Monday, November 11, 2013

How to build a System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 R2 lab - part 1

In recent weeks Microsoft achieved the general availability (GA) release of three of its major products: Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows 8.1, and System Center 2012 R2. My first consideration on this is that Microsoft is moving very fast toward cloud-oriented solutions and, in most cases, big companies are having a hard time trying to keep up with the pace and with the great amount of features Microsoft is 'injecting' in the market. Take Windows Powershell 4.0, or SMB 3.0, or Data Deduplication, or Windows Azure, or IIS 8.5: system administrators must today strive to stay up-to-date and get set for the Cloud (be it Private or Public) while continuing to maintain their server farms up and running, and, even though some give up, it is my opinion that Microsoft is going the right way and that their recent products (starting from the 2008 R2 series) are rock solid.

I want here to take the occasion to show you how to deploy a full-blown lab based on Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2012 R2 running on top of one of the most useful piece of software I have ever used: VMWare Workstation 10.

I won't go in the details of the hardware configuration for this lab. Know just that all you need is an average VT-capable processor, a lot of memory (16GB, 32GB or even 64GB if you can afford it), and a quite large disk (SSD or not, this doesn't matter, but know that the former will give you a better user experience). I will be using Windows Server 2012 as host operating system, but any recent Microsoft OS will do.

Before I begin, let me tell you something. This lab is heavily Powershell-dependent. Microsoft has invested a lot on this language and you should do the same (in terms of time and engagement) if you want to mess with Windows 2012 R2. PowerShell is in fact Microsoft’s strategic task automation platform, a key component of Microsoft’s overall management strategy. It brings you a scripting environment, a script development tool (the PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment aka ISE) and a huge amount of add-on functionality in the form of modules. So say goodbye to vbs and old style batch files and move forward.

Here's the topology of the lab once we will have gone through the whole procedure:

As you can see this lab requires 6 virtual machines, but if you want you can have more. You could for instance add another domain controller, or more Hyper-V hosts. So I am giving you just a general idea of what your lab should look like, but feel free to adapt it to your needs:
  • : LAB2013AD01 : Active Directory for LAB2013.local
  • : LAB2013HV01 : Hyper-V 01 /
  • : LAB2013HV02 : Hyper-V 02 /
  • : LAB2013ISCSI01 : ISCSI Target Server
  • : LAB2013SQL01 : SQL Server
  • : LAB2013VMM01 : SCVMM 2012 R2
  • : LAB2013CLU01 : Hyper-V Cluster name

To start, get yourself the following sources:
  • VMWare Workstation 10
  • Microsoft Windows 2012 R2
  • Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 R2
  • SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition with Service Pack 1 (x64)
  • System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager
In the next post you'll see how to deploy the Domain Controller of this lab, so stay tuned!

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