Over the last year or so, more and more, I’ve tried to find the best way to build and maintain a lab. Whilst I don’t have the budget or space, for a sizable lab like some of the other good folks in the community, I wanted a solution that works for me and enables me to continue learning and targeting more certifications in the future. I see my lab as an investment for the future to help develop me further.
My primary goal was having something suitable to run a number of different virtual servers and products, so I could integrate them together. For example, vSphere, Horizon View and supporting technologies like vCenter Operations Manager. Other requirements were keeping hardware to a minimum and power costs low.
Originally, I tried to run things from a laptop, with Intel Core i-7 and 16GB RAM, I thought this would work well and enable the flexibility of a ‘portal’ lab. This method was fine to begin with, for a handful of virtual machines, but eventually it was time to expand. I also wanted to leave my entire lab running, rather than shutting down my laptop or putting Windows into ‘sleep’ mode, which now and again didn’t play nicely with my running lab.
I’ve since opted for a powerful custom built desktop from http://www.pcspecialist.co.uk
Windows 7 64-bit and VMware Workstation v10.
- Intel Core i7 Quad Core Processor i7-3820 (3.6GHz) 10MB Cache
- ASUS P9X79 PRO
- 64GB DDR3 RAM
- x2 240GB INTEL 520 SSD
- x1 Samsung 840 Pro SSD
- x1 1TB 3.5″ SATA-III 6GB/s HDD 7200RPM
Many other folks have bought the various components from various sources and built their own system. My preference was for a pre-configured machine of my specification – all built, tested and raring to go. I also have a 2 year warranty included which just gives me peace of mind for the future, and one company to deal with if needed.
For shared storage, I’ve configured the StarWind iSCSI Free SAN
Current Configuration (Snapshot)
VMware Workstation v10 providing access to vSphere 5.5, SRM and vSphere Replication 5.5, Horizon View 5.2, Horizon View 5.3, Mirage 4.4 & vCenter Chargeback.
My nested ESXi hosts are running vCOPS 5.8 (inc Horizon View – 4v4), vCenter Infrastructure Navigator, vCenter Log Insight, vShield Manager and a few virtual desktops.
External storage may follow soon and Synology seems a very popular choice in the community. In terms of adding more hardware for virtual machines, that’s something I’m currently not planning on due to budget, space and power.