Tag: Lab

Windows Server and Azure Arc Intel NUC Lab Kit

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.



Intel NUC Windows Server

Building a Windows Server Lab with an Intel NUC

With the release of Windows Server 2019, which includes a ton of Hybrid Cloud integration features, it was time to build a new lab environment. The plan is to create a lab and demo environment for my presentations and workshops. Until today, I was still using my hardware from 2011, which was built from Cisco C200 and HPE ProLiant servers. This was datacenter grade hardware, and it was using a lot of electricity and made a lot of noise. Not the machine for a home lab under your desk. With some pretty good deals out there, I decided to buy a brand-new Intel NUC. NUC stands for Next Unit of Computing, which is a small, light, cheap, and not a very noisy computer, which gives you the latest Intel CPUs and ports. The NUC is mostly used as desktop or media computers. However, the price and the features are also making it an excellent option for a lab running Hyper-V.

If I look at the hardware our customers are using today. There is not really a good way to build a cheap home lab based on datacenter hardware. And with my workloads mostly running in Azure anyway, the Intel NUC seems to be a great option. For most of my demos, a single server running Hyper-V should be enough. For demos on Storage Spaces Direct or Clustering, I can still use Azure with Nested Virtualization.

Intel NUC Windows Server LAB

I decided to get an Intel NUC NUC8i7BEH – Bean Canyon with the following specs:

  • Intel Core i7-8559U
  • 32GB DDR4 RAM
  • 1TB M.2 Samsung 970 EVO
  • Intel Wireless-AC 9560 + Bluetooth 5.0
  • Gigabit LAN
  • USB-A and USB-C ports
  • Thunderbolt 3 port

If you want to know how to install the network adapter driver for Windows Server 2019 on your Intel NUC, check out my blog post here.

Unfortunately, the Intel NUC is limited to 32GB of RAM, and this version does not have a TPM chip. The good thing, it runs Windows Server 2019 and Windows Admin Center just fine. So far, I don’t have any issues, except that there are some missing drivers for Windows Server 2019. We will see how it works out in the next couple of months.

You can download Windows Server 2019 Evaluation version from the Microsoft Evaluation Center.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.



Automated Active Directory Deployment with PowerShell

Powershell

For a small presentation at KTSI I created a PowerShell script will automatically will deploys Active Directory Servers, adds other member servers, creates Organization Units and adds users via Powershell Remoting. As source there is a XML configuration file and CSV files for User Data.

Install AD with Powershell

This script is just for Lab deployments not for production, and it is not perfect, but I think maybe some people will enhance this script with their own code.

I do not support this script. it is just something I need to deploy my test environments and nothing more. More it shows diffrent

You can find more information about it works in this document.

XML Config file:

