Windows shopping for an enterprise admin

Peter's year-end shopping list for Windows admins who love to take their work home with them

With the year coming to a close and many post-black-Friday deals trying to entice one and all toward spending a little before the close of this decade, there are a few visions of technology (or tax write-offs) dancing in my head. A netbook, you say? Or perhaps a cool gaming system? Maybe, but those aren't the kind of items that will appeal to admins who are serious enough about their work that they want to take it home with them. So, come window shopping (or, more appropriately,  Windows shopping) and see if anything strikes a chord for yourself or someone you are looking to bring a smile to.

A new server for home, with all the trimmings
It all begins with a new server -- not just any server, but a 64-bit server that can handle Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V (meaning it has to have hardware-assisted virtualization, which shouldn't be a problem these days), with quad-core processing and 16GB of RAM. Perhaps that is a bit overkill for my home, so the Dell PowerEdge T110 ($399 and up) is a nice starting point with room to grow.

[ Indulge your gadgetry desires with one of our recommendations from InfoWorld's 2009 geek gadget gift guide. | Go retro with our top vintage tech gift suggestions. ]

What will I put on my new PowerEdge? For starters, I'm going to be setting up Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V. From a lab environment (or in this case, a home lab environment), nothing beats the price and ease of configuration that Hyper-V provides. Once Windows Server 2008 R2 is installed, I simply have to enable the role through Server Manager; the hypervisor slides into place and lifts the parent OS up off the bare metal, and I'm all set for child VMs.

[ Learn more about Server 2008 R2 in J. Peter Bruzzese's blog "Don't upgrade to Windows Server 2008 R2 until you read this" and learn more about Hyper-V in the blog "The hypervisor war rages on: A look at the new Hyper-V R2." ]

My first child VM will be a domain controller (DC). I could make my parent OS the DC, but it won't work as easily with my backup/recovery plan (to be explained momentarily). Thus, I'll put a DC in play first. Then my second child domain will be my Exchange 2010 Server. With the new features 2010 has to offer, I'm going to run it in-house. Even better, I'm going to set up unified messaging and let Exchange handle my incoming calls and voice mails so that everyone at my home has a universal inbox. How's that for a gift that keeps on giving?

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