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Today I am excited to announce the private preview of Azure VM Image Builder, a service which allows users to have an image building pipeline in Azure. Creating standardized virtual machine (VM) images allow organizations to migrate to the cloud and ensure consistency in the deployments. Users commonly want VMs to include predefined security and configuration settings as well as application software they own. However, setting up your own image build pipeline would require infrastructure and setup. With Azure VM Image Builder, you can take an ISO or Azure Marketplace image and start creating your own golden images in a few steps.
How it works
Azure VM Image Builder lets you start with either a Linux-based Azure Marketplace VM or Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) ISO and begin to add your own customizations. Your customizations can be added in the form of a shell script, and because the VM Image Builder is built on HashiCorp Packer, you can also import your existing Packer shell provisioner scripts. As the last step, you specify where you would like your images hosted, either in the Azure Shared Image Gallery or as an Azure Managed Image. See below for a quick video on how to create a custom image using the VM Image Builder.
For the private preview, we are supporting these key features:
- Migrating an existing image customization pipeline to Azure. Import your existing shell scripts or Packer shell provisioner scripts.
- Migrating your Red Hat subscription to Azure using Red Hat Cloud Access. Automatically create Red Hat Enterprise Linux VMs with your eligible, unused Red Hat subscriptions.
- Integration with Azure Shared Image Gallery for image management and distribution
- Integration with existing CI/CD pipeline. Simplify image customization as an integral part of your application build and release process as shown here:
If you are attending Microsoft Ignite, feel free to join us at breakout session BRK3193 to learn more about this service.
Frequently asked questions
Will Azure VM Image Builder support Windows?
For private preview, we will support Azure Marketplace Linux images (specifically Ubuntu 16.04 and 18.04). Support for Windows VM is on our roadmap.
Can I integrate Azure VM Image Builder into my existing image build pipeline?
You can call the VM Image Builder API from your existing tooling.
Is VM Image Builder essentially Packer as a Service?
The VM Image Builder API shares similar style to Packer manifests, and is optimized to support building images for Azure, supporting Packer shell provisioner scripts.
Do you support image lifecycle management in the preview?
For private preview, we will only support creation of images, but not ongoing updates. The ability to update an existing custom image is on our roadmap.
How much does VM Image Builder cost?
For private preview, Azure VM Image Builder is free. Azure Storage used by images are billed at standard pricing rates.
Sign up today for the private preview
I hope you sign up for the private preview and give us feedback. Register and we will begin sending out more information in October.