Microsoft Server Experience

Discussion in 'Technology' started by bfun, Apr 19, 2013.

  1. I'm looking to get some experience on Microsoft Servers. I'd like to do this on the cheap so some advice please. In particular I need experience with Active Directory. Exchange would be a bonus.

    I'm thinking of buying some cheap server software off ebay. What should I be looking for? Will one CAL be enough or should I go for 5?
  2. Are you trying to learn/lab up Exchange?
  3. Is this just for a lab at home? When you install Windows Server and Exchange they simply ask you which licensing model you are using, they don't actually check and as you are going to be in a test environment I wouldn't worry anyway. Just set it to per user, you don't put in numbers it relies on you being honest. You are supposed to have 1 CAL for every user who connects to a server and 1 CAL for every user using exchange.

    Ideally you will want to install Windows Server twice (one domain controller, one exchange) and I think you get 2 VM's per license so you will be covered there. If you buy it anyway you will get 45 activations of one license so you could lie, no one is really going to know.

    If I were you I would install ESXi 5.1 as you can get the hypervisor for free, that way if you do any damage you can restore to a snapshot and you can run both servers on one piece of hardware as well as any desktop machines you want to create to test your domain.

    ESX, Windows Server and Exchange are all things I run at work so any questions feel free to ask. If you do start playing with ESX I would suggest if you have any spare hardware install Ubuntu on one and set up an iSCSI target so you can play around with iSCSI and allocating LUNs to VMs etc. It is kind of a fake iSCSI NAS/SAN just without the price or performance. You should be able to use it as a datastore and run a VM from it no trouble. Everyone uses virtual machines for servers these days and as you are starting from scratch you may as well use them.

    Also you can get a license of Veeam Backup and Replicate for free for a lab environment if you want to teach yourself how to work with backups and replication in a virtual environment*.

    * You would have to be running ESX on the 60 day trial license for this to work as VMware told Veeam not to let the software work with free licenses. It will just fail.
  4. Just have a clean install on a virtual machine, save the state, experiment and restore the saved state anytime you go wrong.

    Installing AD itself is straightforward, however until you have at least one additional machine in under the catalog, you can't really do much.

    If you have specific questions, chances are someone could help. Myself, I am a Windows system architect for 15 years now,, sql server, msmq, ad, you-name-it. I don't have much experience with Exchange as IT guys maintain it and there is nothing to develop around it. Rather, we did something around O365 lately.
  5. Re: Re: Microsoft Server Experience

    Exchange has pretty much become a server role now except you still install it from an installer package.

    You can actually go to the M$ site, tell it what you intend to do with exchange and it will build you a PDF with a step by step guide on installing.

    If I were you setting out on this my plan would be..

    1: Download and install ESXi 5.1 using a free license (Max 32GB vRAM). Configure a simply vSwitch and give it a datastore for the VM files.

    2: Create VM and install Server. Configure AD, DNS and DHCP and then a couple of users.

    3: Setup a Windows 7 pro vm and register it on the domain. Test things like Group Policy, DNS and DHCP are working.

    4: Setup a second VM Windows Server and install and configure Exchange.
  6. ESXi is a type 1 hypervisor so it would be the systems main OS. Using a type 2 hypervisor for all of this may not give you very good performance, Windows 8 will be chewung up a lot of RAM before your VMs even start and you wouldn't be able to connect your Win 8 box to the domain as it would come up first.

    Once you install ESXi you would need to install vSphere Client on another PC to manage it.

    1 CAL for each will be fine, like I say no one is really going to know what you are doing. You don't input anything onto the server, just tell it you are using per user licensing. At the end of the day it is a test environment so buy the bare minimum.

    Server 2008 is fine, we still use it at work as although I have the CALs I haven't had time to even think about 2012 yet.

    The thing is to run a DC, an Exchange server and at least one client PC your going to need a moderate amount of resources and probably 12-16 GB RAM as a bare Minimum. Doing this a Type 2 on top of Windows I would not personally advise. If you were just doing server as a DC and maybe connecting another physical PC to the domain then it could be OK but with Exchange as well on another server VM that is asking a lot. The other problem is that if you put this on your home network and install DHCP and DNS it is going to start broadcasting. Ideally you want this all on it's own network and set up some routing if you want them to get out on the web. ESX will use also hardly any resources.

    Do the support desk guys in the company you work for have a test system they could loan you with maybe 4 cores and 20GB RAM?
  7. ESXi can't be managed without the vSphere client on another machine?
  8. ESX on the host is basically a command line OS with a small GUI to configure basic stuff such as password and IP address. There are actually some things you can't do in even the vSphere GUI like binding NICs to a software iSCSI initiator, you have to use the CLI.

