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How to Build a Private Cloud Using Microsoft Technologies

Part 1 - Building a free basic private cloud infrastructure

***This is a LIVING document*** I will be updating this article from time to time as things like Release Updates, Hotfixes, Service Packs and other updates come into being. Please check back often to get the latest information. I will keep the revision list updated at the bottom so you know what changes have been made. This is also *NOT* a complete Private Cloud solution. there are many, many pieces to creating and managing a private cloud including things like - rapid deployment via templates, elasticity and scalability, high availability and redundancy, virtual machine mobility, automation, service management, usage based charge back and more. i recommend you check out http://www.microsoft.com/privatecloud to see the full story.

This document will guide you through the process of setting up the bare minimum components to demo a Private Cloud environment using current release versions of Microsoft products and technologies. It is NOT meant for nor is it an ideal configuration for use in a production environment. If you have a Technet or MSDN subscription then you have all the software you need already. Otherwise you can download FREE TRIAL versions of all the necessary components from the Microsoft Technet Evaluation Center.

Once the installation and configuration are complete, you will be able to demo the use of System Center Virtual Machine Manager and the SCVMM Self Service Portal 2.0 to build and manage a Private Cloud. With additional software and hardware resources, this configuration can be expanded to include additional System Center Technologies to demonstrate a much broader Private Cloud implementation including monitoring, reporting, change management, deployment and more. There are free trial versions of all the System Center products at the Microsoft Technet Evaluation Center.

There is an assumption that you have at least a basic knowledge of the roles and services in Windows 2008 R2, a cursory knowledge of how to install SQL Server 2008 R2, and a basic understanding of how the System Center Virtual Machine Manager works. Additional documents and walkthroughs may be produced for more detail. If there is something you would like to have more information on, please comment to this blog post and let me know.

If you plan on doing this in a single sitting, bring plenty of your favorite caffeinated beverage, some good music to listen to, maybe even a good book, and lot of patience. There is a lot of "hurry up and wait" that takes place during this setup. Expect to spend 6-10 hours depending on how fast your hardware is and how efficient you are. This guide could be condensed even further to combine certain steps and reduce setup time slightly but I have opted to make it as fool proof as possible. If you follow this guide exactly, you should not see any errors or failures during the installation.

The resultant demo configuration does not provide for any failover or redundancy and is intended solely as a lightweight demo/test/learning environment. The concepts here can be used as a template to install a production Private Cloud, but please, do not implement this configuration in production without speaking to the appropriate persons that administer your network. If you implement this in production, you do so at your own risk and you should have an updated resume available.

Architecture:

 

Host Machine - Windows Server 2008 R2 + SP1 + all post SP1 Updates

Roles: Active Directory Domain Services, DNS Server, Hyper-V, Web Server (IIS)

Software: SQL Server 2008 R2 x64, System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 Server Components and Administrator Console, SCVMM Self Service Portal 2.0

Guest VM's - Once this install is complete, you can create whatever guest VM's you like to use for testing and demoing. In a future document I will detail a list of resources you may wish to create so you have a relevant test and demo environment.

Hardware Requirements:

I personally recommend using a desktop computer because of the drive options available. However, a high-end laptop can be used. I have performed this install to both hardware platforms in the following configurations:

Laptop: Lenovo W510 (quad processor + hyper-threading), 16gigs RAM, (1) 7200rpm SATA drive for host operating system, (1) 140gig Solid State Drive for guest VM storage

***This is the platform I used when creating this document***

Pros: Compact, very portable

Cons: Disk I/O and potential CPU bottlenecks decreases performance. This can be mitigated by investing is higher end disk drive and/or a laptop with greater processing capabilities but increases the cost dramatically. Overall a more expensive solution even with lower end components.

Desktop: Quad-processor CPU, 16gigs RAM, (1) 7200rpm for host operating system, (2 or more ) 7200rpm+ SATA drives for guest VM storage (these drives can be striped as RAID-0 for additional performance *or* they can be formatted independently and place guest VM's on separate spindles. For my desktop implementation at home I am using the RAID-0 option)

Pros: Better performance due to disk drive configuration options. Lower cost of desktop PC components make this a less expensive solution even with higher end hardware.

