New content in the Microsoft Press Guided Tours app: Microsoft System Center Deploying Hyper-V with Software-Defined Storage & Networking

NOTE: The Microsoft Press Guided Tours app has been discontinued and is no longer available in the Windows Store. If you have already installed the app, you can continue to use it for as long as you like. All the tours will remain available for download from within the app.

The free Microsoft Press Guided Tours app is newly updated on Windows Store! The newest tour on our growing list is “Microsoft System Center Deploying Hyper-V with Software-Defined Storage & Networking.”

In this Windows 8.1 app, Microsoft Press authors provide insightful coverage of new and evolving Microsoft technologies. You can use the app to explore technical topics in powerful new ways, and you can mark up content in multiple ways so that it’s more useful to you.

The following seven free guided tours are included in our app – and more are coming soon!

  • Building cloud apps with Microsoft Azure (including best practices for DevOps, data storage, high availability, and more), by Scott Guthrie, Mark Simms, Tom Dykstra, Rick Anderson, and Mike Wasson
  • Programming Windows Store apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, by author Kraig Brockschmidt
  • Using Microsoft Azure HDInsight, by Avkash Chauhan, Valentine Fontama, Michele Hart, Wee Hyong Tok, and Buck Woody
  • Microsoft Azure Essentials: Fundamentals of Azure, by Michael S. Collier and Robin E. Shahan
  • Microsoft Azure Essentials: Azure Machine Learning, by Jeff Barnes
  • Introducing Windows 10 for IT Professionals, Preview Edition, by Ed Bott
  • Microsoft System Center Deploying Hyper-V with Software-Defined Storage & Networking, by Microsoft TechNet and the Cloud Platform Team; Series Editor: Mitch Tulloch

Download from Windows Store

Look for additional tours in the near future. Learn more about the app’s features in this previous blog post. More details on contents included in this newest tour are below.


When you’re looking at testing a new IT solution—such as implementing a software-defined datacenter that includes virtualization, networking, and storage—the best starting point is always to get advice from someone who has already done it. You can learn from experience what to do and what to avoid. That’s the idea behind this guided tour. We’ve gone through the work of deploying Windows Server, Microsoft System Center, and the innovations that Microsoft Azure has brought to these technologies. Our goal is to give you the step-by-step benefit of our proof-of-concept implementation to save you time and effort. And we want to show you how you can take advantage of innovation across the datacenter and the cloud to simplify your infrastructure and speed delivery of services to the business.

Transforming the datacenter

You know that IT infrastructure matters. With the right platform, you can reduce costs, respond more quickly to business needs, and take on the challenges of big data and mobility.

IT today is under more pressure than ever before to deliver resources faster, support new business initiatives, and keep pace with the competition. To handle these demands, you need a flexible, resilient infrastructure that is easy to manage and easy to scale. This means you need to be able to take everything you know and own today and transform those resources into a software-defined datacenter that is capable of handling changing needs and unexpected opportunities.

With Windows Server, Microsoft System Center, and Microsoft Azure, you can transform your datacenter. Virtualization has enabled a new generation of more efficient and more highly available datacenters for your most demanding workloads. Microsoft virtualization solutions go beyond basic virtualization capabilities, such as consolidating server hardware, and let you create a comprehensive software-defined compute engine for private and hybrid cloud environments. This flexibility helps your organization achieve considerable cost savings and operational efficiencies with a platform on which you can run the most demanding, scalable, and mission-critical of workloads.

You can find a large part of those savings and some of the best options for simplifying the datacenter in the area of storage. Microsoft’s software-defined storage (SDS) capabilities enable you to deploy low-cost, commodity hardware in a flexible, high-performance, resilient configuration that integrates well with your existing resources.

Another area of savings and optimization is in networking innovation. With software-defined networking (SDN), you can use the power of software to transform your network into a pooled, automated resource that can seamlessly extend across cloud boundaries. This allows optimal utilization of your existing physical network infrastructure, as well as agility and flexibility resulting from centralized control, and business-critical workload optimization from deployment of innovative network services. Virtual networks provide multitenant isolation while running on a shared physical network, ultimately allowing you to manage resources more effectively, without the complexity associated with managing traditional networking technologies such as Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs).

System Center provides the unified management capabilities to manage all of this virtualized infrastructure as a whole. This software-defined model lets you pool resources and balance demand across all the different areas of the business, moving resources to the places where you need them most, increasing agility and the overall value of IT to the business.

Although the benefits of a software-defined datacenter are clear, designing and implementing a solution that delivers the promised benefits can be both complex and challenging. As with all new advances in technology, experienced architects, consultants, and fabric administrators often find it difficult to understand the components and concepts that make up a software-defined datacenter solution. We wrote this guided tour to help.

Who should take this tour?

