Series: Building a SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn Virtual Lab


In this series of posts I will share how to build a virtual development & test lab for the purpose of experiencing the process of implementing the new SQL Server 2012 "Denali" high-availability and disaster recovery features.  What's more, this lab can then be used to explore some of SQL Server 2012's other other new features.  Since many of us do not have our own rack full server hardware, including storage area network (SAN) devices, I will demonstrate the process of hosting the entire lab in a Windows 2008 R2 Hyper-V host Boot-to-VHD server environment.  For the purpose of enhancing its reusablility I will break the process of creating this lab into the following separate posts:

  1. Create a Hyper-V Host System Using Boot-to-VHD
  2. Create a Windows 2008 R2 Hyper-V Lab Network
  3. Create a Virtual Shared Storage Solution in a Hyper-V Lab
  4. Create a Windows 2008 R2 Failover Cluster in a Hyper-V Lab
  5. Configure a SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn Cluster for High-Availability Support
  6. Configure SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn Availability Groups for Disaster Recovery Support

What You Will Need

In order to complete the exercises described in this series you will need the following software.

Of course, if you have an MSDN or TechNet Subscription, you could choose to download the software from those sources instead.


This series will assume the reader commands at least a basic familiarity with the following technologies:

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 administration and configuration
  • Hyper-V Administration
  • Networking concepts, tools and procedures
  • Domain Name Services (DNS)
  • Active Directory Domain Services (AD-DS)
  • iSCSI Software Target 3.3
  • iSCSI Initiator
  • Failover Clustering (WSFC)
  • SQL Server Administration

Although detailed step-by-step instructions will be provided for each activity, and the reader will develop skills using many of the above technologies, certain gaps will inevitably ocurr that cannot be foreseen.


This series of posts has demonstrated using a broad suite of technologies to help you build your own virtual labs. The process featured implementing Windows 2008 R2's "Boot-to-VHD" capability to make maximum use of underlying hardware resources, using Windows 2008 R2's Hyper-V role to host a virtual network, using Windows Storage Server's capability to simulate iSCSI storage in a virtual lab, implementing a Windows Server 2008 R2 Failover Cluster, installing a SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn high-availability cluster, and configuring SQL Server 2012's AlwaysOn Availability Groups (AGs).