Getting Started in a SQL Server 2017 VM in Azure

You say you’re ready to dip your toes in the Azure ocean? Come on in, the water’s fine!

Oh, you want to really dip your toes. You’re starting with Virtual Machines? OK. I guess. It’s not where the real excitement is. You should be checking out Azure SQL Database and Azure SQL Data Warehouse and CosmosDb and… VMs. OK. Let’s get you started.

Set up Azure First

Microsoft maintains seriously good documentation on how to work with Azure. I’m honestly blown away by how much information there is and how well written it is. In fact, everything I’m about to tell you is documented better, here. However, I’m going to give you the TLDR version.

First, you have to have an Azure account. If you have an MSDN license, that gets you, depending on the type of license, some amount of free Azure credits. Use that to set up your account.

I’ll wait.

Creating a SQL Server 2017 VM in Azure


Here we go. After you log into the portal, right at the very top of the screen on the portal is a + sign. Click it. That will open a blade (that’s what the little windows are called).

There’s a search icon (magnifying glass) next to an input box. Type this in the box (minus the quotes): “sql server 2017 developer”.

You’ll see a drop down with a variety of operating systems supporting a VM with SQL Server 2017 on it. Pick one. For me, Windows was the bottom one, but you might see something different.

You’ll see a window with licensing information. Ignore it. At the bottom of the screen is a button. Click it.

Fill out the basics. Give your server a name. Supply a user name and password (and remember these). Create a new resource group (always put your work into discrete resource groups. This is because when you’re done, you can drop the group and it drops all the stuff inside of it, makes clean up from dev & test easy). Define a location. Doesn’t have to be close to you, but it doesn’t hurt. Click OK.

You’re on your own for this step. You have to pick your service level. If all you’re doing is mucking about with SQL Server and you’re not exploring all that Azure offers, max this out to your monthly limit. Click on the words “View all” over on the right to get a full listing of all the sizes of machines available. Pick one. Click Select.

The next blade is Settings. You can leave the defaults in place here (yes, tons to experiment with, but if we’re just going after SQL Server 2017 VM, I’m fast tracking you). Click OK.

SQL Server settings can also be left at the defaults. Click OK.

You’ll see a summary of all the choices you made. Click Create.

Wait a bit. At the very top of the screen There’s a little bell icon. When your VM is ready, it’ll tell you there. You can click on the VM and it should open in a new blade. At the top of that blade, on the left, is Connect. Click that. It’ll download an RDP connection. Use your login and password that you created earlier “.\username”.

Robert is your mother’s brother at this point. You’ll be inside a VM (windows presumably) and you’ll have a running version of SQL Server 2017 and, as I write this, Version 17.4 of SSMS installed and waiting. It’ll have SSAS and SSIS installed and running too. Everything you need.


I count nine steps before you have the SQL Server 2017 VM created. Three steps after that to get connected. Therefore, you have a total of 12 steps to have a fully functioning VM running SQL Server 2017 Developer Edition. Several of those steps were the equivalent of clicking “Next” on a wizard. No more excuses. Get out there and start learning.


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