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One of the problems I often face is, that in order to play with technology, I need to spend quite some time to set up a basic environment to then, finally, install the software on I want to test.
I then started to have a test environment with several VMs containing a DC, Exchange, CA,... If I did not use it for a while, well it takes quite some time to update all of them and finally it is pretty clear, that the configuration I need for the scenario cannot be reflected with the setup I have - quite a frustrating experience.
The other option is my home environment. I am running two DCs, an Exchange Server, MOM, WSUS, ISA Server,... I authenticate my wireless with 802.1x and use WPA etc. There is a little room to do this tests - but my family has a pretty tight SLA and is not really happy if the environment fails, just because daddy started to play with some Beta software - or imagine, my Mediacenter fails, when "24" should be recorded......
You can imagine that I am not telling you this story without a solution: