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Deploying Pexip Infinity on Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines

The Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines (VMs) service provides scalable computing capacity in the Microsoft Azure cloud. Using Azure eliminates your need to invest in hardware up front, so you can deploy Pexip Infinity even faster.

You can use Azure to launch as many or as few virtual servers as you need, and use those virtual servers to host a Pexip Infinity Management Node and as many Conferencing Nodes as required for your Pexip Infinity platform.

Azure enables you to scale up or down to handle changes in requirements or spikes in conferencing requirements. You can also use the Azure APIs and the Pexip Infinity management API to monitor usage and bring up / tear down Conferencing Nodes as required to meet conferencing demand.

Pexip publishes disk images for the Pexip Infinity Management Node and Conferencing Nodes. These images may be used to launch instances of each node type as required.

This flowchart provides an overview of the basic steps involved in deploying the Pexip Infinity platform on Azure:

Deployment models

Azure has two deployment models: Classic and Resource Manager.

Resource Manager is the recommended deployment model for new workloads and is the only model supported by Pexip Infinity.

Deployment options

There are three main deployment options for your Pexip Infinity platform when using the Azure cloud:

  • Private cloud: all nodes are deployed within Azure. Private addressing is used for all nodes and connectivity is achieved by configuring a VPN tunnel from the corporate network to Azure. As all nodes are private, this is equivalent to an on-premises deployment which is only available to users internal to the organization.
  • Public cloud: all nodes are deployed within Azure. All nodes have a private address but, in addition, public IP addresses are allocated to each node. The node's private addresses are only used for inter-node communications. Each node's public address is then configured on the relevant node as a static NAT address. Access to the nodes is permitted from the public internet, or a restricted subset of networks, as required. Any systems or endpoints that will send signaling and media traffic to those Pexip Infinity nodes must send that traffic to the public address of those nodes. If you have internal systems or endpoints communicating with those nodes then you must ensure that your local network allows this.
  • Hybrid cloud: the Management Node, and optionally some Conferencing Nodes, are deployed in the corporate network. A VPN tunnel is created from the corporate network to Azure. Additional Conferencing Nodes are deployed in Azure and are managed from the on-premises Management Node. The Azure-hosted Conferencing Nodes can be either internally-facing, privately-addressed (private cloud) nodes; or externally-facing, publicly-addressed (public cloud) nodes; or a combination of private and public nodes (where the private nodes are in a different Pexip Infinity system location to the public nodes).

Limitations

The following limitations currently apply:

  • The OS username is always admin, regardless of any other username configured through the Azure Portal.

  • SSH keys are the preferred authentication mechanism for Pexip Infinity instances hosted in the Azure Cloud. Password-based authentication also works, however, and will use the password provisioned at instance deployment time.

    Note that:

    • Pexip Infinity node instances only support a single SSH key pair.
    • If you are using a Linux or Mac SSH client to access your instance you must use the chmod command to make sure that your private key file on your local client (SSH private keys are never uploaded) is not publicly viewable. For example, if the name of your private key file is my-key-pair.pem, use the following command: chmod 400 /path/my-key-pair.pem

    See https://azure.microsoft.com/en-gb/documentation/articles/virtual-machines-linux-ssh-from-windows/ for more information about using SSH on Azure.

Recommended instance types and call capacity guidelines

Azure instances come in many different sizes. In general, Pexip Infinity Conferencing Nodes should be considered compute intensive and Management Nodes reflect a more general-purpose workload.

For deployments of up to 20 Conferencing Nodes, we recommend using:

  • a Standard A2 instance for a Management Node
  • a Standard D4 v2 instance for Conferencing Nodes

This should provide capacity for approximately 15 HD / 36 SD / 180 audio-only calls per Conferencing Node.

Capacity planning

By default, Azure Resource Manager limits each location to a maximum of 10 CPU cores per core type. This quota is shared among all instances of that core type in the location. Standard D4 v2 instances use 8 CPU cores of type Dv2. Thus, with the default limits in place, only a single Standard D4 v2 instance may be deployed (as only 2 CPU cores will remain in the quota pool, which is insufficient for another Standard D4 v2 instance).

The allocated quota may be increased by opening a support ticket with Microsoft via the Azure Portal. Ensure that you request a sufficient number of CPU cores for the relevant core type. For example, if 10 Conferencing Nodes are required, then the quota must be increased to 8 cores x 10 Standard D4 v2 instances = 80 CPU cores of type Dv2. It may take a number days for the quota increase request to be processed.

IP addressing

Within a Virtual Network, private IP addresses may be allocated dynamically (using DHCP) or statically, by defining an instance's IP address at launch time. After a private IP address has been assigned to an instance, it will remain associated with that instance until the instance is terminated. The allocated IP address is displayed in the Azure portal.

Public IP addresses may be associated with an instance. Public IPs may dynamic (allocated at launch/start time) or statically configured. Dynamic public IP addresses do not remain associated with an instance if it is stopped — and thus it will receive a new public IP address when it is next started.

Pexip Infinity nodes must always be configured with the private IP address associated with its instance. To associate the instance's public IP address with the node, configure that public IP address as the node's Static NAT address (via Platform configuration > Conferencing Nodes).

Assumptions and prerequisites

The deployment instructions assume that within Azure you have already:

  • signed up for Azure and created a user account, administrator groups etc.
  • decided in which Azure location to deploy your Pexip Infinity platform (one Management Node and one or more associated Conferencing Nodes)
  • created a Resource Group, Virtual Network, and Storage Account in the chosen Azure location
  • (if necessary) configured a VPN tunnel from the corporate/management network to the Azure Virtual Network
  • created a Network Security Group (see Configuring Azure Network Security Groups for port requirements)

For more information on setting up your Azure Virtual Machine environment, see https://azure.microsoft.com/en-gb/documentation/articles/virtual-machines-linux-about/.

Pexip Infinity node instances that are hosted on Azure may be deployed across multiple Azure Virtual Networks (VNets), where each Azure VNet (and the Conferencing Nodes within it) maps onto a Pexip Infinity system location. See https://azure.microsoft.com/en-gb/documentation/articles/vpn-gateway-howto-vnet-vnet-resource-manager-portal/ for information about how to create a connection between VNets in the Resource Manager deployment model by using VPN Gateway and the Azure portal.

To look at a detailed worked example of the steps required to set up your Microsoft Azure environment and deploy Pexip Infinity, see http://www.graham-walsh.com/2016/05/deploying-pexip-azure-part-one/.

To deploy and manage your Pexip Infinity platform nodes see: