Windows Server 2012 home lab preparation

We’ve been criss-crossing this great country of our for a couple of months now delivering IT camps and Windows Server 2012 launch events. You can see the details here and here.image

So far we’ve delivered:

One question we often get is:

can I run these Hands on Labs/ challenges at home?


How did you setup the environment? I’d like to duplicate this environment so I can play with it.”

So I decided to document our setup. This is in no way shape or form a setup that I would recommend in production. This is a setup we configured in order to facilitate the labs using a minimum of hardware to allow up to pack it up and go almost anywhere and deliver the camps without having to depend on internet access or an existing infrastructure.

Hardware & OS

The hardware we have sourced for these type of events are 2 laptops with I7 4 cores Intel processor, 16Gb ram and a 1TB HDD. (Multiple SSD drives are recommended for better performance but it not required)

clip_image002My home ITCamp Lab environment


We setup the machines to boot using a VHD files that allows us to wipe the machine and run the camps over and over again without needing to rebuild our images all the time. A great way to setup your Boot from VHD is available here. You can find the Evaluation bits of Windows Server 2012 (ISO and VHD) here.

For the SCVMM machine you have to download the “System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 Beta – Virtual Machine Manager – Evaluation (VHD)” and you can find it here.


This is the easy one.

One cross-over cable between both machines. We use a private IP address space (

 We end up at the end of the camp with 6 machines (virtual and physical). You can build them as you go or pre-configure them it’s up to you. ( i prefer to have a syspreped image i can just copy and import in Hyper-v and configure it for whatever is needed.)

  1. VMhost10a – physical,
  2. VMHost10B – physical,
  3. ITCAMP-DC1 - Virtual,
  4. ITCAMP-DC2- Virtual,
  5. ITCAMP-SMB - Virtual,
  6. ITCAMP-SCVMM - Virtual,

At the start of the camp here is what the logical representation looks like.

imageWe finish the day with something like this.

imageThere are many more scenarios we can explore.  Once we have the lab, it’s easy to start experimenting.


Camp Agenda

From there we’re ready to go through the labs and challenges and move towards a private cloud.

On the way there we look at the following items.


What is learned

Hands-On Experience

Overview of Windows Server 2012

How Windows Server 2012 helps optimize your infrastructure


Overview of Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V and VM Migration

How to configure and manage Hyper-V, How Hyper-V can be scaled and Shared- Nothing Live Migration

Enable the Hyper-V role, import virtual machine and complete a Shared-Nothing Live Migration


How to add capacity to your infrastructure

Configure virtual machine start-up properties and configure a file share.

Storage Spaces

How to configure and manage storage

Create a storage pool & thin disk, create SMB share for apps & iSCSI target, configure iSCSI access from hosts and migrate VM storage to SMB share.

High Availability

How to configure and manage a cluster

Verify cluster configuration, create a cluster, configure Cluster Shared Volume and migrate VM to a Cluster Shared Volume.

Overview of System Center 2012

How System Center 2012 and Windows Server 2012 work together and Virtual Machine Manager.

Install SCVMM agent on cluster, Add VMM library location, create a cloud in SCVMM 2012, and create a highly-available VM on cloud.

Windows Server 2012 Final Thoughts

Hyper-V replica, QoS bandwidth, NIC teaming, Hyper-V extensible switch, ODX support, PowerShell, multi- tenancy, network virtualization, metering.

Make existing VM highly available, break cluster & see results

We are currently planning how we’re going to take the camp experience from an in-person event to an online virtual learning experience. So stay tuned.

I encourage you all to start building your lab.  We will be coming back with online content you can take advantage of very soon.




Pierre Roman, MCITP , ITIL | IT Pro AdvisorTwitter | Facebook | LinkedIn