UPDATE: Now includes System Center 2012 SP1 CU2 along with the following new articles ...

  • Build a System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 Cloud Distribution Point using Windows Azure Infrastructure Services by Kevin Remde
     
  • Guided Hands-On Lab: Enable BYOD Management with System Center 2012 SP1 and Windows Intune by Keith Mayer

System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 ( “ConfigMgr 2012 SP1” ) offers lots of great new capabilities for IT Pros, but building a lab to evaluate, test and study ConfigMgr can be challenging if you don’t have spare hardware capacity in your data center.  In this Step-by-Step Guide, I’ll walk through the steps that I used to build my ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 demo and study lab in the cloud on the Windows Azure platform. 

This makes a great scenario for leveraging our Windows Azure FREE Trial Offer to build your lab environment for FREE in the cloud.  Using the configuration outlined in this article, you’ll be able to build a functional lab environment that will be accessible during the free trial period.  After the free trial period is over, you can choose if you’d like to convert to a full paid subscription.  If you choose to convert to a paid subscription, this lab environment will cost approximately $0.45 USD per hour of compute usage ( that’s right – just 45 cents per hour ) plus associated storage and networking costs ( which can typically be less than $10 USD per month for a lab of this nature ). These estimated costs are based on published Pay-As-You-Go pricing for Windows Azure that is current as of this article’s date.

NOTE: If you are testing advanced ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 scenarios and need more resources than available in the lab configuration below, you can certainly scale-up or scale-out elastically by provisioning larger VMs or additional VMs for distributed site system roles.  To determine the specific costs associated with higher resource levels, please visit the Windows Azure Pricing Calculator for Virtual Machines.

Lab Scenario 

In this Step-by-Step Guide, you will be provisioning a stand-alone ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 primary site server that is joined to an Active Directory domain. 

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Lab Scenario: ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 in the Cloud

This lab scenario will also serve as the basis for future Step-by-Step Guides where we’ll be expanding the configuration to encompass additional site system roles and capabilities.

In ConfigMgr 2012, a stand-alone primary site can support up to 100,000 clients.  If you are testing a lab configuration that will need to scale beyond 100,000 clients when deployed in production, see Site and Site System Role Scalability for details on the supported scalability limits when choosing an alternate lab topology.

Prerequisites

The following is required to complete this step-by-step guide:

Let’s Get Started!

In this Step-by-Step Guide, you will complete the following exercises to configure a System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 stand-alone primary site server as a cloud-based lab on the Windows Azure platform:

  • Deploy a New Windows Server 2012 VM on Windows Azure
  • Prepare VM with Prerequisites for System Center 2012
  • Install System Center 2012 Standalone Primary Site

Estimated Time to Complete: 90 minutes

Exercise 1: Deploy a New Windows Server 2012 VM in Windows Azure

In this exercise, you will provision a new Windows Azure VM to run a Windows Server 2012 on the Windows Azure Virtual Network provisioned in the prior Step-by-Step Guides listed above in the Prerequisites section of this article.

  1. Sign in at the Windows Azure Management Portal with the logon credentials used when you signed up for your Free Windows Azure Trial.
     
  2. Select Virtual Machines located on the side navigation panel on the Windows Azure Management Portal page.
     
  3. Click the +NEW button located on the bottom navigation bar and select Compute | Virtual Machines | From Gallery.
     
  4. In the Virtual Machine Operating System Selection list, select Windows Server 2012 Datacenter and click the Next button.
     
  5. On the Virtual Machine Configuration page, complete the fields as follows: 
      
    Version Release Date: Select the most recent release date
     
    Virtual Machine Name: XXXlabcm01 ( where XXX is replaced with your unique initials )
     
    Size: Large (4 cores, 7GB Memory)
     
    New User Name: XXXAdmin ( where XXX is replaced with your unique initials )
     
    New Password and Confirm Password fields: Choose and confirm a new local Administrator password. 
     
    Click the Next button to continue.
     
    Note: It is suggested to use secure passwords for Administrator users and service accounts, as Windows Azure virtual machines could be accessible from the Internet knowing just their DNS.  You can also read this document on the Microsoft Security website that will help you select a secure password: http://www.microsoft.com/security/online-privacy/passwords-create.aspx.
     
  6. On the Virtual Machine Mode page, complete the fields as follows:
     
    - Standalone Virtual Machine: Selected
     
    - DNS Name: XXXlabcm.cloudapp.net ( where XXX is replaced with your unique initials )
     
    - Storage Account: Select the Storage Account defined in the Getting Started steps from the Prerequisites section above.
     
    - Region/Affinity Group/Virtual Network: Select XXXlabnet01 – the Virtual Network defined in prior Step-by-Step Guides in the “Early Experts” Cloud Quest.
     
    - Virtual Network Subnets: Select Subnet-1 (10.0.0.0/23)
     
    Click the Next button to continue.
     
