My lab setup

On this page I want to describe my lab. I’ve recently bought new hardware so I can mess around with Storage Spaces Direct, a feature of Windows Server 2016.

The main goals of my lab is to test:

  • Hyper-V
  • System Center components, mostly Virtual Machine Manager and Operations Manager
  • Nano Server
  • Bare Metal deployments
  • Azure Site Recovery and Backup
  • Hybrid setups, with VPN to Azure
  • And whole bunch of other features…

Let’s start with my network. I have the following equipment:

The router has a ton of features, but best of all, it does both policy and route based VPNs to Azure. The switch also has a lot of features, but I mainly bought it because I like Ubiquiti for small setups like this, and because the price is very good. I can do VLANs, advanced firewall configurations, VPNs (both site-to-site and client) etc. Basically everything I need in my lab.

My servers is a bunch of different builds, all running Hyper-V:

The Intel NUC runs the core components in different VMs, like Domain Controller, DHCP, DNS, SCVMM (with SQL), WDS and a Hybrid Worker for Azure Automation.

The X10SLM-F server is for extra System Center components, and whatever else I want to run. This includes SCOM, SCSM, Azure Backup Server and Windows Azure Pack. It has 32 GB RAM and a 256 GB SSD, and is also attached to an old Synolog NAS via iSCSI.

The two X11SSM-F servers are the newest additions for my lab. Just got the second node yesterday, after doing a bunch of tests on the first one to make sure it was the correct set of hardware. The hardware is identical in each box:

I ‘m a big fan of SuperMicro, just like Ubiquiti, because it’s very affordable motherboards, with all the cool features I need. IPMI interface for management, and bare-metal deployments using SCVMM.

These two servers works perfectly with Storage Spaces Direct. I just did a complete bare-metal deployment, of a hyperconverged cluster, with Hyper-V and Storage Spaces Direct, in 42 minutes :-)

On top of all this, I have a VPN to Azure, where I have a Domain Controller, SQL, SCVMM (2012 R2) and some other small things running. Since I use Azure Backup Server, I also have a recovery services vault (or backup vault, as it was named previously). To test Disaster Recovery scenarios I use Azure Site Recovery.

That’s what I have for now. I’ll be adding network diagrams, configurations and performance tests later on. On Monday I should receive 2 Mellanox ConnectX-2 NICs which I will be connecting directly between the 2 nodes, since I don’t have a 10 Gbit switch, yet :-)

Pictures was requested, so here are a few. I know cables is a mess, but it’s temporary while I’m fixing up my new appartment;-)


The X11SSM-F servers inside (disks not mounted yet):


Servers, NAS, NUC, router and switch:


Servers, NAS and NUC – and a mess of power cables on the left20160821_120625483_iOS

Router close up:20160821_120708076_iOS