Learn how to automatically build an entire set of System Center VMs which can connect up to Windows Azure for Hybrid cloud scenarios using the PDT tool from this wiki article I published.  This infrastructure will enable you to complete the labs you can find at: http://aka.ms/hybridlabs.

Why do this? It’s a great way to get a lab/test environment of all of the System Center VMs which have internet through the auto-created gateway VM.  Having a permanent local copy will enable you to do testing, customizations, and learning from your own environment which won’t disappear and have all of the System Center components installed.  For quick learning of specific scenarios in a live bits environment, you might consider TechNet vLabs.

Background: This year I was in charge of creating a set of content to technically educate people on a major part of our hybrid cloud story – more specifically, all of the areas where System Center 2012 R2 connects up to the Windows Azure.  As a part of this exercise, our team set out to use an automated process to build out our VM environments so we could easily rebuild when the evaluation period ended and to be able to have the general public be able to recreate their own identical environment.  Considering we we needed the entire System Center set, we naturally chose the PowerShell Deployment Toolkit (PDT) to start with to deploy the base set of VMs.  There were some gaps with what PDT built using the out-of-box variable.xml configurations, so we added pre and post deployment step configurations around PDT to meet the needs of the labs using PowerShell as much as possible and some manual steps where either it was impossible or impractical to script.

Note: This build does not include the Windows Azure pack since it doesn’t deploy resources into Windows Azure.  Windows Azure pack certainly looks a lot like Windows Azure though Smile.

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