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My latest SharePoint Development and Demo Rig


OK – this is a little nerdy, but when working with Server platforms it can be a little awkward to set up dev and demo environments.  People have all different strategies from hosted environments, running VMs on external hard drives, using cloud solutions such as CloudShare and everything in between.  I’m always on the lookout for different and better options so I appreciate when folks share what they are doing.  So in this post I’ll do the same.

I’ve decided to set up a local Hyper-V environment hosted on my laptop running Windows 8.  Let’s start with the specs.


I have a Lenovo W530 series laptop with one standard issue spindle hard-drive and a second solid state hard drive (SSD) each 500GB.  I’ve reserved the SSD completely for running my virtual machines to isolate the host from the VMs from a disk perspective.

I’ve got 32 GB of RAM and a quad core Intel i7 2.60 GHz processors with 8 logical cores.


I’m running Windows 8 Enterprise 64-bit with the Hyper-V role enabled.

My Setup

I wanted to set up an environment that could cover as many different needs and scenarios as possible.  Here are some of the requirements I set out to cover:

  • Run both SharePoint 2010 and 2013 farms
  • Set up multiple domains so that I could test and experiment with cross-domain challenges and issues
  • Run both single-server farms as well as multi-server topologies

Here’s how I went about it:

For my single server 2013 farm, I used the “SharePoint 2013 Setup Guide for Developers for SharePoint 2013 RTM” created by Critical Path Training.   I definitely recommend it as it walks you through from setting up your virtual NICs and configuring your OS to configuring your environment for APP development and host header site collections.  If you follow this guide you will create a domain called and that’s one of my two domains.

As I mentioned, I wanted multiple domains and so my next step was to set up a second domain which I called it  My plan is to basically use the domain for everything except the single-server 2013 farm which is covered by my wingtip environment.  In the domain I have a domain controller (DC), a dedicated SQL Server and then any number of SharePoint farms that are attached to my domain and shared SQL server.

To make life easier for myself, as I was setting up the first environment using Critical Path’s document, I saved my virtual hard drive (VHD) to use as a base image.  That way as I’m spinning up new servers, I have a base Windows Server hard drive with all the updates installed which saves a TON of time –  installing updates takes FOREVER!  I also create base images for other purposes.  For example I have one with all SharePoint prereqs and bits installed, but the configuration wizard is not run yet.  I also have base images with visual studio and Microsoft Office installed.

So ultimately here is what my environment looks like.  This allows me to play with SharePoint 2010 and 2013.  Explore working with multiple domains for search crawling and other scenarios.  And I also have an Office 365 environment which I will use with my local dev environment to experiment with hybrid scenarios.


I don’t necessarily run this all at once, but I can cover a lot of bases with this!

Lastly, in the past I’ve used Microsoft’s IW Demo environment out of convenience because it comes with all the software  installed, plus content and users!  But, I’ve been burned enough times now with this quirky environment that I’m going to build my own from now on.  And that means I need to create my own content.  I plan to create some “content packs” which are deployable packages that add content to an existing farm.  Stay tuned as I’ll post what I come up with and learn during that process!

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