “wait on the database engine recovery handle failed”. Same error as a couple of days ago. I google the error and get a couple of things to try. In perfect “do what I say, not what I do” fashion, I tried 2 things at once to resolve the issue and it worked. Which one fixed it? I have no idea! LOL… yes I do troubleshoot for a living and normally you try fixing one thing at a time. Ya, well…

Here’s what I did:

  • Run the SQL Server setup as Administrator. Even though I *am* the administrator. Duh. I never understand this …
  • Set up an active directory user for the SQL Services, instead of using the default service accounts.
  • Oh ya, and made sure this VM was set to Canada in Regional Settings so I didn’t have to mess around with SQL Server Collation issues again! (see Part 2 of my series for that fun experience!)

Because this is a test server (have I said that enough times yet?), I wouldn’t normally set up service accounts, I pretty much install standard defaults with SQL except of course making sure it uses Mixed Mode Authentication. But this time, not wanting to install a 4th time if “Run As” wasn’t the problem, I decided to also create service accounts for the services.

What’s Next?

Here are some things I plan to do next:

  • Re-install GP 2015 and do a server move from my first VM to this VM. I probably won’t blog about this since it’s fairly ho-hum.
  • Install Management Reporter and migrate my FRx reports to MR
  • Delete my original VM once this proves to be a working solution, assuming no issues

There might be one more article in this series to wrap up and let the machine run for a few days to see what it costs me over more than minimal use. Otherwise I’ll post as I find new things on Azure that I figure are worth sharing!

Previous articles in this series

  • Part 1 – how this series started, setting up an Azure subscription, step-by-step how to set up a virtual network and VM
  • Part 2 – change of approach, connecting to your VM, copying files, SQL config changes for GP, SQL collation problems when copying in my previous GP data, cost update
  • Part 3 – cost update and details on how the charges are derived, performance to date, the Temporary storage, printing & GP upgrade
  • Part 4 – cost update, RDP settings & local drives, VM sizes, Free Trial recommendation
  • Part 5 – cost for the first month and what’s next plans

(originally posted on www.kuntzconsulting.ca, and migrated to this site in October 2017)

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