Our New Lab At Work

My job is much like that of a Partner Technical Advisor (PTA) in Microsoft.  I work for a distributor and I work with our customers, the Microsoft partners who purchase licenses from us to sell to their customers.  My focus is on System Center and Forefront, with some Office365 and Intune thrown into the mix.  System Center is the big one, and more often than not, Hyper-V leads to System Center.  Things like Windows and Office are also very important revenue items to us.

I’ve got to keep my skills up and I need a lab.  We also wanted something to demonstrate System Center 2012, Windows 8, Hyper-V, etc, on to our customers, as well as being able to be in a position to aid them with proof of concept work.  The “beast” as I have dubbed my mobile workstation is good as a mobile lab but I can’t really do any of the work that you might have seen me blog about recently.  I needed something bigger.  So this is what we’ve put together:


Everything is from HP.  I’ve got DL360 G7s for the two clustered hosts.  My management host (where my System Center runs in VMs and where I keep the library) is a DL380 G7.  The storage box is a DL370 G7; we have a HP P4000 (lefthand) VSA (virtual appliance) on there.  That provides iSCSI storage directly to clustered hosts and/or to a SOFS built using VMs running on the storage host.  The network is completely isolated.  I’m remotely accessing it from the computer room via wi-fi and it has a dedicated ADSL line.  With any luck, I’ll be able to remotely access the environment from home or from customer sites.

Networking was very important to me.  And that’s why we installed a 10 GbE HP Procurve switch and 4 * 10 GbE ports in each Hyper-V host.  There’s also a 1 GbE switch and the 4 * 1 GbE ports are also patched in.  So both Hyper-V hosts have 44 GbE of cumulative bandwidth; I reckon SMB 2.2 should run OK on that Smile

First in my sights is, of course, Windows Server 8 Hyper-V, followed quickly by ConfigMgr 2012 for the upcoming System Center launch events in Dublin and Belfast.

2 thoughts on “Our New Lab At Work”

  1. Hey Aidan

    Very similar to our lab setup except we went for 2 x Dell R610’s, 2 x Dell 6420 PowerConnects and an MD3200i SAN for storage. Our management Hyper-V host is a Dell Optiplex (only the best!!) desktop.

    Question : do you have DPM 2012 set up as well as an HA VM? Just having some issues with pass through CSV disks not being recognised in DPM.



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