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  1. Senior Member
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    #1

    Default Server Lab Recommendation

    Hey guys.
    Been browsing these forums for a few years, but this is my first post. This board has been an amazing resource since I began going to school and looking to transition into the IT field.

    I've been working help desk for a little over 2 years now, and am looking to make the transition to Server Administration as there are some openings with a really great company that I'd like to join. I've taken a server admin bootcamp through work, and watched a bunch of cbt nugget videos, but nothing beats the real thing, so I'd like to set up a lab.

    I've tried a couple times to set up a couple vm's through virtual box with server 2008 R2, but I'm on a macbook air and the resources get hogged up pretty quickly and responsiveness varies. I've grown more and more frustrated trying to go this route so was looking for some recommendations for a decent set up.

    I don't want to spend TOO much money if I don't have to, but I'm also not opposed to spending some if it's warranted. So basically I'd just like to know if you guys would recommend a laptop, desktop, white box, or what, to use as a lab set up for 2008 R2... ideally want to run a few simultaneous VMs... DC, DNS server, client etc.... need to get pretty familiar with IIS and SQL

    any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
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  3. Junior Member
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    #2
    If you're going to setup a lab then you'll want to have a dedicated desktop/whitebox. Ideally you'll want a CPU that has either AMD or Intel virtualisation support (AMD-V Intel VTx), 16gb RAM, 200+gb HDD (or SSD if you can stretch). Motherboard doesnt really matter all that much as well as having multiple NICS (as you would be creating virtual networks using either ESXi or Hyper-V or XenServer, take your pick) as it is a budget build.

    You really need to decide on how you want to virtualise your lab and buy your hardware accordingly IMO. E.g. AMD virtualisation works well with ESXi but I've found it to be a bit wanting for Hyper-V.

    I'd setup your lab box and then use your MBA to remote into it via RDP. Oh, It might also be a prudent idea to segregate your lab from the rest of your home network using another router especially if you're going to be playing around with DNS, DHCP, etc.

    One last question, is there any particular reason for going for server 2008 certification over server 2012? Just curious is all.

    Cheers, -A
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  4. Senior Member
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    #3
    Thanks alot for the suggestion.

    I've been going back and forth on whether I want to work with hyper v or esxi. Do you have a preference/recommendation?

    I wouldn't have thought to put the server on a different router, so thanks for that suggestion.

    Lastly, 2008 only because that's the area that I've already invested the most time studying, and it's directly (as of now) applicable in the environment I'm looking to work. Figure it shouldn't be too much of a stretch to familiarize myself with 12 after the fact.

    I'll go hunting for parts based on those specs, but do you have any idea what a set up like that would likely cost, ballpark?

    Really appreciate the response
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  5. Junior Member
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    #4
    I use Hyper-V on 2012R2 server. I'm not sure if there are any major differences between 2012R2 hyperv and 2008 hyperv. My main reason for choosing to install 2012 on my lab box was to be able to install and use hyper v, I tried it in VM Workstation and it didnt play nicely. However, if you're comfortable with your knowledge of Hyper V then I would suggest ESXi as the hypervisor requires less resources to run, is generally more mature, and has more features.

    For $<500? I am going to assume you live in the US

    Take a look here for a cheap ESXi box (will work just as well for a 2008/2012 box): TheHomeServerBlog
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  6. Member
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    #5
    Would a laptop with an Intel i7, 16gb RAM, and 1TB HDD w/ windows 8 on it be ok to run ESXi with server 2008 or 2012?
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  7. Junior Member
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    #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Clem25 View Post
    Would a laptop with an Intel i7, 16gb RAM, and 1TB HDD w/ windows 8 on it be ok to run ESXi with server 2008 or 2012?
    Apologies, I should have explained that ESXi is a bare metal hypervisor and you wouldn't run ESXi on you laptop as ESXi doesn't have any "GUI" like Windows 8 to speak of. Instead you would use a paid-for product like VMWare Workstation or the free alternative - VirtualBox which would also be good to use. I've used both and find them both to be more then suitable for labbing.

    With those specs you will easily be able to run multiple server instances, I have comparatively the same specs in my lab box and have a 4 x 2012 R2 VMs, 2 WIN 8 VMs and a WIN 7 VM.

    One thing that I may add - consider getting a nice 22 or 24 inch monitor as it lets you have some more screen realestate to play around with (side by side RDP connections for instance).
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  8. Member
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    #7
    Thanks.
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  9. Senior Member
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    #8
    I went with a W530 for my lab box. It has an i7 3720QM processor and 20GB of RAM. The W-series from Lenovo has 4 RAM slots and my work just happens to give out 4GB sticks like candy. For me, portability was important because of school and I tend to be away from home a fair amount. You can remote in to your home network, but I prefer to have everything at my fingertips. Once I get into playing around with bigger and better things, then I will probably buy a $500-600 desktop to play around with ESXi and/or virtualizing with Hyper-V.
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  10. Senior Member bub9001's Avatar
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    #9
    I have listed different ways from Free to $$$, here is the link to what I posted.

    Lab Setup Recommendation - 70-680 & 70-685

    Hope this helps.
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  11. Senior Member
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    #10
    this seems like a pretty sweet deal


    Selling my cisco lab with my GEN 3 Dell 2950 enterprise server which I recently added another 300GB SAS HDD to it. Server alone costs me with the upgrades 500+$ .... I'm selling it, the cisco 2950 trunked switches, cisco router all for 500$ CASH! Ohh not to mention just google a "cisco lab rack" with 24 port patch panel. 1200+$ setup here take it and run !! THe server is 64GB of ram capable, currently has 16GB installed, 8 HDD bays, dual powersupplies, dual NIC's AND.... PERC 5i RAID controller .... all is working like brand new... face plate with keys etc...


    thoughts?
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  12. Senior Member
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    #11
    Quote Originally Posted by bub9001 View Post
    I have listed different ways from Free to $$$, here is the link to what I posted.

    Lab Setup Recommendation - 70-680 & 70-685

    Hope this helps.


    awesome man, thanks a lot.
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  13. Senior Member kriscamaro68's Avatar
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    #12
    Quote Originally Posted by josephandre View Post
    this seems like a pretty sweet deal


    Selling my cisco lab with my GEN 3 Dell 2950 enterprise server which I recently added another 300GB SAS HDD to it. Server alone costs me with the upgrades 500+$ .... I'm selling it, the cisco 2950 trunked switches, cisco router all for 500$ CASH! Ohh not to mention just google a "cisco lab rack" with 24 port patch panel. 1200+$ setup here take it and run !! THe server is 64GB of ram capable, currently has 16GB installed, 8 HDD bays, dual powersupplies, dual NIC's AND.... PERC 5i RAID controller .... all is working like brand new... face plate with keys etc...


    thoughts?
    Pass on that and get this: HP Proliant DL160 G6 1U 2X Xeon QC L5520 2 26GHz No HDD 72GB RAM Special Qty 000491532004 | eBay

    Then a couple SSDs' and you will be set for life.
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