Vmware esx(i) home lab – why, what and how considerations when building your own home lab. 76 gas station jobs


I thought I’d put a post together to discuss what I have learnt whilst running a home virtualization lab along any hints or tips I thought may be of use to others considering building their own. I’ve already written a number of posts (see bottom of this post for links) around ‘how’ to build a VMware ESX(i) lab using my favourite server(s) of choice the HP Proliant ML110 and ML115 range though thought a higher level perspective on ‘why’ and ‘what’.

– Hand On Learning: Probably the most common reason for putting together your own virtualization lab is to jump onto the kit, wrestle and get your hands dirty with it – breaking it, fixing it and then breaking it again in the process. gas definition chemistry This is my preferred option for learning about a product or new item of technology, though obviously you do need the luxury of time. Very few of us in IT have the opportunity or access to the necessary non-production hardware during the working day to spend any meaningful length of time in doing this.

Your actual hardware from which you run your hypervisor could be a laptop running VMware Workstation which in turn is running VMware ESXi with nested VMs or it could be some old server kit that you ‘liberated’ when your work was performing their recent server hardware refresh and was going to end up in the skip. There are also some good deals to be had on entry level server hardware which can be as cheap as a couple of hundred pounds/dollars/euros (delete where appropriate). I maintain a list of any hot deals I come across or am told about on this site which can be found at the top of the page in the ‘Hot Deals’ section.

To gain ‘official’ support from VMware for a ESX(i) implementation whether it be in a production or lab environment you need to, as would be expected, pay for it. Purchasing support, I would suggest, isn’t at all necessary for a home lab and as will be discussed below probably wouldn’t able to be obtained in most home lab instances anyway due to the hardware you’ll be running it on.

With every new version of VMware ESX(i) that comes out the list of compatible devices and components officially supported, or otherwise, grows ever longer. It was often the case with VMware ESX(i) 3 and 3.5 that the majority of components would work on your un-supported server hardware but either the disk controller, network controller or both would not work. To get around this would usually involve some (unsupported) hacking to the ESX(i) ISO build to modify or inject drivers or inserting compatible components to get around the issue. electricity production in usa With the release of ESX(i) 4 it is more common than not for server based components to be successfully detected and work without the need for any undesirable hacking to the build.

You can download a permanent licensed version of the free edition of ESXi though this to be honest doesn’t really give you much to play with in your home lab, at least not long term. hair electricity song The real ‘fun’ stuff such as HA, DRS and FT along with other VMware products such as SRM, CapacityIQ and AppSpeed are only available for download, as would be expected, as time limited evaluations. What this means in reality is that you will probably be looking at using multiple email accounts to download a fresh evaluation copy when your original copy expires. This can prove to be a hassle if you’re wanting to run a product longer than the 30 or 60 day evaluation period for testing, etc. In the absence of any MS TechNet type subscription this is the only real option open to you and your home lab.

Another consideration when planning your lab is that once your ESX(i) host or hosts are up and running you are going to want to install VMs running an OS in your new lab. grade 6 science electricity test Unless you are using an open source OS such as Linux you are most probably going to be looking at a Microsoft Server based OS. By far the most (legal) cost effective way of gaining access to your own Microsoft licenses for use in a lab environment is via a Microsoft TechNet subscription. For a few hundred pounds/dollars/euros a TechNet subscription will gain you access to the vast majority of Microsoft’s operating systems and applications with your own unique license keys – this is a total bargain and a good investment of money in my opinion. There are regular TechNet discount codes that can be applied to new subscriptions – check out the ‘Hot Deals’ section at the top of this page as I keep this updated with the latest TechNet discount codes I come across.

As mentioned at the start of this post ESX(i) can now be run from within VMware Workstation though as you’d expect the performance wouldn’t be as good as running the ESX(i) hypervisor directly on PC/server hardware. gas x user reviews The following list is assuming that you will be running ESX(i) on its own dedicated PC/server and are outlining a basic lab configuration only:

From this straight forward ESX(i) lab configuration you will be able to run a single or multiple nested VMware ESX(i) instances – memory permitting. This will be sufficient for most basic requirements though depending on the level of performance from the hardware on which you are running it you may find that running nested ESX(i) instances a little slow.

Additional Memory: VMware ESX(i) loves memory and depending on the number of VMs you are running adding extra physical memory to your ESX(i) hosts is never a bad thing. Increasing the ESX(i) host’s memory can be expensive when wanting to add over 8GB as more costly high capacity DIMMS will likely be needed (assuming your host can take this much memory in the first place).

– Noise: If using an enterprise level server you’ll most likely find that the noise it generates, let alone two or more of them, is significant. This is fine if you are fortunate enough to have a basement or garage in which to run it from though I can almost guarantee that your other-half won’t see the fascination of hosting your own lab server in the corner of your lounge. 🙂

– Power: Running your own home lab can be a costly affair though it really does depend on whether you leave it on 24 x 7 or not. Each of my ESX(i) hosts which are running on an HP Proliant ML110/ML115 G5 with 8GB memory and 1 x SATA disk consume on average 85W of power. gas city indiana restaurants Add your management PC, TFT, network switch and any share storage into the mix and you can easily chew through 350W-500W of power. If running your lab 24×7 check that you are getting the best deal from your electricity supplier.

– Money: Depending on the server, network and storage hardware you decide to go for you can end up spending a decent amount on it. That said, it is just as easy to put together a lab solution by keeping your ear to the ground for any appropriate hardware that your work may be looking at dumping during a hardware refresh cycle. At the end of the day though you can start as small as you want and slowly add extra pieces of hardware or upgrades over time – just remember, you don’t have to do it all at once!

I have a number of articles already covering the topic of how to install VMware ESX(i) onto your home lab server. Check out these for more details and the other great articles from other bloggers listed below. Please let me know if I’ve left any other good home lab related articles off of this list as I know I have likely accidently overlooked some.