VMware nested lab hardware specs

nelnel Posts: 2,859Member ■□□□□□□□□□
Hey,

I am looking build a nested VMware environment to aid in my studies to become VCP5 certified. However, we dont have any spare kit at work i can use so i will either need to use hardware i have at home or look to buy some.

I know someone who is getting rid of some Dell precision T3400 workstations and i can get my hands on them for a good price. The machines have a intel quad core 2.4Ghz CPU, 160GB SATA HDDs and 4GB of RAM. Looking at the hardware specs, the T3400 supports a max of 8GB. So i will be looking to upgrade it to 8GB.

Would the hardware specs of this machine be enough to run the required VMs to help me with my studies? Most articles i see mention 16 or 32GB of ram! I can get the machine above for about AU$160 which is why i am keen to know. He has 3-4 he needs to part with so let me know if i need more than one to spread the VMs across due to the RAM limitations. :)

Cheers guys.
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Bsc (hons) Network Computing - 1st Class
WIP: Msc advanced networking

Comments

  • tstrip007tstrip007 Posts: 306Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    You can do it with 8gb but you will need to be methodical with your ram assignments. I personally would look into something that allows for at least 16gb. 2gb must be assigned to esxi hosts and 4 is recommended for vcenter. My lab is running in workstation on a single desktop with an intel i3, 16gb ram, 1tb sata. What I have has been perfect for my VCP studies.
  • Asif DaslAsif Dasl Posts: 2,116Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    My old lab had 2 x 8GB hosts and it was very hard to do anything & I was not nested either! I'd recommend a minimum 16GB system, I don't know if the vSphere 5.5 specs have changed but it would be something to think about. Build a machine for 5.5 not 5.1

    Edit - Also DDR2 RAM is still very expensive compared to DDR3, the cost to upgrade a couple of machines could make it not worth getting cheap DDR2 systems over a new DDR3 system.
  • JBrownJBrown Posts: 308Member
    I would suggest not to waste your money, time and energy on making nested vSphere run on low level, outdated desktop machines with 8GB or even 16GB of RAM. Don't forget that you will be introducing layer upon layer of virtualization. Yes, you will get it running, but you will waste more time, and energy with out much of a return to show for it, if you decide to go for a desktop system with regular HDD and less 16GB of ram.
    Get your self 1x cheap server off of ebay; Dell PowerEdge C1100/ HP G6 160, 72 GB of RAM, 2x CPUs with 4(6) core each, and 1x160GB HDD for less than $450 US. Through in 1 or 2 SSD drives; 250GB each, and 1x 2TB HDD. Entire Setup will run you less than $1000 US.
    Depending on your experience/licenses you have, set it up with either:
    1) Windows Server 08R2/2012-->RAID0 for SSD Drives>VMware Workstation> Nested vSphere 5.x
    2) vSphere 5.x hypervisor > each SSD Drive is a seperate datastore, vSphere does not support software RAID> Nest the vSphere 5.x

    Back everything up to the 2 TB drive.
  • SimonD.SimonD. Posts: 111Member
    Worth mentioning that vSphere 5.5 has a minimum requirement of 4GB of ram now, throw in a Domain Controller and vCenter (either fat or thin) and you're probably running out of ram about now.

    I run a home lab on a couple of different devices, I have a laptop that has 32GB ram fitted (MSI GT70) along with a couple of Shuttle SH67H3 boxes each with a 3770 cpu and 32GB ram, looking at increasing the shuttles by at least 1 more.
    My Blog - http://www.everything-virtual.com
    vExpert 2012\2013\2014\2015
  • ITMonkeyITMonkey Posts: 200Member
    SimonD. wrote: »
    However, we dont have any spare kit at work i can use so i will either need to use hardware i have at home or look to buy some..
    An inexpensive approach is to use VMware's Workstation 9 product, a level 1 hypervisor running on Windows 7 or 8. You can nest ESXi 5 vm's within it. I have used this approach to lab HA. Performance degradation is not noticeable on a lab machine using one or more SSD's.
  • nelnel Posts: 2,859Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks for the input guys, much appreciated. I will look for something a bit more powerful i guess.

    Anymore suggestions for a cheap server? the HP G6 160/ Dell C110 seem scarce in my neck of the woods!
    Xbox Live: Bring It On

    Bsc (hons) Network Computing - 1st Class
    WIP: Msc advanced networking
  • Asif DaslAsif Dasl Posts: 2,116Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    My suggestion: The Shuttle SZ87R6 (pdf here - page 4), it's going to be released in October according to this post - it's socket 1150 (Haswell). Pop 32GB in and a i7-4770 into it and it'll last you a few years. Get a Samsung 840 EVO 250GB or 500GB SSD (they are real cheap and fast) and you can pop 2 x HP NC364T in to the PCI-E x16 & PCI-E x4 slots to use with GNS3 to your switches for your Cisco/Juniper studies. It may not be that cheap but it's perfect for VMware/GNS3 labs. Small, quiet and supports dual-monitors too.

    The older model is the Shuttle SZ77R5 (socket 1155) - pdf here.
  • SimonD.SimonD. Posts: 111Member
    ITMonkey wrote: »
    An inexpensive approach is to use VMware's Workstation 9 product, a level 1 hypervisor running on Windows 7 or 8. You can nest ESXi 5 vm's within it. I have used this approach to lab HA. Performance degradation is not noticeable on a lab machine using one or more SSD's.

    You quoted the wrong person ;)
    My Blog - http://www.everything-virtual.com
    vExpert 2012\2013\2014\2015
  • SimonD.SimonD. Posts: 111Member
    Asif Dasl wrote: »
    My suggestion: The Shuttle SZ87R6 (pdf here - page 4), it's going to be released in October according to this post - it's socket 1150 (Haswell). Pop 32GB in and a i7-4770 into it and it'll last you a few years. Get a Samsung 840 EVO 250GB or 500GB SSD (they are real cheap and fast) and you can pop 2 x HP NC364T in to the PCI-E x16 & PCI-E x4 slots to use with GNS3 to your switches for your Cisco/Juniper studies. It may not be that cheap but it's perfect for VMware/GNS3 labs. Small, quiet and supports dual-monitors too.

    The older model is the Shuttle SZ77R5 (socket 1155) - pdf here.

    I really like the SH67H3 Shuttle, I have two of them and they run perfectly with my 3770 cpus (not the S,K or T).
    My Blog - http://www.everything-virtual.com
    vExpert 2012\2013\2014\2015
  • Asif DaslAsif Dasl Posts: 2,116Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    SimonD. wrote: »
    I really like the SH67H3 Shuttle, I have two of them and they run perfectly with my 3770 cpus (not the S,K or T).
    Yeah I've considered getting the SH67H3 but it only had a PCI-E x16 port and a PCI-E x1 port - So you can't get 2 PCI-E x4 Quad port NICs in to it. That and it runs DDR3-1333Mhz - I would instinctively go for the machine with faster RAM and more slots but it is still a good cheaper lab solution than the ones I listed above...
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