I am often asked why deployment is such a great place to work as a consultant and I usually answer by saying that deployment (both client and server) touches all aspects of the infrastructure and therefore you need a knowledge across many products. All though I think this is a great thing - it also means that you have to keep up with other technologies - and have them set up in a test environment for your deployment engagements.

I often setup small proof of concept labs for customers - and I make us of a lesser known Microsoft service that provides many products ready configured as time limited Virtual Hard Disks (VHD) ready for download - over the months I have created a library of these that I can set up and leave at customer sites for time limited testing (usually 30 day evaluations). Below are the links to all of the products that we supply as VHD:

BizTalk Server 2006

Exchange Server 2007

Exchange Server 2007 SP1 Beta 2

ISA Server 2006

Microsoft Office 2007 Professional

Office SharePoint Server 2007

SQL Server 2005

SQL Server 2005/Exchange 2007

System Center Configuration Manager 2007

System Center Essentials 2007

System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2007

Visual Studio 2005 Team Suite

Visual Studio 2005 Team System

Windows Server 2008 Beta 3

Windows Server 2003 R2

Windows Vista

Search Server 2008 Express

Hopefully this set of server and client pre-configured virtual machine hard disks will save you endless setup hours and also enable you to start configuring in other services to your deployment engagements.