Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Lync Server Test Drive: Pre-Configured Virtual Machines

One of the things, missing until recently, that Lync customers have wanted is a set of demonstration VMs to get a feel for Lync, without the pressure of having to install it themselves. Lync installation is a very complex process and for basic evaluation – in my case just testing small features (PowerShell related of course) would have meant a huge amount of work to get all the bits and bobs loaded and configured. Like so many, I just do not have time.
A recent mail form those very nice people in the Lync product group, I found Microsoft has now released just what I and others were asking for. The Lync Server Test Drive is a set of seven Virtual Machines: A domain controller, and Exchange Server, a Lync FE Server (running Lync SE), a Management Server, a SharePoint server, a WAC server (for conferencing) and finally a system for development. You don’t need all of these VMs, and you can download them in sets. There are three sets:
Set 1 – which you can get from, contains:
  • DC – a configured DC in the Contoso fictional domain
  • Exchange – a configured Exchange 2013 server configured with almost 250 accounts!
  • Lync Front End – running Lync 2013 Standard Edition
  • WAC – for conferencing
Set 2, which you can get from:, contains 
  • Lync Management server
  • SharePoint Server
Finally, Set 3, which you can get from:, contains:
  • A TS server, which you can used to develop Lync based applications and a bit more!
Each of these sets comes as several compressed files, which are huge. The 62 files that make up the raw download take up just under 46GB of disk space. Expanded and running, the VMs take up a whopping 175 GB. That’s over 220GB of disk space. You could download a bit, expand the downloads then delete the downloads if you were on the short side for disk storage – but you’ll still need 175 GB of disk for the vms themselves.
Here’s what I see after importing the VMs:

The VMs also require a pretty hefty Hyper-V host, particularly given the Memory needs.  In order to get these running, I upgraded my Precision w7500 server box to 32 gb of ram. I would have bought more, but the 8GB sticks of Ram are pretty pricey – and besides, 32 GB if 4 times the largest ram I’ve ever installed
In operation these VMs are not what I’d call fast. If nothing else, this confirms that to really run Enterprise software like Lync  you need RAM, processing power and fast disks! As in most classroom scenarios, starting the VMs all at once means a lot of services do not start cleanly – but it’s nothing that a bit of PowerShell can’t quickly remedy. Having said that, once it’s all up and running, things seem to work well.
It’s great to have a fully working set of VMs I can now play with! I hope to generate some more cool scripts soon!

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