Building Microsoft System Center Cloud – Introduction

I decided that my company team members need to have lab to play with Microsoft System Center 2012 R2. This should not be a stage environment but only a sandbox where they can play.


This lab will be probably one of the most basic designs I ever did because we will mostly focus on the technology. When you want to do some enterprise design you have to focus to the business and model your design according its needs. In the environment that we will build together we will focus on the technology because from the beginning you have to understand the technology and what the technology can offer to you and then you can continue with the design.

High level design

  • Isolated testing environment. Nothing else…

Low level design

From the costs perspective I need to reuse the existing hardware and the already cabled networks that are currently available. This is most the important point for the following design.


  • All VMs will run on a single isolated Hyper-V cluster with two nodes.


I prefer CORE servers for the hosts for better security (smaller attack surface) and decreased amount of patches but for the junior administrators it is easier to use GUI when they want to connect using RDP.

  • Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 Update 1 (it is available now) with GUI and with current updates

Virtual Machines

When all machines are in domain I see no reason for frequent connections by RDP because from my perspective it is much faster to have all tools in the management terminal server(s) but junior admins demands GUI so there will be GUI on all VMs.

  • Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 Update 1 with GUI


  • In our case we are building testing environment that is protected by company firewalls but even when there is an enterprise firewall on the network I prefer using Windows Firewall as a second defense layer. You can see that the most of the guides on the internet are done in simple way and the instructors usually disable Windows Firewall because it is easier to not worry about it. I do not like this approach because in the production environment you have to manage the firewall and other security layers and from my point of view it is better to be prepared for that from the testing or Proof of Concept (Pilot, PoC) environment.
  • Most of the servers will have firewall enabled and I will point you when the manual FW configuration is required.

My rules

  • Use WindowsPowerShell only when you can save time.
    • Windows PowerShell is great and every day I am using it more often during stadard administration (not only to automate processes by custom scripts) but I see no reason to use it for everything. Sometime the wizards are faster than typing cmdlets because you probably do not remember all parameters and you have to use help. In such cases I prefer to use the GUI when you have to do desired tasks only once.

Hot to use my lessons?

  • I will not show you every step and I will not show you every possibility.
  • Explore the possibilities and do things differently than I do.
  • Learn more about things that I will mention and explore the things that I will not explain.
  • This is not a manual of how to create a cloud. This is guide how to start and then you have to continue by yourself.


Do not worry. You do not have to use the same hardware. From the start you need just one Hyper-V host.

  • My servers:
    • 2x HP ProLiant BL460c Gen8 Server Blade
  • Same configuration for every server:
    • 2x Intel Xeon CPU E5 2609
    • 2x Internal HDD
    • 2x Connection to SAN
    • 6x NIC but only four are cabled

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