I have been running my home lab in Workstation for a good while now and it has served me well especially throughout my VCAP-DCA study. I am starting to do a bit more testing and proof-of-concept stuff with vSphere 5 and VDI so I need a little more. I have decided to invest in a beefy “whitebox” setup with ESXi 5.1 to run AutoLab.
So here is the new parts I put together. I chose the Shuttle SH67H3 barebone system since it supports up to 32GB RAM and the Intel i7. With some “Black Friday” deals at NewEgg.com I was able to put together a system that should work well for under $850.
Here is my new parts lists. The prices shown are the sale prices I paid and shipping was FREE.
So here is how I set things up.
The 500GB drive is used for all the Autolab VMs, including the NAS. I added a third 100GB disk to the NAS on the 128GB Flash drive to use as “Tier 1” storage for my AutoLab nested VMs. I created a separate NFS export for this on the FreeNAS VM and manually add the datastore on my hosts (not part of the AutoLab build). Here is a post I put together on how to do this. @DemitasseNZ sent me a tweet to say the next version of AutoLab will have some more pre-configured storage provisioned on the NAS.
I increased the RAM in the AutoLab ESXi hosts to 4 GB and set the reservation for the VMs to 4GB. This dedicates RAM to the nested ESXi hosts while still leaving plenty of RAM (24GB) available for the other supporting VMs. Depending on how things go I may up this a bit more.
Running nested 64-bit Guest VMs with AutoLab on ESXi 5.1
ESXi 5.1 installed without issue. Network cards and hard drives all recognized right out of the box 🙂 The issue I did have was with running nested 64bit guest VMs on the AutoLab ESXi hosts. This is because of some changes with the way VHV (Virtual Hardware-Assisted Virtualization) has to be enabled for the guests running on ESXi 5.1 that will be running nested VMs.
Here is a fantastic article on what needs to be done to enable VHV to allow nested VMs to run on virtual ESXi hosts running as guests on ESXi 5.1 http://www.virtuallyghetto.com/2012/08/how-to-enable-nested-esxi-other.html. Basically the AutoLab hosts VMs need to have their hardware version upgraded to 9 and then vhv.enable = “true” needs to be added to the host VMs’ .vmx file.
If you are looking to build a home lab for VCP or VCAP prep AutoLab makes the process extremely easy. Saves you a ton of trial and error time giving you a nice vSphere lab environment so you can quickly focus on study and lab task.
Go. Download. Now! http://www.labguides.com/autolab/