Recently i’ve been looking for the possibility of setting up my own lab environment. I deeply feel the need of a lab, so i can troubleshoot certain (customer) issues and of course get familiar with new products and/or features. Correct me if I’m wrong but our clients expect us, and i don’t think it’s only in the IT, that you stay up-to-date with the latest feature(s) of a product? If you have a good employer he/she will pay for your course and/or exam(s). In case you’re a Freelance IT Consultant, take me for example, you’ll need to take care if it yourself (aspect of planning and paying). That’s not necessarily a bad thing because you can plan according to your own agenda. The point i’m trying to make is that if you’re a Freelance IT Consultant you’re even more ‘obligated’ to have this sorted out correctly. Make a plan every year with new goals and wishes of courses and/or exams you would like to follow/take.
So, the first question I asked myself: What am i planning to run in my lab? Am i going to rebuild my lab now and then or will it be a lab that needs to be running for a while? Personally, I think it’s a good idea of having a lab that’s 24×7 available. You don’t need to waste any time of starting up your lab (and shutting it down of course). My choice has been that i want something for the long run. So basically, i’ll need to setup a new domain which i can use with specific applications/solutions. Things I would like to get in place are Microsoft Windows Server, Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM), Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) and Microsoft SQL Server. These products are just the top of a long list i would like to work with in my lab the next few months.
The second question that raised my mind was: Am i going to build my lab environment in the cloud (Azure/AWS) or am i going to build it on-premise? That question was relatively easy to answer because i still have some hardware on the attic. A couple of barebones, stuffed with a fast processor and quite amount of RAM. I think it’s a waste to leave them up there and not make use of them at all. One of these days i’ll inventory the complete specs of these machines and see it if it’s still all usable or if i need to replace/add some hardware. On top of the on-premise solution i want to setup solutions in the cloud like Single Sing-On (SSO), Cloud Backup, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) and tons more.
The third question, and the foundation of this blog, is the need of (Microsoft) licenses. How am i going to setup my lab without any licenses? I think there are a few options to consider:
For more details on the Microsoft Action Pack:
So, in short, if you’re looking for an affordable set of Microsoft licenses please have a look at Microsoft Action Pack. I think it’s a really nice solution for setting up my lab environment. Because of the pricing, and what you get for it in return, i thought i will dedicate a short blog on this topic.
That is it for now, please feel free to let me know of you have any questions or comments on this blog.
Thanks, and regards,