Log on to Azure or Create Account
The first step to creating your instance is of course to log into Microsoft Azure’s portal by going to portal.azure.com. This will bring up a Microsoft account login screen. If you have an account already, provide your credentials.
If you do not yet have an account, you can create one by visiting azure.microsoft.com, and selecting ‘Free Account’. Following the prompts will lead you to a similar login screen. Provide the email address you wish to use for your new account. Upon clicking the password field, a search will be conducted against the existing accounts, and if it cannot find an existing account with the selected email address, you will see a prompt to get a new Microsoft Account.
Fill in the required information, and create the account.
Note: The account creation process will request phone verification or credit card information for verification and billing purposes. Whether limiting yourself to free services, or taking advantage of Azure’s new customer credit incentive, this information is still required. Your account will not have active subscriptions required for instance creation without this information.
Once you have your account created, return to portal.azure.com, and log in with your new credentials.
Adding a Service Administrator Account
Before adding block storage, it is important to note that you will require a properly configured service administrator account to connect storage from within the UI. Without these credentials, the storage accounts you require will not be available. We find it makes later configuration simpler if the accounts required are created ahead of time.
To create a Service Admin account
To ensure you have a valid service administrator account, log into the classic Azure Management Portal with your administrative credentials:
Once logged in, select Active Directory from the left-side menu.
Find the Default Directory (or the directory you are using) and select it as shown below.
From Default Directory, select Users.
Find Add User at the bottom of the screen. Select it.
A wizard will open. Enter your desired email and click the Next Arrow.
In the User Profile screen of the wizard, do the following:
- Enter your name and a display name.
- Specify the role of the user. Select Service Admin.
- Click the Next Arrow.
Copy the temporary password, and click the check mark to complete the wizard.
Log out of the administrative account, then log back in with the new user and temporary password. You’ll be prompted to create your own password. Sign in to establish the new password as shown below.
As you can see, you will need a subscription added to your new account. The subscription/s from your Administrative Account must be associated. Sign out, then sign in once more with your original administrative account.
Once logged back in, go to Settings from the left-side menu.
Select Administrators, and click Add.
Type the email address of the service administrator account. This will call up the account. Ensure the subscriptions you will need are checked off, and click Next.
Now that we know we have a service account properly configured, we can now access the storage accounts needed to add block storage from within the SoftNAS UI.
Creating A Storage Account
To add storage disks of any variety to your SoftNAS instance, you will need to create at least one storage account. Creating MSFT or Blob disks require different storage account types. To leverage more than the 500 TB per storage account limit, you will need to create several blob storage accounts. When creating your multiple blob storage accounts, you must then decide whether to leverage hot or cold storage. You cannot mix hot and cold storage within a pool, but you can provide more than one pool. In other words, you will need to know what configuration you intend to create, and plan your storage accounts accordingly. One SoftNAS Cloud® on Azure instance can potentially require many storage accounts.
To add a storage account:
- Log into the Azure Portal with your administrative credentials.
- Select More Services at the bottom of the left-hand side menu, and select Storage Accounts.
- Provide a name for the storage account, select Resource Manager (classic is not supported for HA configurations) and select the type of account you wish to create. For this POC we will be creating a General Purpose account. General purpose is block storage, Blob Storage is object storage. Additional information on Blob Storage accounts (and Hot and Cool storage) can be found in the Project Planning: Storage section.
Next, select Standard or Premium.
- Standard Storage Accounts are backed by magnetic drives, and offer an affordable option for data that is accessed infrequently, such as archive databases.
- Premium storage accounts are backed by solid state drives and offer consistent, low-latency performance. They can only be used with Azure virtual machine disks, and are best for I/O-intensive applications, like databases. This setting can't be changed after the storage account is created. Note as well that Premium storage comes in set disk sizes - 128 GB, 512 GB, and 1024GB.
Determine the best option based on your needs.
Important: When creating your instance, be aware of these account types, as you will be making a decision between these options when creating your instance. The type of storage account that can be provisioned for your instance is determined by a selection made at instance creation -VM Disk type.
SSD will ensure your SoftNAS Cloud Instance is provisioned for Premium storage accounts, and HDD will enable your instance to use Standard storage accounts.
For Replication, select Locally-redundant storage from the drop-down. Other options will work, but have not been fully tested, and may result in latency issues as data can span multiple locations.
Finally, if you have more than one subscription, select the correct one.
Also, select Create New for resource group, and provide a name, then select a location. Note this resource group, as you must use it when creating your instance, to have your storage accounts available when adding storage.
Once selections have been made, select Create. You now have a new storage account, which can be used to add storage to your SoftNAS Cloud® Instance.
Note: Multiple storage accounts can be created for and used within a single SoftNAS instance. If you wish to leverage Blob storage (whether Hot or Cool), or use both Standard and Premium disks in your SoftNAS Cloud® deployment, simply create additional storage accounts within the same resource group.