 
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<lab>
<config>
<servers>
<server name="ADS01" ip="192.168.100.11" id="1" adminpw="passw0rd"/>
<server name="ADS02" ip="192.168.100.12" id="2" adminpw="passw0rd"/>
</servers>
<ad>
<domain name="ktsi.local" netbiosname="ktsi" forestlevel="4" domainlevel="4" safemodepw="passw0rd" />
</ad>
<ous>
<ou name="UserAccounts" path="DC=KTSI,DC=LOCAL" />
<ou name="BASEL" path="OU=USERACCOUNTS,DC=KTSI,DC=LOCAL" />
<ou name="CHICAGO" path="OU=USERACCOUNTS,DC=KTSI,DC=LOCAL" />
<ou name="NEWYORK" path="OU=USERACCOUNTS,DC=KTSI,DC=LOCAL" />
<ou name="SALES" path="OU=BASEL,OU=USERACCOUNTS,DC=KTSI,DC=LOCAL" />
<ou name="IT" path="OU=BASEL,OU=USERACCOUNTS,DC=KTSI,DC=LOCAL" />
<ou name="ADMINISTRATION" path="OU=BASEL,OU=USERACCOUNTS,DC=KTSI,DC=LOCAL" />
<ou name="PRODUCTION" path="OU=BASEL,OU=USERACCOUNTS,DC=KTSI,DC=LOCAL" />
<ou name="SALES" path="OU=CHICAGO,OU=USERACCOUNTS,DC=KTSI,DC=LOCAL" />
<ou name="IT" path="OU=CHICAGO,OU=USERACCOUNTS,DC=KTSI,DC=LOCAL" />
<ou name="ADMINISTRATION" path="OU=CHICAGO,OU=USERACCOUNTS,DC=KTSI,DC=LOCAL" />
<ou name="PRODUCTION" path="OU=CHICAGO,OU=USERACCOUNTS,DC=KTSI,DC=LOCAL" />
<ou name="SALES" path="OU=NEWYORK,OU=USERACCOUNTS,DC=KTSI,DC=LOCAL" />
<ou name="IT" path="OU=NEWYORK,OU=USERACCOUNTS,DC=KTSI,DC=LOCAL" />
<ou name="ADMINISTRATION" path="OU=NEWYORK,OU=USERACCOUNTS,DC=KTSI,DC=LOCAL" />
<ou name="PRODUCTION" path="OU=NEWYORK,OU=USERACCOUNTS,DC=KTSI,DC=LOCAL" />
</ous>
<users>
<file name="users.csv" path="OU=ADMINISTRATION,OU=BASEL,OU=USERACCOUNTS,DC=KTSI,DC=LOCAL" />
</users>
<members>
<member name="PC101" ip="192.168.100.21" />
<member name="PC101" ip="192.168.100.22" />
<member name="PC101" ip="192.168.100.23" />
</members>
</config>
</lab>

The PowerShell Script:



Building a new Hyper-V Private Cloud Lab

Two years ago I created my first real IT Lab with some HP ProLiant ML110 G5. I used this in the past years to test new products and projects. The Lab at this time was very limited, no storage, no cluster, not much RAM and weak CPU performance. Not much help if you work a lot with Hyper-V Clusters and System Center products.

I was looking around for some time now to find a cheap offer for new servers. In the last week I found a offer from Cisco with c200 M2 servers and I couldn’t resist to buy two of the for my Hyper-V Cluster nodes. The offer was a special deal which was even cheaper than building the servers by my own, at this point thanks to my former employer Atlantis Informatik AG.

Now what I will do is creating a new Hyper-V Cluster friendly environment with two Cisco C200 M2 Hyper-V nodes, one HP ML110 G5 as Storage Server and one of my old HP ML110 G5 servers as Hyper-V Server which all my Management servers and Active Directory will run on.

Lab Overview

If you want to know more about Hardware you can use for a Hyper-V Lab I recommend the posts of Carsten Rachfahl on hyper-v-server.de (german).

Hardware Configuration

Hyper-V nodes:

cisco c200 m2

2x Cisco C200 M2 – Intel Xeon 5620 2.4GHz Quad Core, 16GB RAM, Remote Management, IPMI, 6 Networkports

Storage Server:

ml110g5

1x HP ProLiant ML110 G5 – Intel Xeon E3110 3.0 GHz Dual Core, 8GB RAM, 4x 500GB Raid 10, 3 Networkports

Management Hyper-V node:

ml110g5

1x HP ProLiant ML110 G5 – Intel Xeon E3110 3.0 GHz Dual Core, 8GB RAM



DirectAccess for SMB and Lab environments – Design, Step by Step and Troubleshooting Guide

DirectAccess for SMB and Lab Environments This is a modified document which I wrote for a Microsoft Workshop at KTSI. It’s a Desgin, Step by Step and a Troubleshooting Guide for Microsoft DirectAccess. This is made for SMB or LAB environments not for Enterprise Deployments.

I hope this guide can help you deploy DirectAccess in your environment and you can enjoy DirectAccess like I do ;-)