I was recently challenged with having to create technical demos for a Microsoft Ignite the tour session called “Migrating to Windows Server 2019” (watch the recording here - awesome session). The demos for this talk centered around taking a bunch of Windows Server 2008 R2 systems running “core infrastructure services” (Active Directory, DHCP and File Servers) and moving those workloads over to systems running Windows Server 2019. This was simulating an on-prem environment that was going through a modernization process. I’ve been making technical demos for a long time now – so it should have been easy to pull off. Fire up my Hyper-V lab server and make some VMs.
Then it hit me. I no longer have a Hyper-V Lab server kicking around I can use as my demo platform. I had recycled my old home lab when I changed jobs close to 5 years ago to go work in Azure Compute. My daily driver laptop was a little anemic on the RAM side to run 6-8 VMs and I need to take snapshots / checkpoints at various points in the building process in order to test and optimize the demo flow. What’s an IT Pro to do?
If you check the lower left side of my laptop stickers – you’ll see a quote “my other computer is an Azure datacenter”. Why not harness this on demand power and only pay for what I use? Let me share with you a recipe for what I built, how I securely access it and what I did to minimize costs.
Note: this has to be one of the hyperthreaded “v3” machine sizes in order to do paravirtualization.
NOTE: I am using RDP with JIT because I will be copying files between my workstation at work/home into the VM in Azure using the RDP client.
That basically does it.
You now have a box that does Hyper-V with Management tools installed. It is the appropriate size to handle quick demo workloads and since it’s Hyper-V, it supports multiple checkpoints! You made it more secure to access by enabling Just-In-Time (JIT) requests for remote VM connectivity. This JIT connectivity is audited and enabled for 3 hrs, after which time the JIT controlled Network Security Group allowing RDP access will be deleted. You have also created a new Hyper-V switch on which you can now create paravirtualized VMs with NAT connectivity to the internet in order to allow for Guest VMs download updates, tools and other things. Oh yeah – the internet speeds from a datacenter are WONDERFUL.
Trust me – I have been there. I forget to spin down a VM in Azure after a demo and go home for the weekend. I then remember the following week that the system has been running all this time and not being used! Keep that from happening by setting up Auto-Shutdown.
I have configured auto-shutdown at 7PM Pacific time and I have it to sending a webhook to one of my Microsoft Teams channels as well as send me an email that it’s about to shut down.
If you want to know how to configure Microsoft Teams to receive this WebHook (it’s on a per-channel basis) check out this article about it.
This box has served me well and for the most part has been inexpensive for me to run. It gets about 5-10 hrs of use on days when it is required – and besides minimal storage costs – I am only charged for VM running time.
Not a bad little solution to replace that land-locked Hyper-V Home server when you need something in a pinch, eh?
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