Home Lab Setup

Once again, I have found myself rebuilding my home lab as I find more features to play with. It does become a little tedious, but it does also provide a good opportunity to look into fresh design possibilities and be able to play and test them out.

I thought in this blog, I might just take you through a baseline setup that I use and suggest to those who are starting out in either their early days using vSphere or are on their journey to a VMware certification.

There are a couple of ways you can build your lab, I am running VMware Workstation 9.0 and nesting ESXi  hypervisor inside as a virtual machine. (When you start adding VMs to the virtualized hypervisor, it starts to become inception like.)   You can purchase physical gear as well, although, I have found, as much as I love using the real stuff, the power bill wasn’t happy.  

When I talk about “physical” servers, keep in mind that they are virtualized in VMware Workstation. When I build my lab, I tend to build a “physical” Domain Controller and vCenter servers, followed by three ESXi hypervisors and an Openfiler NAS/File Server for an iSCSI Storage Array.  The reason why I use a “physical” Domain Controller and vCenter is so that I can perform deployments into companies where they have a Domain Controller and are implementing virtualization. It is also a good way to practice P2V.

Each hypervisor consists of 4 NICs:

  • 1 x Management Network
  • 1 x Standby
  • 2 x Storage
For best practice, the storage network and SAN (Openfiler)  are on a separate subnet from the production network. 
If you are limited on resources and can’t stretch out to run Openfiler, there are some great tools available for running an iSCSI inside a windows OS, such as Starwinds Free iSCSI, or the Microsoft iSCSI Target.  If you have several different sized hard drives that you want to put into an array for either performance or storage space for the purpose of creating a “SAN” storage, you can create drive pools with Windows 8/Server 2012. 
In the end, I connect to my vCenter server using vSphere c# Client or WebGUI on my host computer. 
There we go. There is just a small insight into a baseline setup for learning your way around vSphere and how I set up my lab. 

If you have anything you would like me to cover, or any general comments, please feel free to leave them below.  Thanks. 

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