Using Hyper-V to Build a Private Cloud (Part 1)

by [Published on 7 Dec. 2011 / Last Updated on 7 Dec. 2011]

This article series demonstrates the procedure for building a private IaaS cloud in which new servers can be created on the fly through a simple Web interface.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

Introduction

Over the last few years, the cloud has become all the rage. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) clouds offer an unprecedented degree of flexibility because they allow new virtual machines to be quickly provisioned and deployed.

While I can’t deny the benefits of using IaaS clouds, I have always been reluctant to use them for my own organization because once you start outsourcing servers to external clouds you become completely dependent on your Internet connection. If your Internet connection goes down (or becomes bogged down due to excessive traffic) then your ability to access your servers suffers as a result.

Those who want to achieve the flexibility of an IaaS cloud, but do not want to risk losing access to their network servers during an Internet outage can achieve the best of both worlds by building a private cloud.

In this article series, I will show you how to construct a private cloud that can be used to rapidly deploy various types of network servers. The cloud will feature a self-service portal that allows administrators (or users if you choose to allow them) to use a simple Web interface to pick and choose the resources that they want to provision and the server roles that they want to deploy. For example, with a few mouse clicks an administrator could deploy a new domain controller or a new Exchange Server.

Active Directory Requirements

The private cloud solution that I will be demonstrating throughout this series depends on having an Active Directory infrastructure in place. Because of the way that the private cloud will be constructed, you need to have physical domain controllers in place. If you construct the private cloud and then attempt to perform a physical to virtual migration on your domain controllers then you will likely find yourself in a situation in which your private cloud becomes inaccessible. To prevent this from happening at least one domain controller (preferably more than one) must exist outside of the virtual environment.

The Microsoft Deployment Toolkit

The first step in constructing our private cloud is to set up the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010. The Microsoft Deployment Toolkit is a free tool that you can download here.

For the purposes of this article series, I will be installing the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit on a physical server that will be accessible to the other servers which make up the private cloud. The Microsoft Deployment Toolkit is not a high demand application, so you don’t have to use a dedicated server. The server that you will use will serve as a repository for deployment images. This means that you will need to make sure to use a server that has plenty of free disk space for the deployment images that you want to create. These images must be accessible through a network share (which we will be creating later on).

Installing the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit

The Windows Deployment Toolkit is only about 15 MB in size. Once you have downloaded it, run the executable file and the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit Setup Wizard will begin. For the sake of this article, I will be using Update 1 (5.1.1642.01) of the toolkit.

Click Next to bypass the wizard’s Welcome screen and you will be taken to a screen which asks you to accept the license agreement. After doing so, click Next. You should now see a screen that asks you which components you want to install. Go ahead and choose to install all of the components (this is the default choice) and click Next followed by Install and Finish.

Creating a Deployment Share

Now that the Windows Deployment Toolkit has been installed, you will need to create a deployment share. To do so, open the Deployment Workbench, right click on the Deployment Shares container, and select the New Deployment Share command from the resulting shortcut menu, as shown in Figure A.


Figure A: Right click on the Deployment Share container and select the New Deployment Share command from the shortcut menu.

When you attempt to create a deployment share, there is a chance that you could see an error message telling you that you need a newer version of the Windows Automated Installation Kit. If you receive this message then you can download the Windows Automated Installation Kit. Keep in mind that before you can install this version of the Automated Installation Kit you must install SP1 for Windows Server 2008 R2. You can download the service pack here.

When you tell the Deployment Workbench to create a new deployment share, Windows will launch the New Deployment Share Wizard. The wizard’s initial screen asks you to provide a deployment share path, as shown in Figure B. This is the path within which all of your deployment images will be stored. As such, you must take care to choose a location with plenty of free disk space.


Figure B: You must choose a location with plenty of free disk space.

Click Next and you will be prompted to provide a name for the deployment share that you are creating. As you can see in Figure C, the default name is DeploymentShare$. The $ at the end of the share name renders the share invisible.


Figure C: The default behavior is to create a hidden share.

When you click Next, you will be prompted to enter a description of the share that you are creating. For the purposes of this article, I am going to use the default description of MDT Deployment Share.

Click Next and the wizard will ask you if an image should be captured during a bare metal deployment. Leave this option enabled and click Next.

The following screen asks you if you want to prompt users for the administrative password. I recommend that you leave this option unchecked because we really don't want our users to know the local administrative password.

When you click Next, the wizard will ask you if you want Windows to ask users for a product key. In the interest of completely automating the creation process, we will be hard coding product keys so leave this option deselected.

When you click Next you will see a summary of the configuration options that you have chosen. Take a moment to read over the summary information to be sure that everything is correct. Assuming that all is well, click Next to create the deployment share. When the process completes, click Finish.

If you expand the Deployment Shares container, you should see a deployment share with the name that you specified through the wizard. This deployment share contains a number of sub folders that we will use when we being associating operating system images with the share. You can see what the new deployment share looks like in Figure D.


Figure D: The new deployment share contains a number of sub containers.

Conclusion

Now that we have created a deployment share, it is time to being adding some operating systems to it. I will show you how to do that in Part 2.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

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