VCP-DCV lab setup question

SteveFerSteveFer Member Posts: 69 ■■□□□□□□□□
VMware lab

Hi Guys,

I've been researching lab setups for the VCP-DCV. I think that I am going to go for a physical server , but I'm a bit confused by the setup, will one physical server allow me to carry out all of the functions that I need if it has enough RAM? Going through the threads I see some people talking about buying 2 or 3 physical servers which would be out of my price range, .
There is a shop near me selling the a HP ProLiant DL580 G5 Server with the specs below-
would this be all that I need to get me going, or will I need to buy another server for redundancy etc?

I see a few people buy SSD's especially for their lab, is this only
neccessarry on nested laptop setups, or would I be better getting too? Has anyone used the HP ProLiant for their
, they seem to be a lot cheaper than Dells which I'm wondering why?


Hard Drive Capacity:
8 x 146 GB
4 x Xeon Quad 2.4Ghz 2x3MB L2 (E7330)
56 GB
Power Supplies
3 x Fully Redundant
USB Ports:
Network Card Speed:
2 Gigabit, 1 iLo2
Smart Array P400
RAID Level
1,1+0,5,6 with ADG


  • emerald_octaneemerald_octane Member Posts: 613
    That should be good. You need a box beefy enough to handle 2x nested ESXi installs and an iSCSI instance, but the nested ESXis have to be large enough to atleast hold one VM each, and at a decent speed so you're not sitting around all day.

    Multiple boxes with Multiple switches would allow you to touch the networking more, but it isn't necessary.
  • kj0kj0 Member Posts: 767
    That's an awesome setup if you can get your hands on it. You could potentially nest 3 ESXi 5.5 install under one installed ESXi. Each nested install could have ~16Gb which would allow for a few Vms per host.

    As for SSD for vSAN, if you don't want to buy one, in the 3 nested ESXi installs, you can create a small second HDD (.vmdk) and then using whichever scsi number you called it, add the line to the .vmx SCSI0:1.virtualSSD = 1

    I've got a blog explaining it here. ReadySetVirtual: Create a virtual SSD in VMware Workstation for vSAN and vFRC
    Makes it nice an easy.
    2017 Goals: VCP6-DCV | VCIX
  • EssendonEssendon Member Posts: 4,546 ■■■■■■■■■■
    Actually, that box your talking about, SteveFer, is worthless for ESXi 5.5. It's only good for ESXi 5 (and maybe 5.1). Why, you may ask. This is because nested ESXi 5.5 requires the underlying hardware to have the EPT feature. This is not available in the G5 series of servers, but G6 and above all have this feature. If you are in the USA, the G6 and the G7 are available at great prices, I noticed a G6 with 96GB RAM with some SAS disks for like $700 the other day. You dont need that much RAM really, so tone down the amount of RAM and get some fast disks instead.

    As for the point that emerald_octane made about the networking side of things - nested ESXi is perfect. With nested instances of ESXi, you can provision as many NIC's as a VM can possibly have and you can play with whatever you can think of - redundant NIC's, multi-NIC vMotion, load balancing, multiple vSwitches/vDS's - like I said, whatever!

    Nested ESXi is the way to go for home setup - all in the one box, low power consumption/space/noise - no brainer. Just get a G6 or above and your set.
    NSX, NSX, more NSX..

    Blog >>
  • SteveFerSteveFer Member Posts: 69 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Thanks for the replies guys, Thanks for the heads up on the server , looking at the HCL it seems alot of other G6 servers arent compatible either, so thats beginning to push up costs(I'm not in the USA). I'm considering a laptop now, so downside of a physical lab are that I wont be able to play with NICS, VSwitches, load balancing etc- I'd like to do that! If I was to go with a laptop would a 16GB, i7, SSD laptop be ok? I presume a downside of a laptop is that I wouldn't be able to setup a RAID? I've little experience in servers so I'd like to get as much exposure as possible.

    If I was going with a physical server is there a minimum no of HD's recommended, and a minimum size of each? Would either a 1x quad core, or 2 x dual core processors be ok? Are there any other pros and cons of going for either, I presume mobility and less power is a big plus for laptop setup.

    Thanks again
  • kj0kj0 Member Posts: 767
    No minnimum of HDDs, You can run all your vmdks on a single drive (Will slow it down dramatically). I'm currently running my lab through workstation 10, Each host has several NICs connected. I can run anything that requires a NIC, from vMotions, to iSCSI, etc. My Desktop is only an i7, 16Gb, I am however running my nested NAS and all the VMDKs off 2 x SSDs in Raid 0. However, you should be fine with 1 ssd.
    2017 Goals: VCP6-DCV | VCIX
  • jibbajabbajibbajabba Member Posts: 4,317 ■■■■■■■■□□
    16GB could work, your laptop bottleneck will likely be disk. Make sure it has a fast SSD otherwise you won't have much enjoyment with the setup.

    As for RAM. Let's break it down (btw., I wouldn't worry about Raid for the exam as long as you know what it is).

