MCSE win 2003 lab setup

skippingdiscmanskippingdiscman Member Posts: 9 ■□□□□□□□□□
Hey all, was wondering if some of you Microsoft gurus could give me some advice on planning out an MCSE lab. I'm going for the Windows Server 2003 MCSE and I don't have a clue as to what kind of hardware I will need. Do I need two servers? Can some of the work and installations be done using an MS virtual server? Also, what would be the best order to take these exams in? I've already passed the 70-270 exam, but I'm not sure what order to tackle the server exams. Any advice would be great, thanks!!

The path I decided on is:
70-270 - already passed
70-260 (elective)
"expect nothing, prepare for anything"


  • dynamikdynamik Banned Posts: 12,312 ■■■■■■■■■□
    What are the specs on your system now? Going with VMWare or Virtual PC 2007 will likely be the most economical solution. I can run four 2003 servers and two XP clients with a gig of ram (dedicated to the VMs - I have 2gb total) and 4gb of disk space allocated to each VM. You're just going to be configuring basic settings and sending small amounts of data between them, so a decent CPU will be more than enough to get you by.
  • HeroPsychoHeroPsycho Inactive Imported Users Posts: 1,940
    Since VMWare experience is in demand, I'd use VMWare, not a Microsoft virtualization product. Might as well get what is currently more valuable experience. VMWare Server is free.

    Go with a Quadcore processor, AMD or Intel if you can. If not, make sure you get a dual core that is optimized for virtualization, and can do 64-bit (almost all can). Make sure the processor you select is supported for 64-bit VM hosting if you're using VMWare. Rule of thumb with Intel - if it has virtualization optimization, it supports 64-bit guest VM's. If it doesn't have the optimization, it does not support guest 64-bit OS's, regardless if the Intel chip itself supports 64-bit. With AMD, later revisions of their 64-bit CPU's do support it even if they don't have virtualization optimization, but check to be sure.

    As cheap as DDR2 is, get at least four gigs of RAM, 8 if you can.

    Have at least two hard drives, one with your host OS, the other to run your guest OS's on.

    Load a 64-bit host OS, so you can do 64-bit VM's in addition to 32-bit. This is very handy if you for example want to learn something that's 64-bit, such as Exchange 2007. You can use Linux for a host OS, so even if you don't already have a 64-bit OS license, you can still do this cheaply and legally.

    One last piece of advice I'd give you - don't make your elective the Vista exam. Get something like Exchange 2003/2007, SQL, Sharepoint, etc. I have no problem with Vista, I love the OS, etc., but get something that might open the door for you to get experience with more server class products. As a potential employer, I'd be far more impressed with if you had knowledge/skills with one of those products than Vista, wouldn't you?
    Good luck to all!
  • dynamikdynamik Banned Posts: 12,312 ■■■■■■■■■□
    Those recommended specs are pretty steep. While that might be an ideal setup, you can get by with much, much less. You can also run a 64-bit VM in a 32-bit host OS if you have compatible hardware. You will need a 64-bit host OS to utilize more than 3.x GB of RAM though. I also agree about taking something other than Vista for your elective; I didn't notice that originally. It'd be nice for you to branch out a bit. However, you will need Vista for the 2008 MCITPs, so taking it now will get that out of the way as well. You can always tack other certs on later. It's really up to you.
  • HeroPsychoHeroPsycho Inactive Imported Users Posts: 1,940
    Hey Dynamik,

    What version of VMWare are you using? I wasn't able to do that when I tried. Weird!

    And yeah, you certainly can get by with less. Remember though that a Quadcore AMD Phenom is not expensive (as little as $200 shipped for the proc on newegg right now). And I recently saw a 4GB kit on sale for about $50 after rebate in DDR2. So those specs may seem like a box consisting of those parts would cost a lot, but quite honestly, it's not that bad!

    Say it with me...

    w00t for cheap hardware!

    Good luck to all!
  • dynamikdynamik Banned Posts: 12,312 ■■■■■■■■■□
    I'm using VMWare Workstation 6.
  • skippingdiscmanskippingdiscman Member Posts: 9 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks for the input folks. I'm running a Dell PowerEdge 2600 with dual Xeon 3Ghz processors. 1 Gig of RAM and four 73G drives. I guess I need to bump up the RAM a bit otherwise I'll be choking this thing. I know it's a pretty ancient server compared to some of the stuff today.
    "expect nothing, prepare for anything"
  • jkstechjkstech Member Posts: 330
    get some more ram and you'll be fine with that machine. Get as much ram as you can afford, more ram= more virtual machines running at once.
    get back to studying!!!
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