Test Lab Buildup Series – Introduction

I am in the process of revamping my entire test lab build process, and given that I know of a number of admins that still do things entirely by hand, I thought I would share the process involved since for some folks it is a fairly intimidating task to automate their world.

I actually have 3 test labs: 1 at the office, which resides on my primary workstation that runs Windows 10 with Hyper-V enabled, and another at home with a dedicated server that runs VMware ESXi 6, and I’ll be introducing a new server into that environment running Hyper-V Server 2012 R2.  My third test lab is actually on my laptop, and I use that one when I need to test out a concept when I am on slow wifi or away from an Internet connection, or in a meeting when I need to break out an answer fast.  Due to the limitations of my laptop I’m limited to a couple of low power VMs, but I’ve found that when I need those 2 or 3 VMs, I really need them, and they’ve saved my bacon a number of times.  The laptop is running Windows 10 with Hyper-V enabled.

It is my goal to demonstrate the process of building up the test lab environment on both platforms, from scratch – no WDS, no SCCM, no vCenter or VMM, no templates etc.  This means that each phase of the deployment and buildup will have both scripts available, and you can use and combine them as needed.

During this series, I will demonstrate the following:

  • Hyper-V Host Configuration
  • VMware Host Configuration
  • Server 2012 R2 Boot Image Creation w/ AutoUnattend.xml Answer File Creation
  • Server Deployment
  • Domain Controller, DNS, and DHCP Deployment
  • Domain Test Data Creation (Users, Groups, OUs, etc.)
  • Windows 10 Boot Image Creation w/ AutoUnattend.xml Answer File Creation

At that point, you will have a fully functional test environment on the platform(s) of your choice where you can test configurations and changes to your hearts content, and wipe it away and rebuild it relatively easily.


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