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Argon Systems Blog

Microsoft Private Cloud Experts

Recently several customers and others have asked us how to setup a hybrid cloud virtual lab. The intended uses for this lab environment included:

  • Training systems where multiple students can have their own lab environment to break and then be rebuilt in minutes.
  • DevOps developers wanting to test PowerShell management scripts.
  • Customer demonstration environments with various configurations.
  • Testing new hybrid features from Windows Server 2016 Datacenter before investing in hardware.
  • Connect to Azure public cloud to test hybrid cloud scenarios.

The top requirement was for something low cost, low risk, and convenient to use (and abuse). This requirement made for an interesting challenge. It got us thinking outside the (traditional server) box. What if you had an impressive amount of hybrid cloud technologies literally on your desk?

So we took with a common Windows 10 desktop PC with 16GB of memory and a 300GB SSD drive. Then we installed Windows Server 2016 Datacenter and configured it. Voilà! We got a desktop hybrid cloud virtual lab.

Note, you want the VHD files on a Solid-State Disk drive. Trying to run VMs on a desktop HD is futile.

To prove we are not playing a trick on you and used a high-powered workstation or a rack server, here’s the actual desktop PC we used to build a hybrid cloud lab. On this one desktop with Hyper-V enabled, we were able to create:

Hybrid cloud virtual lab running on a common desktop PC

Hybrid cloud virtual lab running on a common desktop PC

  • 4 node Storage Spaces Direct cluster, each node has 6 virtual SCSI drives
  • 3 node Hyper-V compute cluster to test disaggregated compute and storage environments
  • Scale-Out file services for remote SMB shares
  • High-availability NFS file server
  • CentOS Linux client to test NFS
  • Several Windows Server 2016 VMs running on both the hyper-converged cluster and on the Hyper-V compute clusters
  • PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC) commands to test new DevOps management and monitoring scripts

Granted, this pretty much exhausted the 16GB memory on this PC even using dynamic memory for the VMs. Still, the desktop applications on this PC only slowed slightly. This is also happens to be one of the actual PCs we use daily in the office. I’m writing this blog article on it now!

Check out our latest KB article How to Build Windows Storage Spaces Direct on a Virtual Lab and put a hybrid cloud on your desktop PC. Let us know what you think.