  7. On the Virtual Machine Options page, click the Checkmark button to begin provisioning the new virtual machine.
     
    As the new virtual machine is being provisioned, you will see the Status column on the Virtual Machines page of the Windows Azure Management Portal cycle through several values including Stopped, Starting (Provisioning), and Running (Provisioning).  When provisioning for this new Virtual Machine is completed, the Status column will display a value of Running and you may continue with the next exercise in this guide.
     
  8. After the new virtual machine has finished provisioning, click on the name ( XXXlabcm01 ) of the new Virtual Machine displayed on the Virtual Machines page of the Windows Azure Management Portal to open the virtual machine dashboard page for XXXlabcm01.
     
  9. On the virtual machine dashboard page for XXXlabcm01, click the Attach button located on the bottom navigation toolbar and select Attach Empty Disk.  Complete the following fields on the Attach an empty disk to the virtual machine form:
     
    - Name: XXXlabcm01-data01
     
    - Size: 50 GB
     
    - Host Cache Preference: None
     
    Click the Checkmark button to create and attach the a new virtual hard disk to virtual machine XXXlabcm01.

You have completed the initial provisioning of a new virtual machine running Windows Server 2012 on the Windows Azure cloud platform.

Exercise 2: Prepare VM with Prerequisites for System Center 2012

In this exercise, you will prepare this virtual machine with the prerequisites needed to successfully install System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 later in this Step-by-Step Guide.

  1. Login to the Virtual Machine as a Local Administrator
     
    1. On the virtual machine details page for XXXlabcm01, click the Connect button located on the bottom navigation toolbar and click the Open button to launch a Remote Desktop Connection to the console of this virtual machine. 
       
    2. Logon at the console of your virtual machine with the local Administrator credentials defined in Exercise 1 above.
       
    3. Wait for the Server Manager tool to launch before continuing with the next step.
       
  2. In the Server Manager window, format the disk attached in Exercise 1 above by launching the Computer Management tool from the Tools menu located on the top navigation bar.
     
    1. In the Computer Management window, click on Disk Management in the left navigation pane.
       
    2. When prompted with the Initialize Disk dialog box, click the OK button to continue.
       
    3. Right-click on the unallocated disk space on Disk 2 and select New Simple Volume… from the pop-up menu.
       
    4. In the New Simple Volume Wizard, click the Next button on each page to accept all default values. 
       
    5. Click the Finish button on the last page of the wizard to create a new E: volume.
       
    6. When the new volume has finished the formatting process, close the Computer Management window. 
       
  3. Using the Server Manager tool, join the Virtual Machine to the contoso.com Active Directory domain.
     
    1. In the Server Manager tool, click Local Server in the left navigation pane to navigate to the Local Server page.
       
    2. On the Local Server page, click the WORKGROUP link to launch the System Properties dialog box.
       
    3. On the Computer Name tab of the System Properties dialog box, click the Change… button to launch the Computer Name/Domain Changes dialog box.
       
    4. In the Computer Name/Domain Changes dialog box, click the Domain: radio button and type contoso.com in the text field.  Click the OK button.
       
    5. In the Windows Security dialog box, type the Domain Administrator login credentials ( such as Administrator@contoso.com )that you used when configuring this domain in the prior Step-by-Step Guides listed in the Prerequisites section of this article.  Click the OK button to authenticate to the domain.
       
    6. Once the domain join has been successfully completed, you will see a message box stating “Welcome to the contoso.com domain.” Click the OK button twice, then click the Close button to close the System Properties dialog box.
       
    7. When prompted, click the Restart Now button to restart the virtual machine.
       
      Monitor the restart progress of the virtual machine on the Virtual Machines page of the Windows Azure Management Portal.  When the restart has completed, the virtual machine status will display Running.  You may then continue with the next step in this exercise.
       
  4. Login to the Virtual Machine as a Domain Administrator.
     
    1. Select Virtual Machines located on the side navigation panel on the Windows Azure Management Portal page.
       
    2. On the Virtual Machines page, click on the name of VM XXXlabcm01 to navigate to the Virtual Machine Dashboard page for this Virtual Machine.
       
    3. Click the Connect button on the bottom page navigation toolbar to open a Remote Desktop session to this virtual machine. 
       
    4. Login with the same Domain Administrator user credentials ( Administrator@contoso.com ) used when deploying the contoso.com Active Directory domain in the prior Step-by-Step Guides listed above in the Prerequisites section of this article.
       
      After the Remote Desktop console session has initialized and the Server Manager tool has launched, continue with the next step in this exercise.
       
  5. Using the Server Manager tool, disable Internet Explorer Enhanced Security.     
     
    1. In the Server Manager tool, click on Local Server in the left navigation pane and select IE Enhanced Security Configuration. 
       
