Building a “Cheap” Private Cloud Infrastructure @Home

This experience is showcase how we can make use of Microsoft BizSpark benefits, especially for access to MSDN software for free. Be it as IT Professional or Developer, would get certain benefits to test drive with those software are neither trial version nor beta, everything are release version with licenses. Eligible startups IT company can join with Bizspark program, and each employee can be included as a member. Once login to Bizspark account, there is link to MSDN subscriber which provides bunch of Microsoft software.


So what we going to do with bunch of software?
Download, install, experience, and resell it. That is beauty of mutual benefit of this program.

To experience with latest software, I need infrastructure. And here my own requirement:
Phase I, to build infrastructure and ready for daily usage and Window Phone programming, and consideration are:

  1. Support 64 bit Windows Server 2012 with Hyper-V (virtualization).
  2. Support for Windows Phone 8 development and other latest software.
  3. Most cost effective as possible, yet still up to date and powerful enough.

Phase II, system integration with advanced software and cloud services. This would be next phase which some software might requires more resource (RAM) that need to consider on later stage.

For phase I, let’s focus on infrastructure.

I just have laptop with older processor, doesn’t support for virtualization. So definitely must get another machine. Buying server to put up at home is not good choice. Server machine usually costly, bulky, noisy and not friendly with power consumption. To get new laptop with custom of spec, would be costly and difficult for upgrade even consider mobile device. Finally my choice went to assemble a new PC, un-branded one.

Finding suitable motherboard, processor, RAM, and HDD
Processor Intel i3, i5, or i7 currently are widely available. And I found Intel i3-3220 is good choice, it is affordable enough, support virtualization, 3.3 GHz clock speed with 2 cores. It is i3 family but release on Q3 2012, considered new release.
For the RAM, should be DDR3 available with 8GB at one peace, transfer rate of 6400 MB/s.
For the HDD, should be SATA3 available at 1TB and more, transfer rate of 6GB/s.
Now for motherboard, should support Intel i3-3220, DDR3, SATA3 and HDMI so that I can plug into HD/Smart TV screen. The choice goes to GIGABYTE motherboard GA-B75M-HD3.

And last thing, power supply, normal ATX with switch power cable.
Total cost about S$400, don’t think too much of fancy stuff, since my target is cost effective.

Without casing and DVD Rom?
Buying new casing quite troublesome, bulky item. Can use old casing as long as still in good condition. motherboard dimension is standard, can just plug into port interface and screw it up. Latest motherboard getting smaller size, that good thing, leave more empty space inside the casing, manageable and reduce heat.
About DVD Rom, no worry, I got free 8GB thumb drive, given during Microsoft CTU last year. Anyway most of software are downloadable in ISO format.


Installation Steps

  1. Create Win Server 2012 Datacenter Bootable USB using Rufus (PortableApps).
    PortableApps is great tools/software that you don’t need to install, just download, self extract, set profile, and save into USB drive, simple and easy.
  2. Boot up from USB drive and install Win Server 2012 Standard as Bare Metal OS.
    Bare metal means that OS which run directly on the machine, also called Host OS.
  3. Get Update
    After installation complete, you may find some device drivers was not installed properly. Get update and restart, solved, CD soft ware drivers not required.
  4. Install windows roles and features eg: Hyper-V, IIS
  5. Configure and install virtual machine or guest OS
    This is most interesting stuff. Installing various OS in your Hyper-V from back dated WinXP32 to win864 bit and some Linux OS.
  6. Perform online update for each guest OS, configure remote desktop, firewall. computer name, network.
    You may need to think about naming convention of computer name, it is limited 15 chars, otherwise may get NetBIOS issue.

OK everything ready, installed Remote Desktop Manager on my laptop and see a mini datacenter:


Couple issues raised after installing guest OS:

  • For Windows guest OS, Hyper-V doesn’t provides sound, so there is no sound by default. And in order to get the sound you need to share local resources, bring the sound to the RDP client computer, and you will hear it.
  • For Windows older than Win7 like WinXP, you may notice that drivers, cursor etc. are disoriented, there for need to have Integration Services installed from Hyper-V, and further, Linux VMs have Integration Services as well.

Can you guest what is naming convention that I use?


I couldn’t turn on all guest OS, boot up every, because at this point memory reaching to 95% of 8GB. Not bad, even slow performance still can get most of thing up and running.

Have you seen Linux Open Suse  running side by side with Windows Phone 8 emulator? Here it is:


As for now I still trying to get MS Intune works for all my OS.

Isn’t this mini data center could useful for learning or SME usage? Let me know what you think…

Thanks for reading.


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