Microsoft have created lots of test lab for us geeks to try out different Microsoft stuff easy.
The range of product and technologies are wide, we will find basic things like “Step-by-Step Guide for Setting Up IPv6 in a Test Lab” to learn more about IPv6, and more sophisticated guides that also might be more product focused like the “Test Lab Extension: System Center 2012 Endpoint Protection”.
So you will find lots of guides covering different technologies in Windows Server 2008 R2, 2012 and product related like Sharepoint, System Center, SQL and Exchange.
In most cases the guides will be based on the same baseline configuration, so you can actually create a virtual environment that you can export and have ready for the next time you want to try a different lab (or if you messed up the one you have and forgot snapshot/backup)
The Base labs are:
Test Lab Guide: Windows Server 2012 Base Configuration
Test Lab Guide: Base Configuration (Windows Server 2008 R2)
Some of the guides will setup from scratch but in most cases you can just use the base setting and modify them a bit.
You can also download different hydration kits to automate the creation of your lab environment. Hydration Kits are a sets of scripts that automate the creation of environments, most commonly using Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT)
There are different types of Hydration kits available. Microsoft Proof of Concept Jumpstart are now out in version 6 and based on System Center Configuration Manager 2012 with service pack 1. It will create a total setup for you like the test lab guide for Windows Server 2012 base configuration. It contains great guides and are an excellent tools to learn Windows deployment
Microsoft Hydration Kit
There are lots of Hydration Kits that can create lab or production environment from your own fully licensed software (or trial version if you want to). These kits can create a new domain and lots of servers to generate a fitting lab environment for your needs.
The Deployment Bunny
If you don’t want to setup an own lab environment you can use Microsoft “Virtual Labs”. The labs will give you a virtual lab environment and a lab manual to work out from.
Windows Server 2012 Virtual Labs
Windows Server 2008 R2 Virtual Labs
Technet Virtual Labs (Different Technologies)
TechNet Virtual Labs: Express (SQL 2008 & R2)
Technet Virtual Labs: System Center
Microsoft Private Cloud Guided Labs