    2. Turn off enhanced security for Administrators and click the OK button.
       
      Note: Modifying Internet Explorer Enhanced Security configurations is not good practice and is only for the purpose of this particular Step-by-Step Guide. The correct approach should be to download files locally and then copy them to a shared folder or directly to the VM.
       
  6. Using the Server Manager tool, install the required Windows Server 2012 Roles and Features.
     
    1. In the Server Manager tool, click Manage on the top left menu bar and then select Add Roles and Features from the drop-down menu to launch the Add Roles and Features Wizard.
    2. In the Add Roles and Features Wizard dialog box, click the Next button four times to advance to the Select Features page. 
       
    3. On the Select Features page, check the checkboxes for the following features and sub-features, leaving all other options at the default checkbox state:
       
      - .NET Framework 3.5 with both HTTP Activation and Non-HTTP Activation selected.
       
      - .NET Framework 4.5 with both HTTP Activation and TCP Activation selected.
       
      - Background Intelligent Transfer Service ( BITS )
       
      - Remote Differential Compression
       
      Whenever prompted during the feature selection process above, click the Add Features button to add all features that are required for a select feature or sub-feature option.
       
      Click the Next button to continue.
       
    4. On the IIS Web Server Role Services page, check the checkboxes for the following options, leaving all other options at their default checkbox state:
       
      - Windows Authentication, located under the IIS with Security section.
       
      - ASP.NET 3.5, located under the Application Development section.
       
      - IIS 6  WMI Compatibility, located under the Management Tools | IIS 6 Management Compatibility section.
       
    5. Click the Next button and then click the Install button to begin the feature installation.
       
    6. When the feature installation has completed, click the Close button to close the Add Roles and Features Wizard.
       
  7. Using Internet Explorer from within the virtual machine remote desktop session, download the required software installation bits.
     
    1. Create an E:\installfiles folder.  Download each of the software installation packages below into this folder.
       
    2. Download SQL Server 2012 from http://aka.ms/DLSQL2012  
       
    3. Download the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit ( ADK ) for Windows 8 from http://aka.ms/DLWADK.
       
      NOTE: If using System Center 2012 R2, the ADK for Windows 8.1 is required instead.
       
    4. Download the Windows Server 2012 ISO from http://aka.ms/DLWS2012ISO
       
    5. Download the Windows 8 Enterprise ISO from http://aka.ms/DLWIN8ISO
       
    6. Download System Center 2012 with SP1 from http://aka.ms/DLSCSUITE2012 
       
      NOTE: Be sure to download all of the installation bits above, as they will also be leveraged in your cloud-based lab environment for future Step-by-Step Guides that build upon this base configuration.
       
  8. Prepare Active Directory for System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1.
     
    1. Double-click on E:\installfiles\SC2012_SP1_RTM_SCCM_SCEP.exe to extract the downloaded installation bits for ConfigMgr 2012 SP1.
       
      When prompted, extract the downloaded installation bits to E:\installfiles\SC2012_SP1_RTM_SCCM_SCEP as a destination folder location.
       
    2. Extend the Active Directory Schema with the ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 schema extensions by running the following command from a Command Prompt window:
       
           E:\installfiles\SC2012_SP1_RTM_SCCM_SCEP\SMSSETUP\BIN\X64\extadsch.exe

      After running this command, review the log output located in C:\extadsch.log to confirm that the schema extension operations were successfully completed.
       
    3. Using the Active Directory Users and Computers tool from the domain controller virtual machine remote desktop console ( XXXlabad01 ), setup the required Active Directory permissions and objects.
       
      1. In the Active Directory Users and Computers tool, select View | Advanced Features from the menu bar.
         
      2. In the left navigation pane of the Active Directory Users and Computers tool, right-click on the System container and select Properties from the pop-up menu. 
         
        On the Security tab, add the Active Directory computer account for the ConfigMgr site server ( XXXlabcm01 ) to the Groups or user names list and assign Full Control permissions to it. 
         
        Click OK when completed.
         
      3. In the left navigation pane of the Active Directory Users and Computers tool, right-click on the Users container and select New | User from the pop-up menu. 
         
        Create the following domain user accounts for SQL Server and ConfigMgr site system roles:
         
        - SQLService domain user account: uncheck User must change password at next logon option and check Password never expires option.
         
        - CMAdmin domain user account: uncheck User must change password at next logon option and check Password never expires option.  Add this domain user account to the Domain Admins global group. 
         
    4. After completing the Active Directory preparation tasks above, close the remote desktop connection to virtual machine XXXlabad01 and re-establish a remote desk connection to XXXlabcm01
       
      Login as a Domain Administrator ( Administrator@contoso.com ) on virtual machine XXXlabcm01.
       
  9. At the remote desktop console of virtual machine XXXlabcm01, install SQL Server 2012 database engine and reporting services instances.
      
