Category Archives: Home Lab

Home Lab Refresh

I’ve had my old lab a while now which consists of the following:

2 x Mac Mini w/16GB RAM and 256GB SSD upgrades

1 x Cisco SG300 24 port GB switch

1 x Synology DS412+ w/ 2 x 256GB Samsung Pro SSD and 2 x 2TB WD RED HDD

I also have an iMac with Core i7, 32GB RAM and 1TB fusion drive which allows me to spin up some workloads to ease congestion on the Mac Mini’s. 

This has served me well, however, the 16GB RAM in the Mac Minis was really a limitation, especially when I wanted to spin up and down different vApps consisting of a number of items which could easily consume the combined 32GB RAM available.

Luckily, there are a number of people in the community who had done the hard work for me in testing and blogging about various methods which meant I could be lazy and simply look for the feedback of others. The stand out two sites I looked at were that of  Frank Denneman and Fred Hoffer.

I had a few requirements that I needed to meet which were:

R01: Be quiet, be very quiet

R02: Have IPMI/WoL capability (IPMI preferred)

R03: Be able to spin up vApps containing multiple VMs (i.e., A Horizon View environment), without delay from resource constraints 

After some design workshops in my head, and avoiding talking to the CFO (in this case my wife to be) I decided I would keep a single Mac Mini as a management server (running ESXi 5.5) and I would host the vCenter appliance, a DC and a jump box which I can connect from remotely, all installed on a local 1TB SATA drive. The Mac Mini is silent and has very little power draw so I don’t mind leaving it powered on 24/7.

I already have a NAS which is more than adequate for the my needs and allows me to use the WoL function so I can power on remotely only when needed, and the switch I have, whilst is not 10GB but in reality id much more than I need.

Due to the expense of the system I went for I have only purchased one to start with, but plan on adding a second further down the line, for now though, this should keep me busy.

So, the all important kit list: (I’ll link to the manufacturer site for parts) I was lucky enough to be in the US twice already this year, so I got some parts over there! (Note: This setup may look familiar if you’ve read the above blogs)

Case: Fractal Design R4 

Motherborad: SuperMicro X9SRH-7TF

CPU: Intel Xeon E52620V2???

CPU Cooler: Noctura NH-U9DXi4

Power Supply: Corsair RM550

SSD: Samsung 840 Pro 256GB (x2)

This platform rocks and is almost silent. I’m going to upgrade to vSphere 6 shortly so will have a further post about the configuration at a later date. Thanks to the vExpert programme for giving me the ability to licence my lab!

Hey 10Zig – You Guys Rock!

This all started back in November of last year, when I wrote the post Calling all Thin Client Vendors. If you haven’t read the post I’m basically calling out vendors to lend me some kit with PCoIP compatibility for some testing I want to do at home in my own time and at my own pace. Cheeky I know, but hey, sometimes if you don’t ask you don’t get. Luckily for me, the ‘first’ lady of the virtualisation world (Jane Rimmer – if you hadn’t of guessed already!) read my post and got the attention of the guys over at 10Zig.

After some good conversations with James Broughton and Tom Dodds I re-iterated the point to them this was for personal use only, it wasn’t linked to a client and I doubted they would get any sales from this, they were still happy to work with me and lend me some units – how cool is that?

Not long after conversations were flowing, I got a completion date to move into my first ‘owned’ house, I lined up a couple of VCAP exams, then got engaged and was then placed on a long term fast paced project, I just didn’t see me having the time to carry out any of the testing I had planned, so I reluctantly told the guys to keep hold of the units they had planned to lend me.

A few weeks ago, Tom got back in touch to see if I were in a position to look at the units again – this time I was. Within a few days I had a large package arrive and was amazed to see the contents!10Zig GoodnessThey have sent me two (yes two!) V1200 series zero clients, the dual screen V1200-P TERA2 (Click here for info) and the quad screen V1200-QP TERA2 (Click here for info).

Also, and unexpectedly they also threw in a 5118v thin client (Click here for info) with Windows 8 Embedded to allow me to compare Thin vs Zero devices.

To top it all off, they have also arranged for me to have direct contact with their support team and a WebEx session to introduce me to the tech and get me on my way!

I’d better spin up my lab and make sure VMware View is ready to get put through its paces with these devices!

Stay tuned for some further posts on the performance of these units.

Finally Jane, thanks for putting me in contact with these guys! Tom, James thanks again for the generosity.

