Microsoft Azure is a cloud-based server deployment service that closely compares to Amazon’s AWS. The Platform offers scalable servers with redundant backups present in geographically de-centralized locations. The service is used by Fortune 500 companies and other enterprises worldwide due to its relatively low cost and the plethora of advantages it offers over traditional on-site server-based solutions. With infinite room for upgradability, deploying your server has never been so easy and straightforward.
Creating an Azure Storage Account:
An Azure Storage Account can either be used for general purpose storage for your enterprise / personal information or act as off-site backups for valuable information. Thankfully, Azure’s GUI-based account and server management system allows you to effortlessly create a Storage Server that only you have access to. You can then choose what particular type of data you want to store in that server, affecting the final monthly cost.
Firstly, create an Azure account. After you have done it, go to your Azure Portal and create a new storage account. After you have chosen a subscription resource group, select a unique name for your account. Since you will be using this name a lot, try to create a memorable name.
Afterward, choose your server’s geographic location. Generally, the server closest to you is the better. Then, choose your level of service. For most cases, we recommend the standard service. Choose the StorageV2 option as it is the latest standard used by most enterprises.
Then, you should choose your replication/backup settings. This option perhaps has the highest effect on your overall monthly cost. If the data you are storing is extremely important and cannot ever be lost or destroyed, you should go for the reliable GRS (Geo-Redundant) storage option.
If data is lost on your account or if a natural disaster ends up striking the particular server, your data will automatically be backed up to multiple locations. If the data is not that important, you can use the LRS (Locally Redundant) storage option.
Using GRS will cost you about 10-20x more in monthly fees than if you opted for an LRS option for a rough comparison. The final option you will be selecting is whether the data you access will be ‘Hot’ or ‘Cold.’ If the data is frequently used, use the ‘Hot’ option. Otherwise, use the latter.
After you are done and have reviewed everything, click on the Create option to complete the process.
Creating a Windows Virtual Machine:
After signing in to Azure, go to the Virtual Machines tab in the search option and add a Virtual Machine in the Portal.
Enter your instance details and select Windows Server 2019 or 2020 for your installation. Provide the dropdown menu with your credentials for the administrator account that is about to be made. Then, select the particular specifications you need for your virtual machine. Try to choose the region closest to you to avoid latency issues.
To connect to your virtual machine after its creation, you will need to download an RDP Client from the Windows or Mac Store. You can then type in the credentials and the public IPV4 address provided to you in the Azure Portal to connect to the machine.
After you have connected, you can use the virtual machine as you would any other Windows computer. The performance of the VM will significantly depend on the specifications you chose.
Creating a VPN:
While there are many VPN services already out there, none provide you with the robust security that a VPN from Microsoft Azure does as it is entirely private. However, setting it up takes a bit more time as it is entirely DIY-based. Here’s how you can set up your Virtual Private Network on the Platform, which will operate on the SoftEther Framework.
After you have created a Virtual Machine on the Azure Portal, log-in and access the virtual machine’s tab on the left navigation bar for the particular region, name, and size. We recommend choosing the most basic option as a VPN does not consume a lot of resources.
However, for your region, if you intend to use the VPN to emulate living in a particular country, choose one present in that region. If that is not the case, choose a region closest to you, as it will reduce the latency between the VPN and you.
After you have logged into the new virtual machine, the default networking and management settings should be adequate for most enterprise and personal uses. After this, head towards the guest config tab. Here, you can review all the resources your Virtual VPN machine will be consuming and can make any final changes if you want to.
After you are done with the cost, head towards VPN Server SoftEther on the Marketplace page. Then, create the Virtual Network and use the default IPv4 and Subnet options.
After doing so, you should be able to access the VPN on your Microsoft Azure Server and connect to it from your device by either using OpenVPN or SoftEther’s client, both of which are available for free.
Setting up these particular services on Azure is extremely simple and cost-effective at the same time. After you have made your Azure account, the possibilities are endless. These specific solutions are just the tip of the iceberg regarding the number of services you can access and create on the Platform.
Do note that all these features and services will be much cheaper than using commercial VPNs or RDPs and will end up being much more secure in the long-run.