Getting Started With Azure Pack (Part 6)

by [Published on 22 Sept. 2015 / Last Updated on 22 Sept. 2015]

This article continues the discussion of Azure Pack by examining the procedure for creating a hosting plan.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

In the previous article in this series, we finally got Microsoft Azure Pack up and running. In this article, I want to continue the discussion by showing you how to go about configuring a hosting plan.

So what is a hosting plan? Well, before I answer that question think about the way that Microsoft Azure works. Microsoft Azure is a subscription-based service. If you want to be able to create Azure virtual machines or use any of the other Azure resources then you are going to need an Azure subscription. This subscription is not only used for billing purposes, it is also used as a way of keeping your Azure resources separate from other Azure customers.

Azure Pack works a little bit differently. Azure Pack is designed to be a Web interface that can be used in private or hybrid cloud environments. That being the case, you can use Azure Pack without having to go get a Microsoft Azure subscription (you will need an Azure subscription if you want to build a hybrid cloud).

The thing about private clouds is that roles are handled differently than they would be in a public cloud environment. In a public cloud for instance, it is the hosting company (in this case Microsoft) that maintains the infrastructure and sells subscriptions. Subscribers are generally IT professionals who subscribe to Microsoft Azure on behalf of the companies that they work for.

In a private cloud environment there is no hosting company. The IT staff takes on the role of cloud provider. And it isn’t the IT staff that subscribes to the private cloud, but rather authorized users who want to be able to create virtual machines within the private cloud. Because these users are going to be subscribing to the private cloud, the IT staff needs to give those users something to subscribe to. This is where a hosting plan comes into play.

You can think of a hosting plan as a service offering. Think about the way that your ISP sells services. They probably have a low end, basic package with very slow connectivity. The ISP probably also offers a premium package with high speed Internet and lots of extras. You can do the same thing with your private cloud. You can set up different hosting plans as a way of providing subscribers (the users within your company) with different levels of service.

Creating a Hosting Plan

To create a hosting plan, log into Azure Pack and then click on the New icon that is located at the bottom of the screen. Upon doing so, Azure Pack will prompt you to choose the type of new resource that you want to create. Choose the Plan option, followed by the Create Plan option. This will cause Azure Pack to launch the Let’s Create a Hosting Plan wizard.

The wizard’s initial screen prompts you to enter a name for the plan that you are creating. You can call the plan anything that you want, but in my experience it is rare for an organization to use a single hosting plan. Typically, an organization will start off using one hosting plan, but will eventually create additional hosting plans as the adoption rate for the private cloud increases. That being the case, it is a good idea to use a descriptive name.

Even though I do recommend using a good, descriptive name for the hosting plan, I also realize that there is a bit of a learning curve associated with using Azure Pack. That being the case, you might consider calling your first hosting plan Demo or Test or something like that. That way, you can use the hosting plan to get a feel for how hosting plans work, but won’t accidentally use the plan in production.

Upon entering a name for the hosting plan that you are creating, click Next and you will see the wizard’s Select Services for a Hosting Plan screen. This screen asks you to select the services that you would like to include in your hosting plan. For each service that you select, you will be able to choose which instances of the service should be allowed to be used by subscribers of the hosting plan (assuming that multiple instances exist). This particular screen lets you choose from virtual machine clouds, SQL Servers, and MySQL Servers.

When you make your selection and click Next, you will be taken to the Select Add-Ons for the Plan screen. Typically you will find that there aren’t any compatible add-ons available and you can just click the Done icon. Upon doing so, your hosting plan will be created.

As you have seen, creating a hosting plan is a very simple process. The only thing that we really did was to select the types of services that we wanted to make available to subscribers of the plan. If that seems somewhat unimpressive then don’t worry. Even though the plan has been created, it is not ready to use just yet. As it stands right now, the plan is little more than an empty container. We need to customize the plan before we can use it.

With that said, go ahead and click on the newly created plan. When you do, you will be taken into the plan’s dashboard where you will see a message telling you that one or more services is not configured. To fix this problem, scroll down to the bottom of the screen and click on the Virtual Machine Cloud that is listed within the Plan Services section. Upon doing so, you will be taken to a screen that prompts you to select your VMM management server and to select the private cloud that the plan should be linked to.

This screen also allows you to set usage limits for the resources within the private cloud. You can set usage limits for things such as virtual machines, cores, RAM, storage, and virtual networks. These resources are initially unlimited for plan subscribers, but you can place usage caps on the various resources.

If you scroll down beneath the Usage Limits section, you are taken to the Networks section. This section requires you to specify the virtual networks that plan subscribers are allowed to use. You also have the ability to associate virtual machine templates with the plan (more on that later in the series) and to implement some additional settings. For example, you have the ability to regulate checkpoint usage and to enable or disable the ability to connect to the virtual machine console.

When you finish going through this screen and you click Done, you will be taken back to the main dashboard screen. You will now see a message stating that the plan is private and that if you want customers to be able to sign up for the plan you must make it public. To do so, just click on the Change Access icon and then make the plan public.

Conclusion

In this article, I have explained that you need to create one or more hosting plans prior to allowing your users to access a private cloud through Azure Pack. In the next article in the series, I will talk about how you would go about adding virtual machine templates to your private cloud.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

See Also


The Author — Brien M. Posey

Brien M. Posey avatar

Brien Posey is an MCSE and has won the Microsoft MVP award for the last few years. Brien has written well over 4,000 technical articles and written or contributed material to 27 books.

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