Do you have a Lab? Prelude to a build,…

Recently, I decided a good course of action would be to stay updated on the technology released by MS, specifically around the SQL Server space I like to work within. As part of that initiative, the MS Exam courses seemed as good as I can get to being sure my skills are up to date. If you haven’t looked into them lately, they aren’t like they used to be. MS has made the exams much more difficult, I believe in an attempt to get the real qualified folks in the market with genuine skill.

I passed the first exam with very little trouble, 70-461 was all about T-SQL programming and that’s something I’ve been doing for a long time, very long time actually. Having had the benefit of working with some outstanding people, I’d learned a lot and only had a few new features to brush up on,.. no sweat.

Exam 70-462 is the Administration exam. All the admin tasks; installing, configuring, monitoring, troubleshooting, etc. are covered in this exam. Part of exam prep is creating a lab environment in which to work. So, having an MSDN license to myself or access to one becomes critical! The setup requires a domain controller and 5 SQL instances, one of which runs on server core! NO UI!! Ouch,.. so as you can imagine working with no GUI becomes a headache for an old guy, but the command line isn’t foreign by any stretch.

Digging in,.. Being a one man show I needed to figure out how I might install 6 servers, 5 with SQL Server and keep the cost to a minimum. Finally ended up deciding to go the VM route which now I know was the right choice. The machine I chose is a 6 core 3.5GHz, 32GB RAM box and the VM’s would sit on a RAID 5 array. The main OS is Windows 10 Pro which supports Hyper-V, and all of this I had in house making realized costs minimal. Adding some drive space and a SSD as the boot drive seemed logical and really helped the machine to pop.

Working these many years I’ve always been a consumer of the VM, using the OS as installed and leveraging the exposed storage. Working with some of the best in the business afforded me that luxury. Getting on with it,. I enabled Hyper-V on the machine after making sure my storage solution was what I wanted. Hyper-V really doesn’t seem to support a whole lot on a machine configured as mine is, the virtual machines it creates only have a C drive, and I’m still trying to figure out how to get new LUN’s presented to these VM’s, but for now it all works.

Most IT Pro’s know that Server 2016 is pretty well locked down, so there’s a process to using Server Core mode instead of having a GUI. More can be found about that here.  This time around SQL is installed on three VM’s in the environment, one of which is Windows Server Core.  The Windows Servers are 2016, the Core instance is Data Center Edition (because I could) and I’m using SQL Server 2014 Developer Edition for all of these demo’s.  SQL 2012 and 2014 seem to be what most clients are still running.  Later, I’ll upgrade to SQL 2016 Developer on some new VM’s.

Next time,… checking connections between server instances, installing the Adventure Works Database on a couple of nodes. Getting wet with Hyper-V, adding drives to a VM for your database file storage.

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