A thought.

gorebrushgorebrush Member Posts: 2,743 ■■■■■■■□□□
Well, I've been pondering over this one after helping out a friend of mine lately.

How many servers and clients, typically do you need for any MCSE type lab? I did all my MCSE training back on a single core PC with like, 4GB of RAM (Maybe) way back in 2005/2006 (I passed the MCSE 2003 in April 2006).

Nowadays, CPU cores and memory are cheap, but not everyone can afford to stand up machines left right and centre.

I realise EC2 could probably be used to stand up VM's, but how feasible is it as a training tool, and what if you could play a flat fee to have an ESX server to play with and get VM's hosted for you? Is this a service that is usable, or is the market for this nonexistent - i.e. 99% of people can accomodate this in their home computers.


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    poolmanjimpoolmanjim Member Posts: 285 ■■■□□□□□□□
    For the 70-410, 70-411, and most of the 70-412 (in progress) I have used a little homelab I have setup. Its a Mid-Tower with a AMD Phenom II x4 and 24GB of RAM with a 60GB SSD as the Windows Server 2012 R2 boot and a 1TB drive for VMs. At most I have managed to comfortably run 10-12 VMs before seeing enough latency on the disk and CPU to threaten my sanity.

    The challenge I have had is that I run Hyper-V as the Hypervisor (the AMD doesn't get a long with ESXi) and I haven't been able to easily lab the Hyper-V replica stuff. Beyond that this one computer has been more than enough to handle the labbing I have thrown at it.

    For my 70-412 knowing there were some heinously complicated topic they would throw at me, I have also picked up some lab time with Boson with the idea that I can target in on some of the harder things (RMS, FS, and Failover Clustering) that is a real nightmare to lab on my own.

    I say all of that to give you an idea of what my lab looks like and I imagine that I am probably in a better position than most with my lab setup. Realisticlly if you are conservative about how many VMs you launch, you can get by for most lab setups with 5 or so VMs running at once.

    Looking at Amazon EC2 and Azure and the cost of having similar setups with VMs is somewhat expensive. EC2 would be about $70 a month for 10 VMs with 2GB of RAM and 1 CPU running for 45 hours a week. I know those numbers are a little variable depending on a lot of different things but if you were to save up that case over the course of a few months, you could buy a really nice LAB computer that would challenge the EC2 setup. Azure is more expensive than that.

    I'm sure if there were some other service tailored specifically to lab setups, that is without the kind of data backups and redundency that EC2 offers, people would be interested but I'm not sure if the price margin would be able to compete with the big entities like Amazon AWS and Microsoft Windows Azure.
    2019 Goals: Security+
    2020 Goals: 70-744, Azure
    Completed: MCSA 2012 (01/2016), MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure (07/2017), MCSA 2017 (09/2017)
    Future Goals: CISSP, CCENT
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    bohackbohack Member Posts: 114
    My suggestion is to keep it simple when it comes to lab environments. You will spend more time in figuring out how it works than focusing on the objectives. VMware workstation runs fine and allows everything that ESXi would give you without dedicating a PC to it. I do agree with Poolmanjim with an SSD dedicated to VMs you don't hit latency issues and run out of memory before disk IO. I also teach these classes at the college I work for, obviously we use VM workstation and 8 to 12 GB to run 3 to 5 VMs comfortably. I've never needed to start more than 2 or 3 tops. If you are interested in making your own VMware Workstation lab take a look at this video https://youtu.be/lG3vXlo2q7M. I explain how to create the ultimate VMware Workstation lab.

    NetworkedMinds - http://www.youtube.com/networkedminds
    MCSA / MCSE Educational Channel
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    alan2308alan2308 Member Posts: 1,854 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Like bohack said, you may need a bunch if you do everything as laid out in the book (I ended up with 8 - 10 VMs total when I did the MCSA 2008 though I admit I subscribe to the theory of overkill), but I don't think there was ever a time I needed to have every one on at once. And if you can relax your standard for comfortable, you can allocate 1GB of RAM to each, leave 1GB for the host OS, and calculate out how many you can run at once from there. Grab the evaluation edition of Windows server from here, and the worst case is you need to buy a little more RAM. There's also no rule stating your VM's all have to run on the same machine, I've spun up one or two on the kids computer when I was starved for RAM.

    But one place I will disagree is with the idea of using VMWare. Hyper-V is heavily tested on the current exams so I don't see the value in using something else. Hyper-V is included in Win8 and Win10 with the same management tools as you'll find on Windows Server.
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