Resources/lab for the MCSE: Private Cloud?

EssendonEssendon Posts: 4,548Member ■■■■■■■■■■
Awright, looks like I need to get this cert for work. The VCAP5-DCA needs to go on hold, for now icon_sad.gif

The download for System Center 2012 is in progress as I type this. What resources apart from TechNet do you suggest for this exam and for learning the product. Please note that I need to learn the material more and gain a decent understanding of the product rather than just pass the exam.

Those of you that have got this cert or are studying towards it, what lab setup did you have? Your host OS was Windows Server 2012 or the standalone version of Hyper-v? Did you have the various components of System Center as individual VM's? Did you find any books beneficial for the exam? I havent used any MS Press books for my exams apart from the 290. It's all been a home lab, TechNet and other books (the Unleashed kind).

Big TIA!
NSX, NSX, more NSX..

Blog >> http://virtual10.com

Comments

  • tycoonbobtycoonbob Posts: 81Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    If I had realized no one had responded yet, I would have stepped up earlier. It's be a hectic week for me with work, and the holidays just around the corner...but anyway.

    I have my MCSE: Private Cloud, and the information I am putting below is in reference to just the two System Center 2012 exams (246 and 247). Aside from those two exams, you also have to have your MCSA: 2008 or MCSA: 2012.

    I'm a hands on kinda guy, so having a System Center lab was pivotal. My lab consists of two Hyper-V hosts, and a custom built SAN server. With this, I was able to build out all of the System Center 2012 products, and build a Private Cloud from VMM with the appropriate storage scenario. My Hyper-V hosts were running Server 2008 R2 at the time, since most of the System Center 2012 stuff CURRENTLY DOES NOT SUPPORT SERVER 2012. Service Pack 1 was RTM'd last week, and should be GA in Jan...and that will allow you to manage/deploy Server 2012/Win 8. So until SP1, VMM cannot manage Server 2012 Hyper-V hosts. I rebuilt my lab, but haven't reinstalled any System Center products yet, since I am waiting on SP1 (since direct upgrades are not supported in most cases).

    I would never install more than 1 System Center product on a server, especially in a virtualized environment. However, if resources are tight in a lab setting...I'm sure it can be done. I would only group certain products together, but App Controller is small enough it can be installed along with any of the other stuff, if needed. In production...you will never do this. The thing about the MCSE: Private Cloud is that it's all about making ALL 7 of the System Center 2012 products work together, by utilizing Management Packs and Integration Packs. That's one piece you will have to understand for the exams. Service Manager can be as complicated, or as simple as you want it...my first rendition of my lab was using 1 VM for SCSM, where as my second rendition used 3 VMs...for practice scaling out (it all depends on the number of client/objects that are involved). SCCM (Configuration Manager) can also be a single VM, or if you want to play around with CAS and multiple Primary and/or Secondary site, it can be several VMs). SCVMM (Virtual Machine Manager...probably only 1 VM). App Controller...yeah, only one VM. Orchestrator...that could be done on 1 VM (and usually is in my lab) but if you plan on using Orchestrator heavily to run with ALL the System Center products in a production environment...you probably want more than 1 Runbook server. DPM (Data Protection Manager) can be done with 1 VM, but if you want DPM to be able to backup Hyper-V hosts and to be restored to a different location, remember to install the Hyper-V Server Role on your DPM VM (you can install it, but it won't work...and that's fine). For DPM you have to make sure you have a storage situation covered, which is where my custom SAN played in. I carved out a 500GB LUN, used iSCSI and attached that VHD to my DPM server for backups of my lab environment. Lastly...OpsMgr (Operations Manager)...yeah, 1 VM in a lab environment.

    Also remember that you have to have a domain, so at the minimum AD DS and DNS have to be in your...probably want DHCP too if you build out any test Win7 clients to play around with stuff better. Having an Exchange server built out furthers the experience, giving you the ability to play around with the Exchange Connector in SCCM, have your Orchestrator Runbooks do things in Exchange, and of course gives you the ability to set up Alerts/Notifications/Subscriptions. Lastly, in case you aren't aware yet...you will definitely be playing around with SQL. SQL Server 2008 R2 SP2 for the most part, to be specific.

    There is a lot of content out there on TechNet, and there are also MVA Labs for each System Product as well. There is a LOT of content to cover here, so be prepared to learn a lot!

    Good luck!
  • EssendonEssendon Posts: 4,548Member ■■■■■■■■■■
    First, I'd like to thank you for the invaluable input you've given. Great stuff!

    Question for you, is it possible to run a lab (the kind you've described above) in a nested environment? When I did the VCP5 and prepped for the VCAP-DCA, I had multiple nested virtual ESXi5 servers inside of a physical ESXi5 VM. I'll find out soon if I can nest Hyper-v inside of Hyper-v (the download of a vhd file of the server OS is in progress as I type this), but will all 7 components work inside virtual machines?

    I ask the above question as I dont have two beefy machines to play with. I have a DL380 G5 with 32GB RAM and TB's of SAS disks but other machine I have is just a dual-core E6550 (does VT-x) with 8GB RAM and 2TB of disk. Probably can install Hyper-v on the slower machine but can I reproduce your lab, or come close to it?

