Step-by-Step: Build Your Cloud with System Center 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012 R2, Hyper-V and Microsoft Azure

April 11, 2014: Updated to include additional resources ...

Now, take Build Your Cloud on-the-go with Windows Phone!

Are you virtualizing your servers? Yes, of course!

Are you spending less time managing your servers as a result?  Hmm … No!

Server Virtualization is Great, But …

imageServer virtualization has been a great set of technologies to reduce our capital expenses and some operating expenses by consolidating a larger number of virtualized server workloads in a smaller footprint of physical rack space.  As a result, we’ve been able to purchase less data center hardware and likely have lower power and cooling costs in running our data center.

However, most IT Pros are not seeing a reduction in the amount of time they spend with day-to-day management of server operating systems and applications.  Let face it … whether you have 100 physical servers or 100 virtual servers, you still have 100 server operating system instances to administer, configure, monitor, patch and update.  In fact, because of reduced capital costs when using server virtualization, many IT Pros report that they are now faced with managing a much larger ( and growing ) number of operating system instances and applications – these days, it seems like everyone in the company wants their own VMs!  As a result, IT Pros are forced to spend most of their day managing VMs and applications, and often don’t have enough time to spend on improving their IT environments.

Hybrid Cloud … To The Rescue!

Well, Hybrid Cloud is the answer! Hybrid Cloud is not a product, but rather an approach for designing, implementing and managing your data center resources and application workloads by reducing complexity, increasing standardization and automation, and provide elasticity – the ability to easily scale your data center up, down, in or out – to support evolving business and technical requirements. 

Hybrid Cloud applies the same principles used for scaling and managing the world’s largest public clouds to your private data center environment, augmented by public cloud infrastructure where is makes good sense for your particular application workloads.  Now, you can have your very own cloud!

Build Your Cloud – The Series

My fellow Technical Evangelists and I have authored a content series that steps through building your very own Cloud by leveraging Windows Server 2012 R2, our FREE Hyper-V Server 2012 R2, Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Services ( IaaS ) and System Center 2012 R2

Week-by-week, we walk through the steps to envision, plan and implement your very own Cloud to take your existing data center to the next level and give you the tools and time back in your day for improving IT services and being able to change and shift with your business / IT needs.

Below is the weekly breakdown of each topic that we've written in this series to help you build your own Cloud ...

WEEK 0 - Get ready to follow along!

Get prepared to follow along with our content series by downloading Windows Server 2012 R2, the FREE Hyper-V Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, and Windows Azure.  Once you have these components, you’ll be ready to follow along with us as we build your Private Cloud together!

WEEK 1 – Build Your Private Cloud Foundation with Windows Server 2012 R2

WEEK 2 – Building Your Private Cloud Fabric with System Center 2012 R2

WEEK 3 – Configuring and Optimizing Your Private Cloud with System Center 2012 R2

WEEK 4 – Deploying and Servicing Applications in Your Private Cloud with System Center 2012 SP1

CONGRATULATIONS! But ... Let's Keep Going ...

You've built your Private Cloud, but you've still got to manage, protect and grow it as your business evolves.  Over the next few weeks, you'll learn to extend your base Private Cloud fabric and prepare for MCSE Private Cloud certification ...

WEEK 5 – Extending and Protecting Your Private Cloud

WEEK 6 -  Managing Hybrid Clouds, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuance

WEEK 7+: Study and Get Certified on Private Cloud

Prepare for the MCSE: Private Cloud certification exams with these popular FREE exam study guides:

How are you building your Cloud?

Do you have tips, questions or comments on building your own Cloud? Feel free to share below in the comments section!

See you in the clouds!

- Keith

Comments (16)
  1. Anonymous says:

    Great Article!!

    by pure coincidence I was thinking about to put in real practice (not just text/theory) all this Private Cloud talk and knowledge. Unfortunately due to the infrastructure complexity of my work place, my access to servers and datacenters is limited and I'm not able to create a real test lab to demonstrate how SC 2012 is able to manage server infrastructure for the Private Cloud. My plan is to get six or seven desktops (most likely old desktop computers) and build a "multi vendor mini datacenter" where I'll be deploying: Hyper-V 2008 R2, Hyper-V 2012, Citrix XenServer, VMware ESXi, and DCs. Lucky me I came across this article and this article definitely will help me accomplish my goal. Since I was one of the "Early Expert" blog follower and certified (I am very proud of my Early Expert Cert) I am familiar with Keith's work and teachings. I will post the progress of my plan as I build my private cloud by following this blog series.

