As a longtime MS Project user I would like to develop my Microsoft EPM Solution knowledge and skills by setting up a basic learning lab to do so at home. I am using an old XP PC with Pentium as a lower end client, and a Win8 laptop with Core i7 as a faster MS Project client, and a high end Win7 / i7 workstation (a trading system) as a third MS Project client. What I need are suggestions for equipping myself at minimal cost with a hardware server for a single-server implementation of MS Project Server and the other required server side software. I will appreciate replies suggesting how to efficiently round out my lab with a minimally acceptable hardware server for the required software servers. Holding down cost is a main objective.
Rather than purchasing additional hardware, I’d use the “Win8 laptop with Core i7” as the Server, provided it has enough RAM (8GB min 16GB preferred).
But be aware that you will need the Server to be a Domain Controller/Server combination, or else you’ll have to use one of your other computers as a separate Server.
To keep my costs down, I run everything on my laptop that has the minimum 8GB of RAM. But my laptop is running Windows 7 and I have virtualized my whole lab using VMWare Workstation. My Virtual Image runs Windows Server 2008, R2 (for PS2010) or Windows Server 2012 (for PS2013) and I have a combined Domain/Server configuration in the single Virtual Image.
I originally had the Domain Controller split out to a separate VM, which I then ran on an external drive. But I found that by using an SSD Drive, everything runs well (performance wise) within the single Domain Controller/Server based VM.
Let me know if you need additional detail on how to configure a useful, yet not too expensive lab.
Best of luck to you with this. I was in a similar position, but only had one workstation. I invested in more RAM to max out my workstation at 24 GB, and then I invested in a TechNet subscription of my own. Using the TN software, I could download the server OS, SQL app, and SharePoint and Project Server apps. I then created a handful of virtual machines to create a very realistic topology. TechNet also has “Test Lab Guides” for installing all the required pieces. This has been a great environment for me to do with whatever I want to learn more about Project and Project Server.