I have in the past few years been doing quite a lot of Microsoft labs with different setups. The problem has been that, I’ve always compromised and been playing around with virtual machines on my work laptop or been trying to install Windows Server on old hardware. Me and my wife Iris, who also works in IT, but with software development, discussed this on Thursday as she had the same problem. The server will be used mainly for education and to test new Microsoft technologies with a system that works with you and not against you… So, we put together a good setup in the mid-price range and went and bought it last Friday!

We paid approximately $1000 for this setup:

Intel Core i5 Ivy Bridge i5-3450

Samsung SSD 830 series SATA 6Gb/s 256 GB

Asus p8z77-v LK

20 GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1600 Mhz memory

I was surprised, but we managed to set the whole thing up in under 3 hours, with no hardware errors 😉 We installed Windows Server 2012 as the main system and configured Hyper-V. I’ve been playing around with it today, and I must say that it works flawlessly! Although I’ve had Windows Server 2012 installed on a virtual machine for testing, it’s really fun to have it installed as the main system on the server for “real” use!  I’ve run in to a couple of bugs in Windows Server 2012, that I will blog about later 🙂

Here is a picture of my wife assembling the server!

We installed Windows Server 2012 with Hyper-V, instead of Vmware Workstation that I have previously used for lab setups. I must say, that I prefer Hyper-V since it’s quick, has a clean interface and I like the Dynamic Memory feature 🙂 Of course there’s a lot more to it than this.

Here is a screen shot of the Task Manager of the server when running 4 virtual machines with Windows 8, Windows Server 2012 and two Windows Server 2008 R2. Performance wize, everything works great. Of course, there will be more pressure on the machines once I install some more heavy server roles, but I still think it’s good!

I hope that I can inspire other IT Pros to do the same, and don’t try to cram in a virtual environment on their laptop 🙂

Task Manager running 4 Virtual Machines