Build a lab in Windows Azure for learning PowerShell 3

I need to practice what I preach.

For years I have stood in front of IT administrators and told them “You need to learn PowerShell!”. All the while I have refused to learn it myself. Well, refused is a little harsh….more like I just have not dedicated any real time to doing it. I know enough to be dangerous as they say, but I am not a day-to-day admin so I have used that as an excuse to avoid going very deep into PowerShell. Time to change that.

I am a GUI guy and have been since the 80’s when I started using GEOS on my Apple //gs. GUI’s are generally easy to understand, simple to explore without getting into too much trouble and get basic admin tasks done. But as every IT Admin already knows, automating the GUI for repetitive tasks just doesn’t work. The most basic task of creating a 1/2 dozen new users takes time that today’s admin just doesn’t have enough of. PowerShell can not only automate these tasks, but also remove some aspects of human error with could further slow down day-to-day activities.

Well, it’s finally time for me to start working with PowerShell on a daily basis so I don’t feel like a hypocrite in front of my audiences. I recently bought “Learn Windows PowerShell 3 In A Month Of Lunches” by Don Jones and Jeffery D. Hicks and I am on Day 2 of the book. Even though I do know some of the basics, I am choosing to follow the advice of the authors and consume the book in daily doses (I cheated and combined Day 1+2 since I already has PowerShell ISE installed

If you have this book and have not started yet, I encourage you to jump in with me an spend the month of August learning PowerShell 3. If you don’t have the book, order it, and play catch up. I probably won’t be doing the book on weekends so there will be plenty of opportunity to catch up or even get ahead.


I have decided to use Windows Azure as my lab environment because it is the fastest and most accessible way for me to work on this from anywhere in the world. I travel a lot so I want to be able to access the lab while on the road. This is a self-contained lab environment that for right now is just for my PowerShell learning. But it has the potential to be used for other lab scenarios and is completely expandable.

To create the lab environment, we have to build out a few different pieces -

Part 1 of 3 – Speed Build a Virtual Network

Part 2 of 3 - Create the base Virtual Machines (we will use 3 for our base lab)

Part 3 of 3 - Configure the Virtual Machines – One (1) Domain Controller and Two (2) Domain Joined Member Servers

Each of these is a unique blog post, all of which have already been written and will post each morning of this week bright and early at 7am Pacific starting tomorrow, August 1st, 2012. So, by the end of this week you will have a lab in place, and hopefully have the PowerShell book in hand so we can start learning PowerShell!

Starting Friday, August 2nd, 2013 I will try to make daily summary post of my learnings with some tidbits to help anyone else that will be learning along with me.

If you want to get a jump on things, you can go ahead and get started with your Free Windows Azure Trail account now -

Sign up for a Free Windows Azure account here –

Seeya bright and early every day this week!