    Keith, thank you very much for sharing your knowledge. đŸ™‚

  2. KeithMayer says:

    Hi Neil,

    Never fear! Remote Desktop Services is alive and well in Windows Server 2012 and has been substantially enhanced to improve performance and scalability.  Now, when installing on a server in a workgroup, there are some special considerations due to the new version of RDS including integrated support for components, such as the Remote Desktop Connection Broker, that normally do require AD.  I'd highly recommend learning a bit about AD, as in your 12 server environment, it can really reduce the complexity of managing security.  You may want to start out with the Early Experts study information located at to learn more.

    If you decide to remain in a workgroup environment, Remote Desktop Services can still be installed and configured, but the process is a bit different.  See the below article link for details:…/2833839

    Hope this helps!


  3. Excellent article to start working on Cloud

  4. KeithMayer says:

    Hi Govind,

    You can build out a single Hyper-V host and create VM's for Active Directory, System Center 2012 VMM and System Center 2012 App Controller for a lab environment.  To build a Hyper-V host cluster, you'll need at least one more host.

    Hope this helps!


  5. Anonymous says:

    Hello Keith,

    perfect, thanks a lot for our time and the instrucations.

    Kind regards,


  6. KeithMayer says:

    Hi Carsten,

    I'd recommend a SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn cluster with separate DB instances for VMM, App Controller, Ops Mgr, Orchestrator and Service Manager.  For DPM and ConfigMgr, I recommend collocating the SQL DB engine with the DPM Server and ConfigMgr Site Server.

    Hope this helps!


  7. carsten says:

    Hi Keith – great idea. I'm very excited to listen to this series.

    A step-by-step and hands-on approach is very welcome. One point I haven't answered for myself is: How to deal with SQL-Server when starting to use multiple System Center 2012 components :

    – provide a central SQL-Server for all System Center 2012 components (single instance / multiple instance) ?

    – implement a separate SQL-Server for each System Center 2012  component ?

    Different aspects have to be considered when answering this question: Performance, usability, licensing, future Upgrades, business size (SMB / large enterprise) …

    I'm  curious to see how you will deal with this topic.

    Best regards


  8. Neil says:

    Hi Keith,

    I was horrified to learn that RDP is unavailable with Server 2012 because of limitations on a workgroup environment. For many years I have been managing clients with TS. I manage now 12 servers which mainly support MYOB, MS Office and Adobe applications all operating from their own ('private cloud')server using Windows 2008R2. They are all small business owners with between 10-30 RDP daily connections.

    The cost of asking clients to buy additional hardware for their small business cannot be justified. We might just as well continue with Server 2008R2.

    Your comments suggest that I should embrace Hyper V.

    Can the above scenario work well using one Server 2012 (AD) and Hyper V connections in a similar role to RDP? If so where do I start? My knowledge of AD is limited and I rely on SAMS books

    I am configuring a new Intel server for our own business with 4 active RDP clients.

    I am a Microsoft Partner and Action Pack subscriber.

    I do look forward to your thoughts.

    Regards, NeilK

  9. govind says:

    Hi Keith,

    Excellent article to start working on Cloud. It's really tough to get some hands on experience inside the organization due to separation of duties.can we do it on a server with multiple VMs created on it? This will be really helpful.

    warm regards


  10. govind says:

    Thank you so much Keith. I am starting on this. will get in touch with you for any assistance required.

    warm regards


  11. William Faulkner says:

    Came across this through Google+

    Have been hoping I would find something to cure me of my Cloud aversion and hopefully this will be it..!

    Looks intriguing and starting off with it today – many thanks.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Pingback from NeWay Technologies – Weekly Newsletter #75 – December 26, 2013 | NeWay

  13. Anonymous says:

    Pingback from NeWay Technologies – Weekly Newsletter #75 – December 27, 2013 | NeWay

  14. Anonymous says:

    We are still trying to process all the information we got at BUILD, but new announcements and cool news

  15. Anonymous says:

    Pingback from Step-by-Step: Build Your Cloud with System Center 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012 R2, Hyper-V and Microsoft Azure | Peter, IT Pro

  16. Anonymous says:

    Step-by-Step: Build Your Cloud with System Center 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012 R2, Hyper-V and Microsoft Azure – – Site Home – TechNet Blogs

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