Sunday 6 November 2016

Creating Windows images on Azure Resource Manager with Packer

Building from the last post about creating infrastructure on Azure Resource Manager with Terraform, I wanted to try out packer on the platform for creating Windows Server images.

Getting this running requires the following:

  1. choco install -y packer - or manually download and install on windows machine
  2. Set up application and permissions in Azure
  3. Add the required environment variables
  4. Create json file for packer
  5. packer build windows-example.json

In much the same way as Terraform, you will need to create an application in Azure and assign permissions so that Packer can create resources to build your image.

Unfortunately the official packer script for auth setup doesn't work for me and the commands on the site are specific to Linux. I created a PowerShell script that will create the relevant objects in Azure for authorisation. If you want to manually create these objects you will need to follow the packer documentation here.

Once the API keys have been loaded into environment variables, I created the an example Windows build json file. An important thing to note is the winrm communicator section in the file, without it the build will fail. There is also an official packer example file here.

Packer requires a resource group and storage account to store your completed images. These can be created any way you choose but will need to be there for the build to complete successfully.

Once the file has been created, run the build with

    packer build .\windows-example.json

Packer should then build a keystore and VM in a temporary resource group, run any provisioners configured and then output build artifacts ready to use as a vm template. Once the template is created, you will be given a path to a vhd and an Azure json template for building VMs.

All scripts and files can be found on my GitHub.

Next step for this is to use Terraform to build a VM from the custom image.

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