Connecting Windows Server 2016 with Azure

Into the Blue

Windows Server 2016 as an Azure VM

Running Windows Server 2016 as a VM in Azure is also possible. Selecting New | Virtual Machines gives you several options. You can create either a conventional Windows server based on Windows Server 2016 Datacenter or a server with already activated container technology. Windows Server 2016 is also available in Azure as a nano installation. By selecting the VMs, Windows Server 2016 servers can be provided very quickly and can also be connected to local networks through virtual networks. Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) access to the servers is fast and easy. After creating the VM, the associated RDP file can be downloaded directly from the Azure portal.

A wizard guides you through the setup process, where you can also select the virtual networks to which the server should belong. VMs can be combined to form networks. Azure also offers a way to create virtual networks with different subnets. The networks are routed automatically. In Azure, virtual networks form the link between servers in the cloud and local networks. In this way, you can run networks in the cloud and connect the server services to the corporate network. This also applies to containers and nano servers based on Windows Server 2016. To create virtual networks, choose New | Networking | Virtual network . Use the new Azure web portal for the configuration. When creating a virtual network, it is important to assign the network's storage location correctly (i.e., the resource group).

When setting up a virtual network, also determine the DNS servers that are available on the VM for name resolution. Several DNS servers can also be stored here; they are created later as virtual servers and can be a predefined Windows image based on Windows Server 2016, a self-installed server, or a Linux server. You can also connect to corporate networks.

Managing Virtual Networks

Subnetworks play an important role in the management of virtual networks and can be used to isolate virtual servers from other services, which is particularly interesting when using the containers in Windows Server 2016. The IP addresses on the subnet can be freely defined because they are only used within the virtual network and the servers connected to this network.

Azure automatically sets up routing between the different subnets you configure without having to adjust any settings. Subnets can be added to virtual networks at any time. It is also possible to specify for each virtual network whether it should communicate with other networks or be connected to company networks. You can customize virtual network settings at any time and create additional subnets, connect gateways and local networks, and much more. The DNS servers can also be adapted and expanded at any time. The VM settings show the associated virtual networks.

When you create VMs in Azure, you can assign them directly to specific networks and subnets. You have the option of installing a server yourself or using a predefined image (e.g., Windows Server 2016). As mentioned above, the servers can be directly assigned to virtual networks in the wizard. You can also add the VMs to a resource group. This is a group of resources in Microsoft Azure (e.g., multiple VMs).

Assignments to virtual networks are also defined by using the wizard to create new servers. If you have created several subnets for a virtual network, you can select the desired subnet after selecting the virtual network. The IP address of the server is assigned by DHCP within the subnet. No configuration is necessary. If you have created several servers in a virtual network, they can talk to, or ping, one other. However, the servers are managed through their external IP addresses and the configured endpoints, as can be seen in the VM settings.

Exchange 2016 and Office 365

Exchange Server 2016 and Office 365 also play an important role when it comes to cloud operation of Windows Server 2016. Office 365 uses Azure Active Directory (AD) for authentication. Windows 10 Enterprise can also use Azure AD. The new programs and operating systems in Windows Server 2016 close the circle of pervasive use of Azure.

As of Cumulative Update 3 [3], Exchange Server 2016 supports installations on servers running Windows Server 2016. Therefore, the Hybrid Configuration Wizard can also be used together with Windows Server 2016, Exchange Server 2016, Office 365, and Microsoft Azure. Unlike previous versions, this is a standalone product, and the wizard is no longer integrated with Exchange. The Office 365 Hybrid Configuration Wizard [4] adapts its functionality to the capabilities of the Exchange version used.

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