I’ve previously posted about the Office 365, Azure Active Directory and Intune integration with Windows Server 2016 Essentials Technical Preview 3, now it’s time to start looking at some of the other Azure integration pieces, starting with the Azure Virtual Network integration. Before taking a look at what’s required to get this working, it’s worth discussing what the scenarios might be for leveraging this capability. Simply put, if you need to extend your network into the Azure for the purpose of enabling Azure RemoteApp, virtual machines running a variety of OSs and applications, as well as a variety of other services, this will provide seamless access to the Azure hosted resources from your local network. In this post I’ll focus on the Essentials Dashboard configuration, and in the next post I’ll show what’s happening on the Azure management portal.

Starting here with a fresh installation, you can see that Azure Virtual Network integration is disabled, but on the right hand side I can choose Integrate with Azure Virtual Network.

This will launch the download and installation of the Microsoft Service Integration Package, which should be a quick process.

Once that has completed, you get the option to Restart Dashboard, which again is fairly quick.

When the Dashboard restarts you are presented with the Sign in to Microsoft Azure screen.

In TP3 I have found that I cannot use my Microsoft Account sign in, and instead have to use a work or school account (aka Azure Active Directory) to sign in. If you normally sign in to your Azure tenant with a Microsoft Account, you can create a new user in the default directory and assign them rights to the Azure subscription so that you can sign in those Azure AD new credentials instead.

Once the credentials are entered we have to authorise access to Azure.

We are then presented with the subscriptions drop down box. This account only has access to one subscription, so I’ll just accept the default.

Now we get to start making some choices around whether we are going to use an existing local network and Azure virtual network or create new ones, and if we are creating a new Azure Virtual Network which Azure datacenter do we want it in.

For this post I’ll just create a new Azure Virtual Network in Australia East (aka Sydney) and create a new Local network.

We now get to set up the VPN device, in this case I will host it directly on the Essentials server, but I could set it up on another Windows Server 2012 or later on the network. Alternatively, if I have VPN hardware that is compatible with Azure I could use that instead.

And with that we have created an Azure Virtual Network, and established connectivity through to it.

Once I close the wizard you can see that Azure Virtual Network is now shown as enabled. In the next post I’ll switch over to the Azure management portal where I will provision a new virtual machine into the virtual network and then join it to the on-premises domain.