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Windows Server “8” demo lab hardware setup – Regular IT guy

Windows Server “8” demo lab hardware setup

After mulling things around for a while, consulting anyone who had an opinion on the topic and consuming various beverages over time – I finally sat down and planned out my portable demo lab for Windows Server”8” things.  I’ll be using it to create demos to share with the community and showing them off at various public events over time. I had some criteria to adhere to:

  • Has to be portable.
  • Has to have significant muscle to virtualize a large number of hosts.
  • One system has to dual boot to my “corporate image” so I can stay productive (this requires a bitlocker’d drive)
  • support multiple drives for better disk IO for virtualization
  • Large enough screens to work on stage

I’ve mostly settled on these two systems for my base configuration.

  1. Lenovo W520 with 32 GB ram, internal SSD (160GB for OS) and DriveBay extended 2nd SSHD (250 GB for VMs).
  2. Lenovo T410 with 8 GB of ram, internal 500GB HD. Smaller – lighter, but still powerful


I am trying to get the size and weight down – I do have to carry this around with me on flights. My issue is the screen size. I need a large screen in order to have a more comfortable demo experience.


(maybe I am just getting old)

That being said – I will probably switch out the T410 for my much loved Dell-A-Saurus a.k.a. Precision mobile workstation M6500. It has 16 GB ram, dual hard drives and a large screen.

Setup for the system? Windows Server “8” obviously. The Hyper-V role installed. I am starting with the GUI to get things configured – then I will be REMOVING in order to walk the walk and talk the talk of best security configurations and headless management capabilities. More on the exact configuration in my next post.

Networking? well – For now, since it’s setup time – I am using a simple consumer grade router to NAT my internet connection and isolate the two systems from the corporate network. Works well if I need to plug into something like a hotel internet / conference internet and share it between the systems.  I’ll be hard coding the IPs and making them self sufficient so that I COULD just have an Ethernet cable between them and still pull off Live Migration demos.

I’ll be documenting and sharing my setup experiences and demos here on the blog. stay tuned for more details and posts on setup configuration and demo scenarios you can build yourself.

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Check out the T420s, its a pretty deadly portable machine. You can get an i7, 16gb and run dual drives in it also and its super light with a big screen. Just got one from work and am loving it, nicest laptop i’ve had to use as a tool yet!

  • Hey there. I love the website. I have a very similar set up – T410 running Server 2012 and a Windows 8 VM. I have two questions:

    1. Do you use wifi? I am having a lot of problems with wifi drivers on the T410 with Server 2012.
    2. I like the way you use NAT to isolate the virtual network. Please can you provide me with any steps to do this so I can do the same?



    • As the article says – I am just using a consumer grade NAT router (in this case it was a D-Link router) so the two systems would have a GB between them on the switch and a NAT connection to whatever network I was connecting too.

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