Five Virtual Labs for the SQL Server 2012 DBA

SQL Server LogoWouldn’t it be nice if you had a chance to try out the features of SQL Server?  Maybe give them a run-through before your managers asks you to make recommendations on whether to upgrade and what the value in doing so will be.

For those of us that don’t have the time to build out a virtual machine or don’t have the luxury of machines with capacity to build out environments, Microsoft offers some virtual labs.  These labs cover a lot of what’s available in SQL Server 2012.  Rather than building out a server to play with the technology, you can click a button to open into a dedicated environment that is configured for a tour of the features and implementing them in a quick lab.

For those of us that are DBAs, there are five that you should take a look at:

  1. Installing and Managing SQL Server 2012 from the command prompt – learn how to automate the SQL Server installation through an unattended install.
  2. SQL Server 2012 – Upgrading to SQL Server 2012 – Take a tour of the upgrade process through the use of the SQL Server Upgrade Advisor and Distributed Replay.
  3. SQL Server 2012 – What’s new in Manageability – A lot has changed in manageability since the last version of SQL Server, this lab helps guide you in the opportunities to managing SQL Server from a new paradigm.
  4. Introduction to SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn Availability Groups – A lab with an  introduction AlwaysOn Availability Groups to help understand how and when they are useful.
  5. SQL Server 2012: AlwaysOn Availability Groups – After the introduction to availability groups, run through this lab to see how to get an availability group online.

Regardless of your skill level, these virtual labs are useful for upgrading your skills as you look at upgrading your environments.  Even if you are familiar with the features, taking a look might provide some insight that you weren’t previously aware of.  What are your thoughts on the virtual labs?

9 thoughts on “Five Virtual Labs for the SQL Server 2012 DBA

  1. Maybe I am late. I tried #4 and got a “lab not available for launch” message. Is this still available?


    1. I tried it today without issue. It is possible that all of the virtual lab slots were being used.


  2. Holy moly! Exactly what the doctor ordered. We’re going to use that as a way to demo AO without having to build our own lab environment. And I had NO idea this existed. MANY thanks, Jason!


      1. As I come back to this a year later… Jason, how did you find out about this? I’d love to find out when MS announces it, as opposed to accidentally traipsing across it like I did with these. Thanks!


  3. I am getting the following error when Launching any application


    Following errors were detected during this operation.

    * [3/7/2013 6:11:15 PM] System.Deployment.Application.InvalidDeploymentException (Zone)

    – Deployment and application do not have matching security zones.

    – Source: System.Deployment

    – Stack trace:

    at System.Deployment.Application.DownloadManager.DownloadApplicationManifest(AssemblyManifest deploymentManifest, String targetDir, Uri deploymentUri, IDownloadNotification notification, DownloadOptions options, Uri& appSourceUri, String& appManifestPath)

    at System.Deployment.Application.DownloadManager.DownloadApplicationManifest(AssemblyManifest deploymentManifest, String targetDir, Uri deploymentUri, Uri& appSourceUri, String& appManifestPath)

    at System.Deployment.Application.ApplicationActivator.DownloadApplication(SubscriptionState subState, ActivationDescription actDesc, Int64 transactionId, TempDirectory& downloadTemp)

    at System.Deployment.Application.ApplicationActivator.InstallApplication(SubscriptionState& subState, ActivationDescription actDesc)

    at System.Deployment.Application.ApplicationActivator.PerformDeploymentActivation(Uri activationUri, Boolean isShortcut, String textualSubId, String deploymentProviderUrlFromExtension, BrowserSettings browserSettings, String& errorPageUrl)

    at System.Deployment.Application.ApplicationActivator.ActivateDeploymentWorker(Object state)


    No transaction information is available.


    1. I checked and ran them in Internet Explorer without issue, might have been an intermittent issue.


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