Deployment and Migration: Building Student Hands-On-Labs in Azure for Free (Part 15 of 19) by Brian Lewis

In previous IT Camp Events, I’ve covered Windows Azure and how you can use it to build out a lab for testing. What I never did was create a nice document that provided steps and guidelines on how to do that. As Part 15 of the Deployment and Migration Blog Series, Brian Lewis did a very good job documenting the steps of signing up for a free 90 Day Windows Azure Trial and then building out the VM and then using that as the base to build another one.

I am including a brief snippet from Brian’s blog below, but you will really want to go to Brian’s blog post directly to read the entire article.

This past week I have been working on building a student lab in Azure. The idea is that as students can work on a Windows Server labs with their own preconfigured lab and for free. The way to accomplish this is to have each student register for their own free 90 day trial and then copy over the pre created virtual servers.

While testing this I have found a few interesting things:

Azure storage is fast.
To copy a 10gig server image from my storage to the students new account was always done in under 10 seconds! Wow, even my local servers aren’t near as fast. I just read today that Azure has the fastest and most stable cloud storage of all the major cloud providers. (Read about that here on

Passwords Still Suck.
Yesterday I was working on a new Windows Server 2008R2 machine that I provisioned in Azure for a student lab. I set the password to “P@ssw0rd”. This was to have it slightly complex but easy enough for students to remember. It only took about three minutes for my RDP session to log me out because someone else had logged in as administrator. I logged back in quickly and tried to change my password. I was quickly kicked out again and before I could log back in my password had been changed and my server was now owned by someone else. The moral of my story is use a complex uncommon password. There are scripts hitting RDP on port 3389 that try the Administrator account with a common password list. They will own your box in under 10 minutes.

The Cloud is Cool.
The more I work with Azure IAAS the more I appreciate how awesome it is to have the public “Cloud” especially the free 90 day trial.

Setup is easy.
It is easy to setup an environment like this. Below I will publish a step by step guide on how to accomplish this.

Building the Lab

The first thing to do is to build your servers for the Lab. For example if I were to build a lab on doing an in-place upgrade from Server 2008R2 to server 2012 on a domain controller the steps would be.

Get your Free Trial Azure Free
NOTE: When activating your FREE 90-Day Subscription for Windows Azure, you will be prompted for credit card information. This information is used only to validate your identity and your credit card will not be charged, unless you explicitly convert your FREE Trial account to a paid subscription at a later point in time. Get your trial here:


Harold Wong