Question about the lab

affiacialnasteeaffiacialnastee Member Posts: 9 ■□□□□□□□□□
While Im doing my CCNA and now I got my lab I was thinking to move and do something else.

Im looking on the labs guides and I've seen everyone talking only about virtual machines.
You can't go with a physical lab?

I was wondering cause I want actual hands on experience and I want to move in that way. I got already 5 desktops running and 2 laptops and my cisco rack.

If is just my fault please let me know what I actually need.



  • pattman64pattman64 Registered Users Posts: 1 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I can only speak for myself, but using Hyper-V to create your 'LAB' machines is not only a convenience (you do not have to "physically have multiple machines" but if you have to "kill" a machine it's a lot easier to just delete the instance than it is to wipe and re-install. Also you can always create a 'base machine' for each OS you are likely to be needing and import as necessary from that base machine and is so much easier.
  • alan2308alan2308 CISSP, MCSA 2008, MCSA 2012, CCNA R&S, CCNA Security Ann Arbor, MIMember Posts: 1,854 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Besides all the benefits of using VMs, Hyper-V is covered in the MCSA exam topics. You need to know it.
  • affiacialnasteeaffiacialnastee Member Posts: 9 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Alright then, got that.

    So I just should get a server pc ?

    Any suggestions on that?
  • bettsy584bettsy584 Member Posts: 69 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Hi mate, yeah put some RAM/CPU into your PC and install something like VMware Workstation, this will allow you to create VM's. One of my lab servers has 64Gb RAM/i7/1TB SSD which can handle anything I can throw at it (it struggled a bit for XenDesktop when I was doing CCE).

    You can download ISO's of Server 2012 R2 etc from Google.

    Don't know why you would ever want a physical lab unless you have loads of space......
  • affiacialnasteeaffiacialnastee Member Posts: 9 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Cheers mate!

    Anything else except that?

    I got the following books to study

    Mastering Windows Server 2012 R2 (sybex)
    Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012 R2 (Exam Ref)
    Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012 R2 (Training Guide)

    Do I need anything else?
  • bettsy584bettsy584 Member Posts: 69 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Look for some video training, maybe CBT/Pluralsight or INE.

    Also look at Microsoft MVA, that's pretty good if you ignore all the sales crap. Also I have found the Microsoft Official Courseware guides to be good for pre-set labs, getting hold of the VHD's can be hard, but if you can build the environments yourself the labs are all set out for you. Google around you can find links to them.

    CCNA - look at INE CCNA Boot camp
  • affiacialnasteeaffiacialnastee Member Posts: 9 ■□□□□□□□□□
    So I got the PC as well.

    Cause I want to keep the cost/performance to an absolute minimum my friend ebay helped me.
    As I am going to use the machine for virtualization and other lab things I went with the following set up.

    x2 Intel Xeon E5620 (15£ for both)
    Supermicro MBD-X8DTL-3 (70£)
    48gb Samsung DDR3 1066 ECC (55£)

    For hard drives/power supply I'll grab some spares from my work and I'll just get a bit later one SSD for the primary disk.

    I don't think I can get better performance on that budget, any thoughts on that lads?

  • AndersonSmithAndersonSmith Member Posts: 471 ■■■□□□□□□□
    It's definitely possible to use physical labs if you have the hardware; most of us just use VMs for convenience and to keep the cost down for our lab environments. Also, as others have said - Hyper-V is one of the objectives for the exam(s) so using it for you lab isn't a bad idea. Most of the training videos and lab manuals I've used seem to have the assumption that you're using VMs for you lab as well but it's really just up to you and what you're comfortable with.
    All the best,

    "Everything that has a beginning has an end"
  • affiacialnasteeaffiacialnastee Member Posts: 9 ■□□□□□□□□□
    It just happens to be already in the IT industry and I have access to a lot of different stuff.
    On top of that I have a vast knowledge on hardware and I'm ''addicted'' to it (I'm trading stuff almost everyday).

    That's why I was curious about the physical lab, I couldn't find any kind of info's even when I was looking for my cisco rack the situation was kind of the same but not to that extent - zero information at all - that's why I bothered and opened the topic.

