I met Mohamud Ashoor in my travels to Vancouver at various VanTUG events and we regularly chat on IM as well. A few weeks back he was telling me about his home lab setup and how he uses it to sharpen his skills, keep up with technology. In our discussions the topic of a blog post came up as Mohamud has quite the setup. Between Hyper-V, ESXi, Windows Mobile and everything in between. Take a read and let me know about your lab or how you keep up with technology!
Over the past few years I have been working on simulating enterprise level networks in my home lab. The idea was simple. Learn new technologies and at the same time test complex and difficult migrations in a lab before doing it in production. At the earlier days, I started working with Connectix Virtual PC which later became MS Virtual PC as well as VMware Workstation. I have tested these products on my desktop. Virtualization became a mainstream technology and I remember getting a free promotional copy of Virtual Server 2005 Enterprise Edition which later became a free product. I built a lab around Virtual Server 2005 and created some test labs. Microsoft has some step by step instructions on how to build a two node cluster using Virtual Server 2005: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/virtualserver/deploy/cvs2005.mspx
That was one of the labs I created for testing. Others included AD migrations, SQL migrations, Exchange migrations and client operating systems. I was even running Windows 98 SE in a lab to be able to update my Casio Watch, the first MP3 wrist player: http://www.gadgetcentral.com/casiomp3_intro.htm
With the release of Windows Server 2008, I've started to rebuild the entire lab and replace some of the legacy components. I built a lab with a Hyper-V server running AD and DNS, an ESXi server running some Linux and Windows environments and my desktop which is on Windows Vista 32bit and manages the Hyper-V and ESXi environments with the Hyper-V Manager and the VMware Infrastructure Client.
The desktop and the Hyper-V server are within the same domain as well as some downloaded test versions of SCE 2007, SCVMM2008, etc. Microsoft has tons of VHD files that you can evaluate and test high availability features of products without the need of purchasing expensive hardware. The majority of these VHDs were created for Virtual Server 2005 and therefore you would have to convert them to run in Hyper-V which is simple to do. It will mostly require the removal of VM Additions and installing the Integrations Services. An example of one of the images I've downloaded is found here: http://blogs.msdn.com/granth/archive/2008/11/03/converting-vs2010-ctp-to-hyper-v.aspx
If your environment uses Visual Studio Team System 2008, another useful image for testing is the current VHD file which doesn't expire until Dec 31st 2009: http://www.pluralsight.com/community/blogs/brian/archive/2008/12/24/happy-holidays-and-look-what-santa-s-brought.aspx
In my current home lab, I have the following domains:
· TrueG.local (a lab built for my own testing and migrations)
· Contoso.com (VHDs from Microsoft)
· NWTraders.msft (VHDs from Microsoft)
· LitwareInc.com (VHDs from Microsoft)
On the ESXi server, I have a Windows Server 2008 Core edition that provides DHCP services to any client that requires a Dynamic IP. There are more test machines in Hyper-V and the ESXi servers than what is displayed in the diagram.
I completed the SCVMM 2008 setup in the lab this past weekend and divided it into two, the SCVMM2008 server / admin console and the Self-Service Portal. Both are running on virtual machines under Hyper-V and ESXi. The Virtual Machine Manager Configuration Analyzer is a great tool to use before and after the deployment. As many others have experienced, I don't always read the entire deployment documentation and after the SCVMM2008 setup, my Hyper-V had a status of "Needs Attention". Luckily it was blogged on TechNet and only required two updates on the Hyper-V server and a quick reboot: http://blogs.technet.com/keithcombs/archive/2008/10/26/hyper-v-server-needs-attention-after-scvmm-2008-rtm-install.aspx
Continuing on my learning path there are few more features that I would like to test and implement in this lab:
- Running Dell Open Manage Server Administrator on server core (the Hyper-V server). I haven't found a way to run the Dell Open Manage in a server core environment and I'm not sure if it is supported.
- Install Dell OpenManage Management Pack for SCE Operations Manager on SCE 2007 Virtual Server. I want to monitor CPU, Memory, Storage, etc., from the Hyper-V server core server and pass the info to the SCE2007 virtual server.
- Enable Network Load Balancing and/or NIC teaming in the Hyper-V server core server.
- And try 2008 R2 of course….
Mohamud Ashoor is an IT Professional from Vancouver. He is the network administrator of TP Systems Ltd., a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner. TP Systems is software and IT services company focused on government, health care providers and public service organizations. Mohamud works with various Server 2003 and Server 2008 technologies (Exch2007, TFS2008, SQL 2005/2008, TS 2003/2008, Hyper-V, Citrix XenApp, etc.) as well as delivering a broad user experience from the desktop to the data centre. He is very passionate about technology and always delighted to see how it enables people become more productive!