Deploying Windows Server 2012 R2 Work Folders in a Virtual Machine in Windows Azure

Deploying Windows Server 2012 R2 Work Folders in a Virtual Machine in Windows Azure

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Hi Folks,

Here is another great blog post by Siddhartha Singh , who is one of the senior test leads in the Work Folders team. He has documented the steps required to deploy Work Folders on an Azure VM (IasS). While the process is similar to an on-premise deployment , there are some aspects that need to be taken care of which Sid describes below.

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Overview

This blog post discusses how to set up Work Folders on a virtual machine (VM) in Windows Azure. Work Folders is a new technology in Windows Server 2012 R2 that provides a consistent way for users to access their work files from their PCs and devices. This functionality is powered by the Work Folders service, which is part of the File and Storage Services role.

Using Windows Azure virtual machines allows you to provision infrastructure with a pay-as-you-go model, and benefit from the enterprise grade support and availability. With Windows Azure VMs, you can start with a limited deployment of Work Folders in your enterprise, and then easily scale out to more users as required.

You will find detailed information about Windows Azure virtual machines here:

http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/services/virtual-machines/

 

Create a virtual machine for Work Folders

You can create a virtual machine from the Windows Azure Portal (http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/manage/windows/tutorials/virtual-machine-from-gallery/) by selecting Windows Server 2012 R2.

Establish connectivity to your on-premises network

Once you have a Windows Azure virtual machine running Windows Server 2012 R2 set up for Work Folders, you need to connect the server to your organization’s Active Directory domain so that users can authenticate.

To connect the Work Folders server to your on premise network, use the Windows Azure Virtual Network and configure a site-to-site VPN. This makes the Work Folders VM in Windows Azure part of your network and enables it to communicate directly and securely with your on-premises network. This will allow all clients that are in your on-premises network to sync with the Work Folders VM in Windows Azure.

 More information on Windows Azure Virtual Network can be found here:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windowsazure/jj156007.aspx

 

Here is a diagram of a sample topology, I will use this topology as a reference for the rest of the blog:

In the topology above, the Work Folders server is configured on a virtual machine in Windows Azure, and is connected to the corporate network using Windows Azure Virtual Network’s Site-to-Site VPN, which allows it to be joined to a corporate domain. User devices in the corporate network are able to sync with the Work Folders server just as they would with a server on-premises.

 

Note that in this topology, there is no access to the Work Folders server from outside of the corporate network. For access from the Internet, you can deploy a web reserve proxy, either on-premises, or as a Windows Azure VM. For more details, please refer to the “Designing a Work Folders Implementation” guide at:

http://technet.microsoft.com/library/dn479242.aspx

 

 

Configure storage for the Work Folders virtual machine

To store user data and sync metadata, you have to attach a disk to the virtual machine that is running the Work Folders.

To learn how to do this, follow the instructions here:

http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/manage/windows/how-to-guides/attach-a-disk/

 

Configuring the Work Folders virtual machine

Once the virtual machine is ready, and you have configured cross-premises connectivity, you can join the server to an on-premises domain, and configure a test deployment of Work Folders by following the instructions here:

Deploying Work Folders

Work Folders Test Lab Deployment (blog post)

 

Summary 

Setting up Work Folders servers on Windows Azure virtual machines helps you quickly deploy a solution for your users, without having to purchase and manage additional on-premises hardware, while benefiting from the availability and support SLA that Windows Azure provides. With Windows Azure VMs, you can also grow the size of the deployment over time, as you on-board additional users in your enterprise.

Thanks
Sid

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  • This is all great but how do we make sure Work Folders are available at all times since the VM will not be guaranteed to be available durint Azure maintenance? I can't see how the recommended way to solve this with Availibilty set would help since Failover clustering for the fileserver is not supported in Azure nor DFS-R is supported for this (it isn't for home directories, roaming profiles nor folder redirection and still, DFS-R is not "instant" High Availibility.