    I had thought of cranking out a few VM's on my server. I'd have Starwind SAN on one VM for storage, one VM would have been AD/DNS and the other 7 VM's would have been the various System Center components. I'd probably have some RAM left over for scaling out the various System Center components as needed. Whadyathink?

    Prepared to learn a lot, I dont worry about putting the hours in. Once the goal has been established, there are no ifs/buts.

    Thank you for your advice once again.
    NSX, NSX, more NSX..

    Blog >> http://virtual10.com
  • BloogenBloogen Posts: 180Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    Since you are familiar with VMWare you can always just nest the Hyper-V hosts in Workstation of ESXi.
  • tycoonbobtycoonbob Posts: 81Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    First let me say that I am not a big VMware guy. I am assuming that by Nested you mean running a VM on a VM, which is definitely not possible with Hyper-V...and I didn't think it was with VMware.

    However, if you have the host servers with plenty of resources, you could build out all the system center servers and put them on their on virtual network, to segregate it from everything else.

    All 7 System Center 2012 products will run in a virtual environment (which is how mine is set up), and of course an 8th VM for AD DS/DNS/DHCP, and a possible 9th for Exchange (and 10th for your Starwind stuff).

    RAM wise, your DL380 will be enough to run all 7 System Center products. Assuming you have at least 8 cores/threads on that box, I would say you will be fine there as well (dual quad cores with hyperthreading or something like that). The 2 core machine could definitely run Hyper-V, and could easily handle 2 VMs (your Domain Controller--AD DS/DNS/DHCP, and the System Center 2012 App Controller VM).

    I think you have the hardware to run everything. You wouldn't be able to install Hyper-V inside of ESXi, so you would either have to install Server 2008 R2 (or 2012) on your physical boxes, so you could attach the VHDs and use them...or just build the lab out in VMware (but you will still need Hyper-V experience).

    Best of luck to you!
  • cyberguyprcyberguypr Senior Member Posts: 6,843Mod Mod
    A few days ago I was revising my cert plans and realized I can complete my MCSE Private Cloud if I take 70-246 by Jan 31st. I was actually looking this morning into redoing my lab for this test. This video and this blog mention 8 machines required for testing. I'm also wondering if you can combine some stuff.
  • EssendonEssendon Posts: 4,548Member ■■■■■■■■■■
    I installed Windows Server 2012 and then Workstation 8 on my server, tried to install the hyper-v role in a VM and it gave me a big red X saying you cannot run a hypervisor inside of a hypervisor. After a few days of mucking around, I've installed a trial copy of Windows 8 and will be using the Client Hyper-v feature to do my labbing. Dunno if can install the Hyper-v role inside there, but my main goal right now is to lab up on System Center as much as possible for an upcoming deployment at work.

    I'll let you guys know how I fare.
    NSX, NSX, more NSX..

    Blog >> http://virtual10.com
  • tycoonbobtycoonbob Posts: 81Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    Essendon wrote: »
    I installed Windows Server 2012 and then Workstation 8 on my server, tried to install the hyper-v role in a VM and it gave me a big red X saying you cannot run a hypervisor inside of a hypervisor. After a few days of mucking around, I've installed a trial copy of Windows 8 and will be using the Client Hyper-v feature to do my labbing. Dunno if can install the Hyper-v role inside there, but my main goal right now is to lab up on System Center as much as possible for an upcoming deployment at work.

    I'll let you guys know how I fare.

    That is correct. You cannot install a hypervisor inside of a hypervisor, since the second hypervisor would NOT have access to the hardware for virtualization. Can you do this with ESXi? I am really surprised if you can...

    Windows 8, aka Client Hyper-V, for the most part...is the same. It should provide you what you need as long as you have the resources for the VMs you need. I am going to say 5 VMs minimum to install everything (combining VMM and App Controller in one VM, and Ops Manager and DPM in another VM...ConfigMgr to its own VM, Service Manager on it's own, and Orchestrator on it's own VM), but I would recommend a VM for each System Center product.
  • EssendonEssendon Posts: 4,548Member ■■■■■■■■■■
    Thanks once again for taking the time to reply! Nesting ESXi inside of ESXi can most definitely be done. Here's the link > virtuallyGhetto: How to Enable Nested ESXi & Other Hypervisors in vSphere 5.1

    Pity this cannot be done in Hyper-v, when I labbed for my VCP5 and VCAP5 there were no issues with nesting ESXi, in fact it worked quite a treat. It's just passing on the physical hardware to the nested VM. Wonder why MS didnt put this in.

    I'll consider everything you've said and should have the lab built out in a day or two. Will report back on how it all goes.
    NSX, NSX, more NSX..

    Blog >> http://virtual10.com
  • tycoonbobtycoonbob Posts: 81Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    Hmm, very interesting. I see that it's an unsupported feature, and honestly I don't see the need for this in a Hyper-V environment...but definitely cool. If you need a lab segregated from everything else, use a private network.

    Neat, none the less. Good luck with your lab and let me know if you have any questions!
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