Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Creating a Virtual (Home) Lab for VMware VCP & VCAP - Step One: Design

This article is part of my Virtual Lab Series.

In the first part of this series I discussed the over all design of this lab.
In the second part of this series I discussed how I installed ESXi.
In the third part I discuss some of the quirks of VMware HA I encountered.

A few months ago I attempted to create a Virtual Lab based on my laptop but due to work and life craziness, the project fizzled.  It's now time to pick it back up and provide some clarity and direction to the project.  Consider this a reboot.

First off, what am I trying to do?  I wanted a lab to help study for VCAP but this could easily be used for VCP as well.  I decided not to purchase dedicated servers and storage because I really don't want all that gear at my house.  I manage enough hardware on a daily basis, no need to add to that.

What hardware do you need?  I recommend the maximum amount of memory your PC will support as well as an SSD based disk to handle the IOP's the virtual machines will create.  I've tried this on a regular HD in the past, trust me, it's very painful.  My MacBook Pro now has 8GB and a 240GB SSD.  Details on that are here.

What can you do in the lab?  The goal of this lab isn't to provide an environment to run a bunch of virtual machines.  Because I'll be running ESXi inside Fusion (Player and Workstation work great as well), that really isn't the intent here.  The focus is on Virtual Center and ESXi, not the virtual machines.

What other benefits are there to the virtual lab?  Two other major benefits are that the lab is always with me since it is on my laptop and it is much more cost effective (8GB RAM and SSD = $500-700 vs. Dedicated Home Lab = $2k+)

What will the project look like?  Here is a quick graphic of what I hope to be the end result.  I will have two ESXi hosts, a Virtual Center server, an AD, DNS & SMTP relay, and lastly a storage VSA for iSCSI and NFS mounts.  For details on how I "trick" the Fusion/Player/Workstation networking by using static IP's instead of DHCP, see this article.  That's it for today, next time we'll install ESXi!


kacole said...

Aaron, you can't run AD on the same server as vCenter. vCenter uses ADAM to do most of it's work. The vCenter install will fail if it sees AD installed.

Aaron Delp said...

I have no idea what you're talking about... (fixing that now). Thanks for the heads up. I've always had them split in the past but Win2k8 is such a damn memory pig, I wanted to consolidate.


Anonymous said...

Its actually possible, but you have to install the vCenter first.
Google is you friend...

Anonymous said...

Great blog. Was curious if you have tried to install Nexus 1K as your vDS for this setup?

Aaron Delp said...

Actually I do plan to do exactly that. More to come, soon I hope! Thank you!