Creating a Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview Hyper-V Cluster Lab – Part 1 (Prep)

NOTE: This post has been updated, please see the update near the bottom.

Hello out there!

This may seem like an odd post for my blog, considering I’m a VMware VCP, and this blog has had most posts written about VMware, but there’s going to be a lot more Hyper-V related posts coming… so watch this space!

As always, starting a lab is a long winded project. Machines need to be built, re-named, addressed, domains need to be created, members added and all of those server roles, apps and updates have to be installed and configured.

Well, this lab is going to have a lot going on… The overview here is that I’m taking a look at the Windows Server 2012 R2 technologies, based on the preview version available from Microsoft. Mostly this will be Hyper-V 2012 R2, mixed with System Center 2012 R2, Virtual Machine Manager and Operations Manager. I may, or may not for now, add the Windows Azure Pack, which is looking like a self-service portal, and part of Microsoft’s “Cloud OS” strategy.

So, here’s the overview of what’s going to be created:

1 x Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview Domain Controller also running the iSCSI target service.
2 x Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview Hyper-V hosts (eventually running Server Core mode).
1 x Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview host, running System Center 2012 R2 for Operations Manager and Virtual Machine Manager.

This will all be running from my Lenovo ThinkPad W530 laptop (16GB RAM, Intel i7 Quad core CPU and 250GB SSD)… with Windows 8, and the built in Hyper-V feature. If you don’t have that feature installed, it can be added using the features options under “Programs and Features” in the Control Panel. Just check the top level box, run the install and reboot a couple of times.

That’s the first, easy step done 🙂

Next, we need to download Windows Server 2012 R2 (just search for the preview download in your favourite engine). Sign up, and download the VHD copy with a GUI (to make life easier to start with). Once you’ve got that, extract it to a memorable location. Do the same for System Center 2012 R2 Preview.

Now we need to create a virtual switch… Open up Hyper-V manager, and click “Virtual Switch Manager”. Choose “Internal” and click “Create Virtual Switch”. Give your switch a name, and click OK. If you don’t know already, an internal switch won’t allow your VM’s to use the actual network. You’d need an “External” switch for that. Because I like to keep my lab environments separate, I chose an Internal switch.

In Hyper-V Manager, right click on your computer name. Create a new machine, with the spec you want (using the switch you just created) and using one of the VHD files for it’s first disk. Perform any global changes you want to make to all of your machines, for example, run Windows Update, change the admin password (it’s “R2Preview!” by the way), etc. etc.

Now, shut down the VM, and copy it’s VHD three times. Make 3 more VM’s via Hyper-V manager, each using a copy of the first VM’s disk. The 4 in total will make up the lab environment.

Once you’ve got your 4 machines, boot the first. This will be the 2012 domain controller. RUN SYSPREP! Make sure you choose the “generalize” option and reboot. Give it a decent name, and a static IP address. In the same way you do in Server 2012 R1, install AD Domain Services, DNS Server and the iSCSI target roles & features, go ahead and install the Hyper-V management tools at the same time. Configure AD at the end of the installer, and reboot as necessary.

Now, boot up your first Hyper-V host and run sysprep again. Give it a static IP address, and join it to the domain. Install the Hyper-V role, and reboot, DO NOT create a virtual switch. This will be setup for the child VM’s whilst we configure Hyper-V clustering. Do the same with your second Hyper-V host.

Lastly, perform the same actions with the last machine (ensure sysprep is run!), but power it off when it’s rebooted… it’ll be a while before we use this machine.

That’s the prep work done, you’ve a working AD environment, and two Hyper-V hosts. You’ve also prepared a system ready for the System Center 2012 R2 installation.

UPDATE: Seems I was pre-emptive in my plan here… you can’t run Hyper-V in a Hyper-V’d VM and get a VM to boot… so I’ve had to revert back to using VMware Workstation to create the first level of VM’s, which meant removing Hyper-V from my laptop. It’s a shame really, and something I hope Microsoft resolve in the future (maybe with Windows 8.1?), as creating this sort of lab environment is very common, and it would be nice not to have to run a 3rd party hypervisor on my laptop!

I’ll see you over at Part 2… (coming soon).


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