Windows Server and Azure Arc Intel NUC Lab Kit

Written by 10:26 am Hardware, Microsoft, Microsoft Azure, Windows Server • 3 Comments

My Windows Server and Azure Arc Hybrid Cloud Lab Kit

Since I am working a lot with Azure Arc and Windows Server with Hybrid Cloud integration, I need a lab and demo environment for my presentations, workshops and to try new features. When Windows Server 2019 was released, I bought an Intel NUC for the first time. Now I bought another Intel NUC so I can build my Windows Server 2022 and Azure Arc lab environment. In this post I am going to share my Windows Server and Azure Arc Hybrid Cloud Lab Kit running on an Intel NUC.

The Hardware – Windows Server and Azure Arc Intel NUC Lab Kit

My lab kit is built by using an Intel NUC, NUC stands for Next Unit of Computing and is a line of small-form-factor barebone computer kits designed by Intel. The advantage of this little machine is the small formfactor, low power consumption and almost no fan noise. However, the disadvantage is that it is design to run client operating systems such as Windows 10 or Windows 11 and doesn’t officially come with drivers for Windows Server, which is painful when it comes to the network adapter drivers. There are some workarounds to make it work anyway.

I went for the Intel NUCPAHIi5 which is a NUC with a 11-gen Intel i5 processor (Intel NUCPAHIi5) which is more than enough for my lab environment. Another advantage of having this machine is that it allows me to add up to 64GB of RAM and a fast M.2 SSD, and it comes with a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) 2.0.

The Software and the Cloud – Windows Server and Azure Arc Lab Kit

On top of the Intel NUC, I am running Windows Server 2022 which allows me to run Hyper-V virtualization to create different virtual machines for Windows and Linux as well as Kubernetes clusters, which can all be managed through Azure Arc. I also use Windows Admin Center to manage my Windows Server machines locally. To install Windows Server 2022 on that machine, I recommend that you check out my blog post on how to create an USB thumb drive to install Windows Server 2022. You can download Windows Server 2022 Evaluation version from the Microsoft Evaluation Center.

Windows Server 2022 Intel NUC Lab Kit
Windows Server 2022 Intel NUC Lab Kit

By connecting lab environment to Azure using Azure Arc, I can now use it to manage servers, Kubernetes clusters and deploy Azure Arc enabled services on top of it.

Hybrid Cloud Management with Azure Arc enabled Servers and Kubernetes Lab Kit
Hybrid Cloud Management with Azure Arc enabled Servers and Kubernetes Lab Kit

Here are some of the Azure Arc features you can use on your hybrid cloud lab kit:

  • Azure Arc enabled Server
  • Azure Arc enabled SQL Server
  • Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes
  • Azure Arc enabled Data Services (such as Azure SQL and PostgreSQL)
  • Azure Arc enabled Application Services (such as Web Apps, Functions, Logic Apps, and more)
  • and more

To learn more about Azure Arc, check out the Azure Arc website and the Microsoft Docs.

The Setup

You can learn more about the setup and capabilities of my Windows Server and Azure Arc hybrid cloud lab kit built with an Intel NUC on my Twitter feed. Check out my tweets here.

Also, here a quick summary of additional useful links:

Conclusion

The Intel NUC is a great platform to build a Windows Server and Hyper-V home lab. Together with Azure Arc you can used it as a great hybrid cloud lab environment. And just for you information, this is just my personal lab, and not an official Microsoft lab kit.

If you don’t want to run your own hardware or want to make it easy to build some of the Azure Arc scenarios, check out the Azure Arc Jumpstart project. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave a comment below.

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