Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Lab On A “Budget”

If you’ve read more than a few posts from here over the last few months then you know I have a pretty nice lab at work.  In fact it’s so nice, that Microsoft Ireland has asked us to start a training program for MSFT partners.  So most of the next month will have me prepping crash courses on System Center 2012 and WS2012 Hyper-V.  Then I’ll be delivering training for quite some time.  And that means the lab will be tied up.

Problem: I’m starting on a new project where I need a lab.  I’ve configured the lab at work to flip around in a decent amount of time but it’s painful having to do that … I can get quite a bit of work done during lunch and I don’t want to lose 20 minutes of that while 2 servers POST at the start and the end of the hour.

Circumstances have forced me into buying a small lab for home.  I’ve talked about this for years, and I kept avoiding it … rather successfully Smile  But the time has come, and luckily some recent work will cover the costs, and I work for a distributor so I got parts at trade price.

Here’s the pieces I’ve bought:

  • 2 * HP Elite 8200 tower PCs: i5 Processors and take a max of 16 GB RAM.  I don’t need much VM capacity.
  • 2 * 4 port GB NIC cards: can’t remember the manufacturer.  With the on-board NIC I have 5 NICs to play with.
  • 8 * 4 GB Kingston RAM: Cheaper than HP and I’ll max out the PCs.
  • Netgear 24 port switch

I have a very old home build PC that will get some extra networking to become my SAN.  It might also double as a host for a few other things.  And it will double as a domain controller and RDS Gateway (my ISP won’t allow VPN traffic but inbound HTTPS is OK).

I’ve also added some recycled Netgear wifi NICs into the two HP PCs.

Like in the lab at work, I plan to make the hosts very flexible:

  • Windows 7 Ultimate/Enterprise will go onto the machines.  This will allow me to power them up for normal day-day stuff.
  • They will boot from VHD as well.
  • This will allow me to slip in VHDs for Windows Server 2012 to (a) get very quick clean OS deployments and (b) multipurpose the hardware with multiple builds that I can swap in/out.

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