Learn Microsoft Virtualization in Your Own Easy-to-Build Virtual Lab

Virtualization Lab Build Guide

Many of you in the U.S. may be familiar with the Microsoft “IT Camps” that we host now and then, where we teach you some great stuff and then give you the opportunity to work with the technology through hosted hands-on lab exercises.  These free in-person events have become very popular.  They’re so popular, in fact, that our next of IT Camps (kicking off this week) are pretty much all filled to capacity!  (This is why I don’t have a link to share on where to go to register. We’re all full!) 

The labs we’re doing this time involve configuring and driving a highly available virtualization and private cloud platform using Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager.  Our IT Campers will configure storage pools, networking, virtualization hosts, a highly available host cluster, and even virtual machine templates and service templates.  All-in-all there are about four hours of really rich lab work awaiting our IT Camp attendees.

Beyond the fact that these labs were only for our IT Camp attendees, a sad limitation in the timing of the lab.  We could only make the online versions available to you for the day of the event only, and no more.  So invariably at every IT Camp I get comments that go something like this:

“Hey Kevin.. I love these labs, and I’d love to be able to do them again.”  

- OR -

“Hey Kevin, I have other people at my company that would learn so much from these labs.”  

- OR -

“Gosh, Kevin, I wish I could have access to these labs for more than just today.”

And each of these are usually followed by the big question:

“Do you have any instructions on how to build these lab virtual machines so that I can run them on my own hardware?”

Well.. you’re in luck!  For this new set of IT Camps, and even for those of you who are unable to attend, I’ve created a Virtualization Lab Build Guide.

“A Virtualization Lab Build Guide?”

Virtualization Lab Build GuideYes.  I provide easy instructions and PowerShell scripts to help you quickly spin up and configure the 5 virtual machines that are used in the Virtualization lab; the same lab that we’re doing at our IT Camps.  And of course I’m also including the original lab manual; the same one that we’re handing out at our events.  So once you have the machines built, you can go through the labs over and over again to your heart’s content, or quickly spin up training environments for your other co-workers.

“But, what will I need to have to do this?”

For the software on your host machine, you’ll have to be running Windows Server 2012 R2 with the Hyper-V role installed.  The free evaluation installation works just fine. 

In order to be able to run all 5 virtual machines on the same physical box, your server (or like in my case, a Hyper-V-capable spare laptop) will have to have at least 16GB of RAM and at least 200GB of free disk space

The software required to build the virtual machines is all evaluation or free software:

Once downloaded, you just extract the “Virtualization Lab Build Guide.zip” file containing the resources, put the above software installations into the .\Base folder, and run the script that creates the virtual machines. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Full instructions are included in the guide.  Download the Lab Manuals and .ZIP file from my SkyDrive here: Virtualization Lab Build Guide

Virtualization Lab Build Guide

Feel free to send me any feedback or questions, either in the comments on this blog post, or through the contact function (“ E-mail Blog Author ”) on this blog. This is version 1.1, so I definitely expect to be fixing and improving things as I hear from you all. I sincerely hope you will make good use of these resources!

And if it is useful to you, then I’ll be doing more of these in future.