Sunday, July 1, 2012

bargain virtual esxi lab - july 2012

Instead of making a physical lab, setup a virtual lab. I made one for my vmware studies.

Get a good i7 with 32 gb of ram (the max right now), a couple disk drives, and the rest is software. One loaded ESXi host can run you a virtual datacenter.

In one drive (use your best - a small SSD will work great):

openfiler for iscsi
vCenter Server appliance for vcenter
at least 2 vESXi hosts

on the bigger drive, your virtual machines inside the vESXi hosts (this is what you give openfiler as disk resource)

switching is virtual, sharing the physical ESXi host's network - host to host is really fast :)

google can find you tutorials on each of the above; for openfiler i used the virtual appliance and uploaded it with the vsphere converter

the vcva appliance is a ovf template (

there are some tweaks you need to do to enable vitual ESXi hosts:

and your imagination is the limit - I expect to even be able to test SRM with this setup, if I can get 2 networks simulated (shouldn't be hard).

hw recommendations for a physical vmware home lab - july 2012

8 port gigabit switch with real vlans and link aggregation. only web based though (can be a plus or a minus)

around $100; total 100

small nas with iscsi/nfs - only 1 10gb nic though

add $200; total 300

2 3tb disks


add $300; total 600

NICs should be purchased as a bonus as vlan capabilities on the switch should be more than enough for a lab - but here are some contenders. I can't think of spending more than $50 per port; quad ports are more expensive than 2 dual ports and should only be considered when no more expansion slots are available (for example in shuttle machines). Remember to check the motherboard for exact pci express port capability. Plus, expect to work a bit on making drivers work on the non Intel and Hp.



i'd buy a couple dual ports, so add $100; total 700

for the actual hosts, an i7 with 32 gb ram and hopefully 2 gb connections in mb, in a very small form factor. These look nice enough. The older h67 is about $100 less in amazon, which is a big deal.

2 of those, add $500; total 1200

2 i7 8 core cpu's. Check thoroughly on the virtualization options offered by each processor. I would take a "faster/cheaper" one and another with "more virtualization features" so you can see the differences (remember ti match the motherboard to the processor and features, since both have to support them).

2 around $300 each; total 1800

64 gb of ram (8x8gb). It's the main thing that limits your environment, don't lose your time with less. If you have to go down on budget, compromise elsewhere.

Around $400; total $2200.

And that's it. You should have one of the best labs you can imagine. You'll need 2 4gb usb sticks to install esxi, network cables, a good surge arrest/ups, cheap keyboard, monitor, and a laptop from which to control it.

SSDs is prob overkill for a lab but if you have the money, i would setup a new nas with SSDs.

places to visit

my web sticky note on places i need to go to:

costa rica

playa nacascolo
san jose
puerto viejo


san juan del sur


islas de la bahia


grand canyon
new orleans

caribbean cruise