VMware Home Lab – Intro

For a long time I’ve wanted to build a home VMware lab for working toward the VCP qualification.  Having taken a step back this year from other commitments that have taken up huge amounts of time for the last 3 or 4 years I now want to aim to get it out of the way by the end of Q2 this year.

I was going to use the Dell 1U Cloud Server that I bought a couple of years ago, but it’s simply too loud and wifey won’t let me run it for any decent length of time- and besides you don’t need the heating on when it’s running!  I was also going to use my Synology NAS as I have an old 100GB iSCSI target on it already.

So last year – as I do a lot of this stuff for my job – I bought a Lenovo W540 laptop with a whopping 32GB RAM and a 4-core i7 (8 cores with hyper-threading) specifically for running vms.  I work a lot with VMware so need something to run vms on.  It also has a CD replacement 1TB hard drive.  I bought a copy of VMware Workstation 10 and had a play.  The 1TB drive frankly is way too slow.  So after a bit of research into the speed differences between Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 – I bought a 500GB Crucial M4 SSD and a USB 3.0 caddy –  there’s very little between them.  Having loaded up the drive, I can run a full AutoLab off the SSD with practically no loss of performance.

But then it went missing.

So I had to start again.  I bought another 500GB M4 and another USB 3.0 caddy,  Only this time I’m going to do things a bit differently.

Having signed up for the new VMUG Advantage program, I got myself a 365-day licenced vCenter 5.5.  I already have the relevant vSphere client, but though I don’t like it I really aught to get to grips with the new web client.  I have 2 ESXi 5.1 hosts – I want to go a proper upgrade path  to 5.5 U2 and have VUM running properly.

I had a look at the way a lot of people ran their labs and finally settled on something akin to this one:

My current setup is as follows:

  • VMware Workstation 11 (Really don’t like the new interface – looks like an old CDE or Win 3.1 icon set.)
  • DC – Windows 2008 R1
  • Domain: Lab.local – I know – so unimaginative.  But short to type!
  • OpenFiler NAS with 40GB iSCSI and 10GB NFS shares
  • 2 nested ESXi 5.1 hosts – build 799733 – lots of updating to do for practice.
    • 4GB RAM
    • 2 vCPU – 2 cores each.  Because I can…
    • iSCSI and NFS datastores
  • vCenter 5.5

So that’s it for now.  I have some small Linux OVFs to try out on the hosts.

That’s it for now.  I’ll post updates as it goes along.





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