Home > 2008R2_LAB, Certification, Home Lab, Windows2008R2, Windows7 > 2008R2_LAB: Windows 2008 R2 Domain Build

2008R2_LAB: Windows 2008 R2 Domain Build

As our company’s local "Certification Dude", I’ve recently been working to get a lab built at our office for some of the non-server guys a place where they can learn Windows 7 for the certification they’re doing.  Yes, Windows 8 is out, but we’re still completing a Windows 7 roll-out, and this is good training.  They already know some/most/all of this, so studying to get done in time for the January 2014 cut off for Windows 7 exams is a good idea. 

In my discussions with that team, it quickly became apparent that one of the issues is that much of their training material assumes they have a working server/domain environment available to them.  Wording such as "log on to the DC and….", "edit the GPO’s….", "Configure the NIC for DHCP…".  All of this is great, but if they’re trying to learn the client OS, and learn the server infrastructure and likely learn some manner of virtualization to make it all work – clearly, this is going to spread anyone thin.  So I’ve taken on the requirements of building them out a basic, safe, environment for them to work and play and learn in, which will let them focus on the client training/certification they’re working on.

Could I have used Windows 2012?  Of course.  But much of our infrastructure is Windows 2008 R2, and this is what they’re likely to see soon enough as they gain experience.  2008 R2 is also very quick and easy for me to set up and troubleshoot – 2012 is still new’ish.  In this environment the goal is helping them learn their parts, not make an example of mine.  Also, this let’s my peers on the infrastructure team later work on the 2012 lab environment to duplicate what I’ve created for 2008 R2. 

So what will this "2008 R2 Lab Series" build?  Basic infrastructure including:

  • A M0n0wall firewall – this will make the lab more portable.  This won’t matter then if it’s on the corporate DEV network, in a lab network, in VMware Workstation with NAT, etc.  The firewall will always be able to abstract away whatever LAN connection it’s on and the LAB LAN network.
  • A 2008 R2 DC (LAB-DC1) – this will run Active Directory Directory Services, DNS, and DHCP.  Little else in the way of roles should go on this server. 
  • A 2008 R2 Member Server (LAB-WDS1) – this will run Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) for patch management, Windows Deployment Services (WDS) for PXE booting and deployment, Group Policy Management Console (GPMC), and other supporting roles.  Any other roles could be added here, or to a more appropriate server. 
  • 2 empty VM’s for workstations (LAB-WIN7-1 & LAB-WIN7-2).  ISO Installation, VM cloning, PXE booting – whatever is needed.

While I’ll be writing up some HOWTO’s for their benefit and for the teams at work, I figured it made sense to share the same work on my blog and let anyone else who might be starting out have a step by step process to work from.  It’s not like it costs me anything extra to post it externally vs internally.  Maybe some of them will stumble across it, and use it later to build their own environments. 

Stay tuned for more posts….

(What would be great, is to use this as an excuse to build out some vCloud Director environments in my lab, learn some multi-tenancy, and put my lab hardware to some real use.  We’ll see what happens :))

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