    For now I'll go with the set up above and VM for the begging, BUT I'm pretty sure once I get into the thing the physical lab is inevitableness.
  • GSXR750K2GSXR750K2 Member Posts: 325 ■■■■□□□□□□
    No need for a multi-server physical lab other than the necessary machine, or machines, to run your Hyper-V machines. Being able to provision a new virtual server and have it up and running within five minutes has done away with the need to have 5-10 servers in a lab (and cut down on cooling bills). Throw a group of Hyper-V hosts together and use shared storage to make a Failover Cluster and you can move a virtual server from one physical node to another in real-time. VMs are where it's at, you just need enough hardware to drive the workload.

    If you get a chassis that can hold a lot of NICs (eight or so), you can assign some individual VMs into their own ports and run them through your Cisco gear to better emulate a "real" environment. That's what I did to keep the Cisco practice up when I embarked on the MCSE journey.
  • affiacialnasteeaffiacialnastee Member Posts: 9 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Any suggestions on the hardware that I'll need, the combo I made in the previous post is decent? (I actually got the same mobo on a different deal that comes on a rack case).

    Can you provide me with more information about the last paragraph please?
  • GSXR750K2GSXR750K2 Member Posts: 325 ■■■■□□□□□□
    That should be fine for a learning lab. Memory is the important thing. You'll find as you play with dynamic memory that servers don't chew up as much memory as you think, so you can play with over-provisioning (running more VMs than your memory can handle on paper). Over-provisioning is like an insurance's very unlikely every one of your clients will file a claim at the same time, so you don't necessarily have to have all of the cash on hand to cover that many claims. Same with RAM, not all of your servers will run at peak demand all of the time.

    In Hyper-V there are three networking types...external, internal, and private. An external network uses an actual, external NIC (or set of NICs in a Team) to allow the VM to talk to the outside world. An internal connection lets the VMs talk to other VMs on the same host and with the host itself, but doesn't use a dedicated physical interface. Private connections also don't use a physical interface and are VM to VM on the same host only, making them completely isolated (great for moving backup data or testing stuff in a production environment).

    Using the external network allows you to assign a NIC to one or more VM and then physically cable that NIC to something. This is what the VM will talk through, so if you want that VM to talk on a particular VLAN then just set it on your switch port and the VM will communicate just as a physical server would if it were plugged into that port. For NIC aggregate teaming you'll just configure the switch ports you want to use for LACP and then you have high throughput and redundancy for whatever VMs are assigned to that team.


    You can run any combination of these network types on any VM. One external for production, one internal for accessing files on the host (doesn't interfere with production traffic), and one private for moving files between VMs on the same host (also doesn't interfere with production traffic). Or you can do two external connections with one on a separate subnet or VLAN to segregate your play from production traffic.
  • affiacialnasteeaffiacialnastee Member Posts: 9 ■□□□□□□□□□
    48gb won't be enough you think? (I doubt that I'm going to run more than 10 vm's)

    Also can you suggest me a NIC combo to get that as well?

    Much appreciate your effort.
    Thanks a lot mate!
  • GSXR750K2GSXR750K2 Member Posts: 325 ■■■■□□□□□□
    48 GB will be plenty. You can specify a maximum amount of RAM a VM can consume, so if you allow 4 GB for the host (shouldn't need that much) and 2 GB for each VM (not a lot, but it'll work), you can run 22 VMs in theory, but you could actually run more if practice (may be a slow environment if your processor is working hard).

    For example, see the "RAM" screenshot (the big one) from a node on one of our clusters with 256 GB RAM installed. There are 18 VMs currently on that node including roles such as WSUS, Exchange 2013, SQL 2014, some data servers, etc. The Exchange DAG members have a dedicated 32 GB each, so if you take that out there's only 58 GB being used among 17 machines (looks like SQL is using 16 GB at the moment, if you want to subtract that out as well). Now look at the "RAM_Used" screenshot. I've removed the identifying info obviously, but that is an Active Directory server that only needs 746 MB, so Hyper-V has allocated only 910 MB. As it needs more Hyper-V will allocate more on the fly up the max amount specified. So, you can overload what the RAM should be capable of compared to the same quantity of physical machines because the VMs will only sip on the amount of memory they need most of the time. Through Dynamic Memory Allocation you can get more bang that what you should be getting for your buck. You can't do that with a physical machine. :)

    As far as the NICs, I use Intel PRO-1000 GT quad-cards to get the most amount of NICs in my lab boxes. If you have four PCIe slots you can get 16 NICs in the chassis using those and that will give you a lot of experimenting options.
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