    I added some stuff to my last post while you were typing that incase you didn't see it, sorry.
  9. My PC has 8Gb so maybe I'll skip Exchange for now. The home network wont be an issue as I can run two separate networks from my router.

    I don't know any PC guys well enough to get these kind of resources. Everything is virtual these days and they get really stingy with their memory and CPUs. They did build me a 2008 server a few weeks ago but it's going into production soon so I can't really screw it up.

    Hmmm. You got me thinking now. I do know of an old server that no one wants but I'm not sure of how to access it. The thing weighs 200 pounds so I'm not moving it.

    Thanks for all the info.
  10. If this is for a lab, I would suggest you use Server 2008 without a serial. It gives you 60 days free, and afterwards just bothers you about getting a license. I tried to setup an Exchange cluster for practice and certification. You will need quite a few server installs to get this up & running to simulate a good corporate environment (2x DC, 2x CAS, 2x MBS, 2x DAG, etc..). Don't waste the money.

    I actually had 1x of each of the ^ running on an 8GB (Core2Duo) PC w/ Win7. But the Exchange server was a combined role one. It's doable, just not as fast.
  11. Oh great. The website says.

    That's plenty good enough for me.

    What do you mean by don't waste the money?
  12. He means just use a trial license, like he says it will still work after 60 days but it will tell you it is counterfeit.

    How old is that server? Server 2008 R2 and beyond are x64 only so the server cpy will have to have vt-x (Intel) or AMD-V or it wont install on top of ESX.
  13. I'm going to install the trial version of 2012 on a hard drive on my PC. I believe the standard version gives me 120 days while the Enterprise version is only 60. I tried to get ESXi installed last night but I kept getting a "bad disk" message in the middle of the install. I burned it twice and it didn't help. I've read that can be from a bad download so I'll download it again.
  14. I take it you don't have a technet sub as you could get free server software on there. Just had a look and you can download server 2012 and exchange 2013 with a subscription. I only really download desktop software/OS from technet to use at home and the odd server tool but it is handy.

    Been at work all day planning exchange 2013 upgrade and PtoV of a SQL server, nice way to spend a Saturday.

    I installed ESXi 5.1 from an ISO I downloaded from the VMware site 2 weeks ago so I think the image should be OK.
  15. It's a no go on the ESXi install. I keep getting the error "isolinux disk error 20" during the start up process. Maybe I can try some different burn software.
  16. How detailed a lab are you trying to create? When I was learning from scratch so I didn't need anything fancy. I did a very basic sim using free VMWare player on my regular PC (c2d 8gb ram). Barebones you just need a domain controller, 1 multi-role exchange server, and an XP/7 user PC.

    This is one of the reasons I got 32GB of ram in the desktop I put together last summer.
  17. ESXi is dead in the water now. I finally got it loaded by using ashampoo and a different DVD drive but ESXi can't find any of my disk drives most likely due to incompatible hardware. I wont be swapping my mobo anytime soon so game over.

    If I run the server with VMWare on top of my desk top, will I be able to use my desktop as part of the lab?
  18. I just looked it up and there doesn't appear to be any reason you can't install ESXi on a SATA drive with a generic chipset, I am sure i have had it running on a Dell Optiplex with an Intel chipset a few years ago when I was testing..

    Maybe it doesn't like you controller, this is a bit of a pain.

    Really no as it will come up first, for example the DC won't be on so it wont be able to authenticate at log on, group policy wont work on it and if your DC is managing DHCP and DNS it won't be getting an address etc. You will however be able to create a virtual system and connect it to the domain. Perhaps you should look for a lite Linux Distro and install a Type 2 hypervisor on top of that so that you don't use up too many resources. It is still probably going to end up a bit messy and you're going to have to think about how you handle the networking side of things as you don't want the DC to start broadcasting DHCP and DNS to your public network.

    The reason ESX was a good idea was that you could give the ESX system an IP on your public network and manage it but when you create the vSwitch you could put it on a completely different vLan and keep the whole test environment separate perhaps just adding a route to get them out onto the internet.

    I have never tried to use Hyper-V but I think that is free with Server 2008 and upwards so you could see if that will work.

    I know I keep banging on about resources but here for example is a ESX server I have running and I have only turned on 2 servers, one DC and one Exchange server, as you can see it is quite RAM heavy.


    ESX itself will be using only a tiny amount of the system's RAM. If you want to run 2 servers plus a desktop you are going to need quite a bit of RAM. In theory you can run Windows Server 2008 R2 on 512 MB RAM but I don't think it will work too well.
  19. I'm not sure. You would have to somehow get it on the domain & network generated by the VM. I just used an XP VM. It shouldn't be impossible with 8GB, do 1gb DC, 4GB Exh, 1GB XP.

    What he says is absolutely true, it won't run great. But it's a good crude setup to learn/practice, if that is all you're looking to do.