When you start to build your lab environment you set the goal to build the perfect one. You thinking of all the scenarios you want to cover and all the resources, functions and configurations you want to add. In many cases you actually want to mirror your entire production environment. When you realise that you isn't gone reach the the goal of a perfect lab environment you enthusiasm and drive tends to disappear.
My experience from many lab environments of my own but also lab environments built by my customers have teach me to plan the use of the environment before I start to build. An effective lab environment should address areas that are critical for the business and known or assumed weaknesses. Normally when you found what is important you realise that the lab environment can be built with less resources but needs the ability to be flexible when I comes to configuration.
I think my findings are thru for most it related environments but it certainly true for lab environments hosting computer client management systems. I have seen the most ambitions environment setups replicating entire production environment including everything and they are all great from the start but when production start changing it is hard to replicate and takes lots of hours to maintain.
The perfect lab environment for upKeeper is quit simple and I know for a fact it addresses all important areas you can think of. It looks basically like this.
In this setup you have a Windows Server 2019 domain controller with DHCP, DNS and WDS features added. The second Windows Server 2019 is where all upKeeper component are installed. It is a standard windows server with the IIS feature added and Microsoft SQL server installed. Two clients are used so that you quickly can test different client setup and configurations but it is not necessary if you don't have the hardware resources required. We added a virtual firewall, OPNsense, to keep the network clean from other traffic. This setup is easy to maintain and you can do almost any test except hardware related.
I have used this setup since 2010 in a VMware environment with two physical computer clients for the first five years and after that with only virtual clients. We have tested all kind of scenarios in this environment even simulated large number of clients and slow connections.
By the end of 2020 we decides it was time to build a new environment to use for research and documentation. We went to the whiteboard and started to plan this perfect environment where every scenario could be shown and all upcoming features researched, but once again we realize we better stick with the basics.
This new lab environment is actually built on a Intel NUC and you can read all about it in the article, Lab environment in a small package. On the Intel NUC we run Microsoft Hyper-V and you can read how we installed and configured it in the following article Windows Hyper-V Server 2019 on Intel NUC. This is how the lab environment looks in Windows Admin Center view (see picture below) and you can read about Windows Admin Center in the article Manage Windows Hyper-V Server 2019.
Good luck with your environment!
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