samwyse
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Need help building a Fusion-based home VCP lab

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Since Apple was nice enough this week to infintestimally cut the prices on last year's Macbook Pros, I got one for my wife, with the promise that I could use it for my VCP self-study.  The specs are:

Processor  2.2 GHz Intel Core i7 (that's a quad, BTW)

Memory  8 GB 1333 MHz DDR3

Storage  500 GB SATA (436.49 GB free)

Graphics  AMD Radeon HD 6750M 512 MB

Software  Mac OS X Lion 10.7.4 (11E53)

I've installed Fusion and created two VMs with bridged networking, each running ESXi5.  On another (Windows) laptop, I've installed the vSphere client, and can see the two VMs.  Now I'm just about ready to review my classroom training, but there's at least one more thing I need:  shared storage to use as my datastore.

I'd like to run a virtual NAS server in Fusion, and use it to provision the 2nd tier VMs in the ESXi servers.  Until the appliance store was revamped, you could find all sorts of oddball VM images, including iSCSI and NAS servers based on every flavor of Linux under the sun.  Now, however, I'm unable to find anything suitable.  Should I just roll-my-own using Damn Small Linux or something, or is there an appliance I've missed?

Also, is there any other stuff I need for my virtual data center? 

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scott28tt
VMware Employee
VMware Employee

You could look at building a VM running OpenFiler or FreeNAS, or a Windows VM running either the Microsoft iSCSI Target or StarWind's iSCSI SAN.

You will also need a VM running vCenter Server, you can download and install the software on top of Windows, or download the vCenter Server Appliance from the vSphere downloads area.


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scott28tt
VMware Employee
VMware Employee

You could look at building a VM running OpenFiler or FreeNAS, or a Windows VM running either the Microsoft iSCSI Target or StarWind's iSCSI SAN.

You will also need a VM running vCenter Server, you can download and install the software on top of Windows, or download the vCenter Server Appliance from the vSphere downloads area.


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VMware Training & Certification blog

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samwyse
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

OpenFiler and FreeNAS both look good.  SInce I'm running on a Macbook, I'm more interested in the non-Microsoft solutions.  I downloaded the vCenter Server .ISO, and discovered that it doesn't included the OVF image.  Smiley Sad  So tonight I'm going to download that and try setting it up.  Hopefully, it can be installed under Fusion, otherwise I'll have a chicken-and-egg problem to resolve.

Going through my class notes again, it looks like I'll need an NTP server.  Setting that up on my Linux-based storage appliance should be easy.

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AndreTheGiant
Immortal
Immortal

Download the vCenter Appliance if you don't want to use the Windows version

Andre | http://about.me/amauro | http://vinfrastructure.it/ | @Andrea_Mauro
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scott28tt
VMware Employee
VMware Employee

The .ISO you downloaded contains the installations files for the version of vCenter Server that runs on top of Windows.

You need the vCenter Server Appliance download instead, you should end up with an .OVF and one or more .VMDK files.


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VMware Training & Certification blog
slaclair
VMware Employee
VMware Employee

You can also load the P4000 in a fusion VM, it comes with a free 30-day trial that should be more than enough to study with.  Plus you can always offload your VM's and reload it.

One problem that I had with fusion (that doesn't exist with Workstation) that it doesn't let you specify which SCSI node you want your virtual disks on.  I know the P4000 needs to see the virtual disks that would be used for your san storage on a separate device node from the boot disk  (not sure if the other filers behave this way or not) so you have to manually edit your vmx file to point your VMDK from scsi node 0:1 to 1:0.

There is also the NetApp Simulator which has you limited at 40gb, but it will still allow you to go through the motions of setting up iSCSI and NFS.  I have both running in Fusion so if you need an assist just shoot me a PM on here.

As far as management, I would spin up a normal windows VM so you can still have the VI client, PowerCLI, OVFtool, etc... Run your vCenter in a VM, there's no chicken/egg issue with doing that.

Also, if you want to save yourself some pain I highly suggest getting a SSD.

VCAP5-DCD/DCA/CIA, VCA4-DT
samwyse
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

After a bit of research, I'm going to live a bit dangerously and use the OpenDedup appliance.  In its favor are price (free), length of trial (no expiration), and vCenter integration (which I'll be testing).  OpenDedup produces a file system that can be installed on either Linux or Windows servers, and the appliance is Ubuntu based.  The back-end store can be replicated between nodes, and can be either local (virtual) disks or Amazon S3 (which I suspect is used more for off-site backups instead of live data).  I'll be interested to see how fast it can create a dedup'ed copy of a VM.

And making it my NTP server it only required running one command, "aptitude install ntp" and adding one line to the config file "restrict 192.168.1.0 mask 255.255.255.0 notrap nomodify".

I've got the vCenter Server Appliance running, but I may need to increase its virtual RAM; the web client is slow and I occasionally get plug-in failures. Plus I'm not seeing all the functionality of the dedicated client. I have another laptop running Windows where I'm installing all of the extra tools, because I don't think the Macbook can handle the load many Windows VMs.

I'm running all of the Fusion VMs with bridged networking (which I needed to install and run NTP on the OpenDedup server), but my wife and kids have noticed that our wifi network slows to a crawl when everything is running.  I may reconfigure everything to use host-only networking (except for a second bridged NIC on the OpenDedup server to handle the NTP traffic to the internet).

The good news is, I'm learning a lot, the bad news is, it isnt stuff that will be on the VCP test.

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K2011
Contributor
Contributor

I'm not quite sure why you need an NTP server in your lab. Others will correct me if I'm wrong but NTP is used by ESX/ESXi hosts to maintain the correct time. The NTP client needs to be configured with an NTP time server (uk.pool.ntp.org for example) then the service needs to be started or restarted, ensuring ESX/ESXi hosts keep good time.

As for the learning I'm sure it will ultimately give you a better understanding of what's required to setup a lab.

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