Cons: More of a fixed solution, less portable. Could potentially use an ultra-mini case or small "media center" type case to increase portability, however, desk top components are not designed to be moved around a lot so you are at a higher risk of component failure.

I also *highly recommend* a high capacity dedicated external storage device for backup up configurations along the way. The entirety of this private cloud configuration is relatively simple but the overall process is time consuming. The more frequently you backup/snapshot at key stages the less likely you will be to spend rebuilding from scratch.

Software Requirements:

If you have a Technet or MSDN subscription you have everything you need. If you do not have a Technet or MSDN subscription you can use free trial software for everything. Just be mindful of the individual timebombs and make note of when things expire. Using the pieces below you should be able to run for 180 days from the day the Host machine OS is installed.

Windows Server 2008 R2 with SP1 Trial

System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 with SP1 Trial

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Trial (get the 64bit version)

Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self-Service Portal 2.0 with SP1

Suggested Pre-Reading/Learning:

An assumption is being made that you are familiar with installing and configuring Windows Server 2008 R2 and its related Roles and Features. If not, then you should bookmark and leverage the following -

Microsoft Technet Windows Server TechCenter

Additional Resources:

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 TechCenter

System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 TechCenter

System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self-Service Portal 2.0 TechCenter

The Heavy Lifting - Installing the components

This section of the guide will walk you through the installation of each and every piece of the Microsoft Private Cloud solution. I have chosen an abbreviated rapid fire approach to this install. There are no screen shots. I do not go into detail around the choices made on the selection screens. If the options on a screen are not discussed in the document, you can assume the default selections will suffice.

There is a lot of opportunity to customize things along the way. There is a lot of opportunity to poke around and make changes during setup or while waiting on files to copy. I recommend that you NOT do this if you can avoid it. This document should provide a 100% success rate with ZERO errors during install if you follow it exactly. If you choose to stray and make changes during the install, you do so at the risk of your own time invested in this process.

Grab that caffeinated beverage. Take a big sip. Start your music. Take a deep breath. Here we go....

Install the Hyper-V Host

Windows Server 2008 R2 is the foundation up which we build the entire private cloud. The leverage the built-in Hyper-V hypervisor for virtualizing the servers, clients and their applications that can then be served up through the self-service portal. It is absolutely essential that the base server is installed properly and is 100% stable.

Pre-install hardware configuration - Ensure that you have enabled virtualization support in the BIOS of your computer. How this is managed/enabled depends on the PC Manufacturer and the BIOS used. You should also make sure the Data Execution Prevention (DEP) is active. There is a great blog post that talks about how to do this here -- http://blogs.technet.com/b/iftekhar/archive/2010/08/09/enable-hardware-settings-in-bios-to-run-hyper-v.aspx

*I recommend rebooting after each line item below*

Install Windows 2008 R2

Install any BIOS updates/hardware drivers/manufacturer updates for your system

Install SP1 (can be skipped if you installed Windows 2008 R2 + SP1 integrated)

Install all post-SP1 updates from Windows Update

*after each update install completes, reboot and run

Windows Update until no further updates are offered*

Optional - Rename host to desired friendly name

Install Necessary Windows Server Roles and Features

Add the Role: Active Directory Domain Services

Run the Active Directory Domain Services installation wizard (dcpromo.exe)

Create a new domain in a new forest

Supply FQDN of the new forest root domain (ie; privatecloud.local)

Supply Domain NetBIOS name (ie; PRIVATECLOUD)

Select Forest Functional Level (Windows 2003 is fine)

Select Domain Functional Level (Windows 2003 is fine)

Allow DNS to be installed (Assign Static IP if necessary)

(***I assigned a static IP address/mask for my local subnet and pointed to my default gateway. I then configured DNS with forwarders of 4.2.2.1 and 4.2.2.2 â€" These are AT&Tâ€TMs public DNS servers. This allows for Internet access to download Windows Updates or other software needed***)

Location for Database, Log Files, SYSVOL = Default

Assign Password for Directory Services Restore Mode

Complete Wizard and Reboot

Add the Role: Hyper-V

Create Virtual Network: Attach to local Ethernet

Complete Wizard and Reboot

Allow Wizard to Complete and Reboot

Install Web Server (IIS) Role

IIS is required by the Self Service Portal 2.0. The portal also requires specific Web Server (IIS) role services and the Message Queueing Feature to be enabled.