You only have to perform a quick web search on “deploying Hyper-V,” “configuring Storage Spaces,” or “understanding Hyper-V Network Virtualization,” to realize that a wealth of information is available across Microsoft TechNet, blogs, whitepapers, and a variety of other sources. The challenge is that much of that information is piecemeal. You’ll find an excellent blog post on configuring Storage Spaces, but the networking configuration used is vastly different from the whitepaper you’ve found that guides you through configuring network virtualization. Neither of these sources align with a bare-metal Hyper-V deployment article you’ve been reading. The point here is that it’s difficult to find a single end-to-end resource that walks you through the deployment of the foundation of the Microsoft software-defined datacenter solution, comprising software-defined compute, storage, and networking, from the racking of bare-metal servers, through to the streamlined deployment of virtual machines (VMs). This guided tour does just that.

Providing a POC deployment, this guided tour gives the what, why, and the how of deploying the foundation of a software-defined datacenter based on Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2. If you’re an IT professional, an infrastructure consultant, a cloud architect, or an IT administrator, and you’re interested in understanding the Microsoft software-defined datacenter architecture, the key building blocks that make up the solution, the design considerations and key best practices, this tour will certainly help you. By focusing on a POC scale, you can implement a solution that starts small, is manageable, and is easy to control yet helps you learn and understand why we chose to deploy in a certain way and how all of the different pieces come together to form the final solution.

What topics are included in this tour?

This guided tour, or proof-of-concept (POC) guide, will cover a variety of aspects that make up the foundation of the software-defined datacenter: virtualization, storage, and networking. By the end, you should have a fully operational, small-scale configuration that will enable you to proceed with evaluation of your own key workloads, experiment with additional features and capabilities, and continue to build your knowledge.

The guided tour won’t, however, cover all aspects of this software-defined datacenter foundation. The tour won’t, for instance, explain how to configure and implement Hyper-V Replica, enable and configure Storage Quality of Service (QoS), or discuss Automatic Virtual Machine Activation. Yet these are all examples of capabilities that this POC configuration would enable you to evaluate with ease.

  • Section 1: Design and planning This section focuses on the overall design of the POC configuration. It discusses each layer of the solution, key features and functionality within each layer, and the reasons why we have chosen to deploy this particular design for the POC.
  • Section 2: Deploying the management cluster This section focuses on configuring the core management backbone of the POC configuration. You’ll deploy directory, update, and deployment services, along with resilient database and VM management infrastructure. This lays the groundwork for streamlined deployment of the compute, storage, and network infrastructure in later sections.
  • Section 3: Configuring network infrastructure With the management backbone configured, you will spend time in System Center Virtual Machine Manager, building the physical network topology that was defined in Section 2. This involves configuring logical networks, uplink port profiles, port classifications, and network adaptor port profiles, and culminates in the creation of a logical switch.
  • Section 4: Configuring storage infrastructure This section focuses on deploying the software-defined storage layer of the POC. You’ll use System Center Virtual Machine Manager to transform a pair of bare-metal servers, with accompanying just a bunch of disks (JBOD) enclosures, into a resilient, high-performance Scale-Out File Server (SOFS) backed by tiered storage spaces.
  • Section 5: Configuring compute infrastructure With the storage layer constructed and deployed, this section focuses on deploying the compute layer that will ultimately host workloads that will be deployed in Section 6. You’ll use the same bare-metal deployment capabilities covered in Section 4 to deploy several Hyper-V hosts and then optimize these hosts to get them ready for accepting virtualized workloads.
  • Section 6: Configuring network virtualization In Section 3, you will have designed and deployed the underlying logical network infrastructure and, in doing so, laid the groundwork for deploying network virtualization. In this section, you’ll use System Center Virtual Machine Manager to design, construct, and deploy VM networks to suit a number of different enterprise scenarios.

By the end of Section 6, you will have a fully functioning foundation for a software-defined datacenter consisting of software-defined compute with Hyper-V, software-defined storage, and software-defined networking.

This guided tour is focused on the steps to implement the POC configuration on your own hardware. Where applicable, we have included detail on design considerations and best practices and extra detail on certain features and capabilities. These are intended to ensure that you come away from this tour with a rounded view of the what, why, and how when it comes to deploying the foundation of a software-defined datacenter based on Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2.


The authors would like to thank Jason Gerend, Jose Barreto, Matt Garson, and Greg Cusanza from Microsoft for providing valuable guidance and contributions for the content of this guided tour. Without their expertise and guidance, this tour would not be as thorough, detailed, and accurate. Our sincere thanks go to them for their time and efforts in making this happen.

The authors would also like to thank Karen Forster for proofing and copyediting their manuscript, Deepti Dani for her work on formatting and final layout, and Masood Ali-Husein for his reviewing work on this project.

Skip to main content