    You need two hosts, vCenter, storage, AD

    Now it depends what your laptop will run, assuming you have Windows / Linux running and you use VMware Workstation, you will need at least

    2x 4GB of RAM for the ESXi hosts (minimum requirement to even install it)
    + Ram required for virtual machines. You could run base install of Linux at 512MB each so
    1x 1GB of RAM for nested VMs

    Now you need to decide what you do with storage. If your host / laptop runs Linux, you could simply create an NFS / iscsi share and present some storage.

    If your laptop runs Windows, you can download a free target software

    StarWind iSCSI SAN Free Edition | Overview

    Next the actual infrastructure. You need Active Directory. So you need an additional VM. You can run this in bare minimum spec running Windows Core (use 2012 and you can revert from full to core).

    Then of course the obvious - vCenter. You should really use 6-8GB of Ram, but you can get away with less. Then SQL. You need to know how to configure a remote SQL server rather than just using the next next next install (which will install SQL Express locally). If you just read up how to do it without actually doing it but at the same time remember / understand (setup DBs / users / permissions / DSNs), you can skip that and use the local install.

    Whilst slow, you may be able to run the vCenter on 4GB of RAM initially.


    8GB hosts
    1GB VMs
    1-2GB DC (once installed as core)
    4GB vCenter

    That's pretty much 15GB and most of your RAM in your laptop, leaving probably just about enough to run your actual Laptop OS (assuming Windows).

    Can be done, just gonna be slow. You used to be able to install ESXi with 1GB of RAM, and later 2GB, but 4GB nowadays will push a lot of laptop home labs out of reach.

    What I used to do with a laptop, if you are able to dedicate it, is run Windows Server on it. The host OS then can be used as a DC, ISCSI / NFS target and vCenter (*). You cannot officially install vCenter on a DC, nor is the client supported to be installed on the DC, but you can make the client work by installing it through the commandprompt
    VMware-viclient-all-5.5.0-1281650.exe /VSKIP_OS_CHECKS="1"

    So at this stage you just need two VMs for the hosts and a VM for the vCenter. Leaving enough headroom ..

    (*) under Hyper-V for example or additional VM in Workstation ...
    My own knowledge base made public: :p
  • SimonD.SimonD. Member Posts: 111
    I would have a look at something like Home Lab Environment « Everything Virtual which is what I run (x 3) in my home lab, runs 5.5 without issue (including nested). I use a dedicated Synology DS1513+ for iSCSI storage as well although I have been known to use FreeNas, OpenFiler, OpenDSS and Nexenta as storage platforms for home labs.

    If you're getting a laptop I would tend to go for one that's capable of running 32GB of ram (MSI GT70 is what I use for my mobile lab, it's capable of running 32GB ram), SSD will save you time if you're running multiple VM's and you power them all on at the same time (bootstorm) but not absolutely required if it doesn't fit in the budget.
    My Blog -
    vExpert 2012\2013\2014\2015
  • SteveFerSteveFer Member Posts: 69 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Great, thanks for all of the informed and detailed answers, as you can guess I'm a noob and alot of the lab guides I found were a few years old and requirments and costs have changed alot. Last question , I'm going to go with Dell Poweredge 32 gb server, regarding storage would a 128gb SSD and a large (750/1tb) setup do me for the vcp?
  • EssendonEssendon Member Posts: 4,546 ■■■■■■■■■■
    Yeah that should get you by. With regards to the server, remember to ensure it does +EPT otherwise you wont be able to nest ESXi 5.5
    NSX, NSX, more NSX..

    Blog >>
  • peter_mpeter_m Registered Users Posts: 3 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Hi guys,
    I need a home lab, so I can practice for the exam, but my requirements are it needs to be portable and powerful at the same time. I am a student and I really can't buy a server because my accommodation situation is not very stable, so in case of moving I don't want to have a lot of stuff. I was thinking of buying a macbook pro 13" with the following configuration:
    3.0GHz Dual-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz
    16GB 1600MHz DDR3L SDRAM
    512GB PCIe-based Flash Storage

    Unfortunately, more than 16GB of RAM is not supported. Do you think it would be slow if it has PCIe-based ssd storage, which is quite fast? Thanks in advance for your advice.


  • SimonD.SimonD. Member Posts: 111
    Whilst I love the Mac hardware is there any reason you're specifically going for that over a normal laptop? I only ask because I know you can get laptops capable of running 32GB ram and could probably end up cheaper than the Mac.
    My Blog -
    vExpert 2012\2013\2014\2015
  • peter_mpeter_m Registered Users Posts: 3 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I have been using windows machines all my life and would like to try something else to be honest. Some of my friends, who are software developers, say that overall experience is much better than with a windows pc. And I like the quality, the way it's built. I think that after practicing for vcp-dcv exam I will use the laptop primarily for windows server simulations with a few vm's using vmware + some programming. This is why I am not very inclined to buying a big laptop just for the sake of exam preparation. How much do you think I could do with that macbook with that config I was mentioning in regards to the vcp-dcp simulations? Or is the performance not really good enough?
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