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InfoQ Homepage News Azure VM Image Builder Service Now Generally Available

Azure VM Image Builder Service Now Generally Available

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Azure has recently announced the general availability of Azure VM Image Builder service, the managed service built on HashiCorp Packer to create Linux or Windows virtual machine images and be compliant with security policies across Azure and Azure Stack.

Particularly useful for enterprise cloud migrations, Azure VM Image Builder allows developers to use a template to create their images, adding configuration information such as a base source image, customizations and information in which regions the new image should be distributed. It can be integrated in existing image build pipelines, using Azure DevOps or other tools, and shares similar syntax to Packer manifests supporting Packer shell provisioner scripts. Michael Yen-Chi Ho, Linux on Azure product marketing manager at Microsoft, highlights the challenges of building an image without the new service and why automating all tasks including patching and updating is important:

Image building has always been an important yet complex process; you start with collecting the requirements from different teams within your organization, and then you need to start building the image configuration tooling and set up the right infrastructure to support the implementation of making a new custom golden image. Finally, if you were to build many images at once, an automation configuration is needed so you can get everything in the funnel and start working.

Among the most common scenarios for using Azure VM Image Builder Service, the cloud provider suggests streamlining Linux or Windows image creation process, integrating core applications and configurations, patching and updating existing images, distributing images globally with the Azure Shared Image Gallery and integrating with existing image building pipelines. In a separate article, the cloud provider shows how to create a Windows Virtual Desktop image using Azure VM Image Builder and PowerShell.


The GA of the service was significantly delayed: announced as a private preview for Linux almost three years ago, Azure VM Image Builder was supposed to be generally available by the end of 2020. Microsoft is not the only cloud provider supporting building images for multiple platforms, with Amazon offering EC2 Image Builder and Google documenting how to build VM images on Google Cloud using HCP Packer.

Azure VM Image Builder can be accessed using the Azure portal, Azure CLI, PowerShell, and Azure DevOps. Tutorials are available to build a Linux custom image, a Window custom image and to create an Azure VM Image Builder template. Customers using Azure VM Image Builder Service do not pay directly for the service itself but they are charged for underline compute, networking, and storage resources used during the image creation.

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