Add the Role: (Web Server IIS) - Next

Role Services - Select:

Static Content

Default Document

ASP.NET

.NET Extensibility

ISAPI Extensions

ISAPI Filters

Request Filtering

Windows Authentication

IIS6 Metabase Compatibility

Confirmation - Install

Add the Feature: Message Queueing - Next

Confirmation - Install

Windows Server 2008 R2 Foundation is now complete!

The Windows Server 2008 R2 + Hyper-V host is now complete. There are a few (not really) optional steps below you may wish to take just for your own sanity.

Optional (recommended) - Install Windows Server Backup Features

Optional (recommended) - Perform Bare Metal Recovery Backup to external storage using Windows Backup (or the backup system of your choice)

Install SQL Server 2008 R2
SQL Server 2008 R2 is used for storing configuration information for System Center Virtual Machine Manager and the SCVMM Self-Service Portal. You do not need to be a SQL guru to get things up and running or even for day to day operations. You can pretty much forget about SQL except for routine patching. The exception to this (there are always exceptions) is if you use this document to implement a Private Cloud in a production environment using an existing production SQL Server. In that case, I beg you to speak to your SQL Admin *BEFORE* doing anything with SQL. You have been warned.

Launch SQL setup

New Installation or add features to an existing installation

Enter Product key or Specify a free edition

Accept License

Setup Support Files - Install

Setup Support Rules - Address any issues - Next

SQL Server Feature Installation - Next

Feature Selection - Select

Database Engine Services

Management Tools Basic

Default paths - Next

Installation Rules - Next

Default Instance (MSSQLSERVER) - Next

Disk Space Requirements - Next

Use the same account for all SQL server services

(if this host will be connecting to a network or the Internet then I suggest following SQL security guidelines and create unique accounts for each service. If you will only be using this for non-Network connected demonstrations, you can use the domainname\Administrator account for simplicity)

Supply credentials - Next

Windows authentication mode - Add current user - domainname\Administrator - Next

Error Reporting - Your choice - Next

Installation Configuration Rules - Next

Ready to Install - Summary - Install

Complete - Close

Windows Update - Check for Updates - Install - Reboot

(This one takes quite a while. Go get something to eat.)

Install System Center Virtual Machine Manager R2 + SP1

VMM Server Component

Start SCVMM Setup - Setup - VMM Server

Accept License - Next

CEIP - Your choice - Next

Product Registration - Fill in - Next

Prerequisite Check - Next

Installation Location - Default is fine - Next

SQL Server Settings - Use a supported version of SQL Server:

Server name: <name of localhost>

Check - Use the following credentials:

User name: <domain>\Administrator

Password: <password>

Select or enter a SQL instance: Drop down to MSSQLSERVER

Select or enter a database: <enter a database name; ie; SCVMMDB>

Check - Create a new database

Library Share Settings

Create a new library share - Defaults are fine - Next

Installation Settings

Ports - Defaults are fine

VMM Server Account - Local System is fine - Next

Summary of Settings - Install

Install the VMM Administrator Console
Once the Virtual Machine Manager Administrator Console is installed, this will become the primary interface used when dealing with your virtualization infrastructure. There will be times you will want or need to go back to the standard Hyper-V MMC, but you should get comfortable with the SCVMM Administrator console for day-to-day operations.

Start SCVMM Setup - Setup - VMM Administrator Console

Accept License - Next

CEIP - Your choice - Next

Prerequisite Check - Next

Installation Location - Default is fine - Next

Port - 8100 - Default is fine

Summary of Settings - Install

Windows Update - Check for Updates - Install - Reboot

Take a deep breath. Switch from caffeine to ....something more calming. You are almost done.

Almost....