 

Calling all Thin Client Vendors

Aside from my day job, buying a new house, studying for VCAP exams, presenting at VMUG’s (The Belgian VMUG is next week), I have a couple of personal side projects I’m working on, both virtualization related of course. The first exciting project is well under way and I hope to announce it very soon. They second is still in it’s infancy and is the reason for this blog post, so I’m hoping it works!

I’d like to reach out to all thin client vendors who offer  thin clients with Teradici PCoIP chips built in to ‘donate’ or ‘loan’  a unit to me for some testing. You may be thinking, I work for a well known virtualization consultancy, surely I have some contacts I could call upon. Yes, I do, however I want to be completely upfront and honest this probably wont lead to a sale and is not in anyway associated with Xtravirt. You may also be thinking why don’t you just go and buy one for yourself. I could, but I’ve just bought a house, also buying a single unit wont get me any relationship with a vendor. Whilst I’m not intending to pester any vendor for information, perhaps some questions may come from my testing.

So why provide me with a unit? Well, I’ll certainly blog about your kindness, so please ping me a message on Twitter and let’s have a chat!

 

My Study… What’s Next?

I’ve decided, after a week break from study to pursue my next exam milestone(s), in the form of the VCAP exams for Data Center Virtualisation. It seems to make logical sense to focus on the Data Center design exam first, having just spent a lot of time studying for the desktop design exam. I’ve spent the past 18 months, more hands off the day to day administration of vSphere and focusing predominately on design work so, the VCAP-DCA will take a bit more effort wiping away the cobwebs, therefore I’m aiming to complete in the early part of next year.

I plan on completing study guides covering off the objectives in the same way I did for the VCAP-DTD. I appreciate many have done this before me, and there are too many sites to mention here, however I find this way of studying the most beneficial, therefore will continue, If I can help others in the process, all the better!

Before this however, and partly due to a change in direction in my work role to focus more towards private cloud, I took advantage of a recent discount offer and booked my VCP-IaaS exam, which I’ll study for alongside my VCAP-DCD studies. I’ve decided not to focus as much time writing study guides for the VCP exam, however decided I’d share a list of materials I’ll be using to focus on the VCP-IaaS.

  • The exam blueprint, the first port of call for any exam. I’ll download and review the blueprint, then refer back to this throughout my study to ensure I can confidentially cover off all the requirements in each objective.  I’ll also read all the suggested official documentation in the blueprint.
  • My home lab. You need hands on exposure on all exams. I’ll predominately be using the vCD appliance (which I already have setup) however I’ll install vCD in a RHEL server a few times, to ensure I can cover this off.
  • TrainSignal (or PluralSight if you prefer) offer three vCloud focussed training courses:
    • VMware vCloud Director 5.1 Essentials by Chris Wahl
    • VMware vCloud Director Essentials by David Davis and Jake Robinson
    • VMware vCloud Director Organisations by Jake Robinson

As the first title suggests, Chris Wahl’s series is based on 5.1, whereas the exam focuses on 1.5. There is still bucket loads of good information in here, so well worth watching. If you do not subscribe to TrainSignal, it truly is worth it, subscribe here!

If I use any further materials, then I’ll update this post. The VCAP-DCD study guides should also start coming fairly soon!

UNSUPPORTED – Bypass the 8GB RAM limit in VMware Fusion

Note: This is completely UNSUPPORTED, VMware will not support any issues that may arrise from carrying out this change.

Now we have that out of the way…

Whilst building up my homelab I was preparing some vESXi hosts (Nested ESXi http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2009580) and soon realised that I was limited adding a maximum of 8GB per vESXi host.

Fusion 8GB MaxWhilst this is an imposed limit  through the GUI, there is a workaround by amending the VMX file.

From Finder, navigate to your Virtual Machine files, Right Click the file for your Virtual Machine and select ‘Show Package Contents’.

Show Package Contents

 

From here all the virtual machine files will be displayed, search for the ‘VMX’ file, right click and select open with ‘Text Edit’

Open Text File

Amending the VMX file in Fusion, is the same as ESXi and Workstation. We need to search for the ‘mem size’ field and amend the value inside the quotation marks to our desired values. You will see form the images below, I’ve replaced 2GB with 16GB.

vmx filesSave the change and close Text Edit and Finder and power on your virtual machine in VMware Fusion. You’ll notice when the VM is powered on, that a warning appears stating the machine is configured with an unsupported memory size

VM Power On Warning

Tick the box to ignore the warning and wait for the machine to boot. Once booted you’ll notice your host has the desired amount of RAM….. easy.

ESX console

vi client