    1. Double-click the downloaded SQL Server 2012 ISO file located in the E:\installfiles folder to mount this ISO as a new F: drive letter.
       
    2. Double-click the F:\setup.exe installation executable to launch the SQL Server 2012 Installation Center.
       
    3. In the SQL Server 2012 Installation Center window, click the Installation link located in the left navigation pane.
       
    4. In the SQL Server 2012 Installation Center window, click New SQL Server stand-alone installation or add features to an existing installation in the right content pane.  This will launch the SQL Server 2012 Setup program.
       
    5. In the SQL Server 2012 Setup program, use the OK and Next buttons as appropriate to navigate through the installation wizard and set the following installation property values when prompted:
       
      - Feature Selection: select Database Engine and Reporting Services - Native

      - Instance Configuration: Default instance
       
      - Instance Root Directory: E:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server

      - Server Configuration: set SQL Server Database Engine service account to use CONTOSO\SQLService domain user account name.
       
      - Database Engine Configuration: Click Add Current User button
       
      As you are navigating through the Setup Wizard, accept all other default values.  When ready, click the Install button to install SQL Server 2012.
       
    6. When the SQL Server 2012 installation is completed, close the Installation Center window if it is still open. 
       
    7. Right-click on the mounted F: drive in a File Explorer window and select Eject from the pop-up menu to unmount the SQL Server 2012 ISO image file.
       
  10. Install the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit ( ADK ) for Windows 8.     
     
    1. Run E:\installfiles\adksetup.exe to install the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit.
       
    2. When prompted during the setup process, select the following components to install:
       
      - User State Migration Tools ( USMT )
       
      - Windows Deployment Tools
       
      - Windows PE
       
  11. Exclude the D: volume as a location for ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 files.
     

    The D: volume on a Windows Azure virtual machine is intended for temporary files.  When installing ConfigMgr 2012 SP1, certain Site System components are placed, by default, on the NTFS volume with the highest amount of available disk space.  To exclude the D: volume so that the ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 setup process will not consider it as a location for these components, create the following file as an empty text file at the root of the D: volume:
     
    1. Create file D:\NO_SMS_ON_DRIVE.SMS

The XXXlabcm01 virtual machine is now prepared for installing System Center 2012 Configuration Manager with Service Pack 1.

Exercise 3 – Install System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1

In this exercise, you will install System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 on virtual machine XXXlabcm01 and configure it as a stand-alone primary site server.

  1. Launch the System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 installation by running the following command:
     
         E:\installfiles\SC2012_SP1_RTM_SCCM_SCEP\SMSSETUP\BIN\X64\setup.exe        
     
  2. Navigate through the installation wizard by clicking the OK and Next buttons as appropriate.  When prompted for the following information, use the values supplied below:
     
    - Download required files: Selected
     
    - Download location: E:\installfiles
     
    - Site code: P01
     
    - Site name: Primary Site 01
     
    - Installation folder: E:\Program Files\Microsoft Configuration Manager
     
    - Configure the communication method on each site system role: Selected
     
    - Join the Customer Experience Improvement Program: Selected
     
  3. After supplying the values listed in Step 2 above, wait for the installation to complete.
     
  4. UPDATE: Download and install the following updates for System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1:
     
    - Cumulative Update 2 ( KB 2854009 ) 
     
  5. When the installation has completed, launch the Configuration Manager Console from the Windows Start Screen.

The installation of XXXlabcm01 as a Configuration Manager stand-alone primary site server is now complete.  Be sure to shutdown your lab VMs from the Windows Azure Management Portal when not in use to save on compute charges.

Completed! What’s Next?

The installation and configuration of a new System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 stand-alone primary site server running on Windows Azure is now complete.  To continue your learning about System Center 2012, Windows Server 2012 and Windows Azure, explore these other great resources:

  • Build a System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 Cloud Distribution Point using Windows Azure Infrastructure Services by Kevin Remde
     
  • Guided Hands-On Lab: Enable BYOD Management with System Center 2012 SP1 and Windows Intune by Keith Mayer
     
  • Learn about the other new features in System Center 2012 Service Pack 1.
     
  • Prepare for the System Center 2012 Configuration Manager certification exam with a FREE study guide.
     
  • Join the Windows Server 2012 “Early Experts” Challenge study group to learn more about Windows Server 2012! and prepare for MCSA Certification!
     
  • Learn more about Windows Azure Virtual Machines and Virtual Networks with this FREE Online Training!
     
  • Complete the other Hands-On Labs in the "Early Experts" Cloud Quest to request your certificate of completion ... Become our next "Early Expert"!

How are you using Windows Azure Virtual Machines and Virtual Networks?

Do you have an interesting or unique scenario that you are evaluating on the Windows Azure cloud platform?  Feel free to leave your comments, feedback and ideas below to share across our IT Pro community!