Install the SCVMM Self-Service Portal 2.0 with SP1

***Note - You probably noticed an option to install a Self Service Portal from with the SCVMM Setup interface. DO NOT INSTALL THIS VERSION. It is an older version and does not provide the most current functionality. Download the SSP 2.0 + SP1 version from the link in the "Software Requirements" section of this document.***

The Self-Service Portal is one of the defining features of the Microsoft Private Cloud. Through this portal, administrators can create resource pools consisting of networks, storage, load balancers, virtual machine templates and domains. Administrators can then create and manage business units who can use the self-service portal to requests these pools of resources and create them on demand.

Start SSP2.0 Setup

Getting Starter - (License page) - Accept - Next

Select

VMMSSP Server Component

VMMSSP Website Component

Next

Prerequisite Page - Should be all green - Next

VMMSSP Files - Default is fine - Next

Database Server: <localhost name>

Click - Get Instances

SQL Server Instance: Default

Credentials: Connect using Windows Authentication

Create a new Database or.....: Create a new database

Next

Provide an account for the server component

User Name: Administrator

Password: <password>

Domain: <domainname>

Test Account - Next

Configure WCF Endpoints - Defaults are fine - Next

Provide a list of Database Administrators

<domainname>\Administrator

Next

Configure the IIS web site for the VMMSSP website component

IIS website name: VMMSSP <default>

Port Number: 81 <you cannot use 80 since it is assigned to the default web site>

Application pool name: VMMSSPAppPool <default>

User Name: Administrator

Password : <password>

Domain: <domainname>

Next

Installation Summary - Install - Yes to Dialog

Close the final window.

Windows Update - Check for Updates - Install - Reboot

Once logged in:

Delete any setup files or unnecessary files/data you will not use for demonstration purposes

Empty the Recycle Bin

NOT OPTIONAL - Perform Bare Metal Recovery Backup to external storage using Windows Backup (or the backup system of your choice). Trust me. At this point you have 6-10 hours invested in this setup and you do NOT want to have to start over.

You now have the hardware and software in place to demo a private cloud!

However, a Private Cloud is more about the HOW you use the infrastructure to create value, provide self-service, reduce overheard, automate resource creation and ultimately - reduce costs.

In the next document I produce, I will define a list of resources to create using the Hyper-V MMC, System Center Virtual Machine Manager, and the SCVMM Self-Service portal. I will then do a few recorded demos with these resources that you can customize for your own demonstration purposes.

Call To Action

Download a hard copy of this document for your own reference -

http://blogs.technet.com/chrisavis

Bookmark my blog and watch for more posts and screen casts on Private Cloud. Here are some of the Planned Posts/Content/Screencasts I am working on:

Configuring Basic Resources for use in a Private Cloud

Creating virtual hard disks

Creating virtual machines

Creating templates in SCVMM

Creating Hardware and OS profiles in SCVMM

Configuring and using the Self-Service Portal 2.0

Initial Configuration

Creating and managing Infrastructures

Working with Virtual Machines

Managing User Roles and Business Units

Walking through the Request process

If there is a particular feature or process you would like to know more about, please contact me through a comment to this post or in email and we will discuss getting it produced.

For now, have fun playing with your new Private Cloud! (AFTER that bare metal recovery backup!)

Cheers!

Revision Log

v1.0 - Completed on September 5th, 2011

v1.1 - Minor spelling and grammar corrections; added "Living Document" Note at beginning of post; added some mandatory reboot notations in section dealing with role installation; added info on BIOS and DEP actions

More Stories By Chris Avis

Chris started his career at Microsoft in 1994 as a contract customer service representative during the Windows 95 launch. Prior to applying with the company, he did not know who Bill Gates was or what Microsoft did. Why? He was a hard core Apple user and had been since the late '70s.

Chris left the company as a contractor in 1996 and returned one year later as a full-time employee supporting networking technologies for Windows NT 4.0 Server and client connectivity. Shortly afterward, he started supporting the Small Business Server product. In 2002, Chris took on the role of IT Evangelist and speaking to IT Professionals about the great products and technologies Microsoft had to offer. Since then he has embraced live events and social media (Twitter - @chrisavis, blog – http://chrisavis.com) as a way to get the word out to IT professionals in the US and around the world. When not geeking out on technology, Chris enjoys camping, hiking and traveling. He is also an avid Guitar Hero player and karaoke singer.

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