VCAP-DCD/DCA Home Lab – What should it look like?

I thought I’d create some discussion around what others thought a VMware home lab should consist of. When I studied for my VCP5 exam I had the following:

– Main desktop pc with Workstation 8, 8-core CPU with 16GB RAM, 1TB disk drive

– Domain controller VM running 2k8R2, with DNS and DHCP roles. Also had the Solarwinds free FTP server for Autodeploy. This VM had 1 vCPU, 2GB vRAM and 20GB disk. With this it ran ok, didn’t need to be any bigger.

– vCenter Server Appliance with 2vCPU, 4GB vRAM and default disk sizes. I found with any less RAM I had issues with the database and Autodeploy wouldn’t start properly.

– 3 x ESXi 5 VM’s, each with 2vCPU, 3GB vRAM and 10GB disk. This was enough to test building ESXi hosts with Autodeploy, attach them to vCenter and manage them. I was able to test HA and vMotion among other features. The only nested VM I used was the Nostalgia OVA, I was able to play Prince of Persia during a vMotion, cool!

This pretty much summed up my lab during the study. However, now that I’m studying for the VCAP exams I’m trying to work out the best use of my limited host resources (I have upgraded my RAM to 32GB though).

The question is, what VM’s are the most appropriate and how many? At the moment I only have a Domain Controller, vCenter (full install with UM, etc) and four ESXi guests (three ESXi 5 and one ESXi 4 – I want to test upgrading to 5 using Update Manager).

I thought I’d stand up some VM’s to play with vShield Zones, View, SRM, etc but there are so many products to choose from. Obviously these all won’t be covered by the VCAP exams but I still see benefit in being familiar with them.

What do others out there think? What has worked well in your experience? Bear in mind that I only have 32GB of RAM 🙂

I look forward to hearing your ideas!


VMware VCAP v5

It’s been a long time since my first post and I thought I’d start to share my thoughts on my studies for the VMware VCAP exams. I passed my VCP5 back in December last year which was really good. My study gave me an insight into the new features vSphere 5 has to offer.

Now I have started to focus on the next stage of my development in my ultimate goal of achieving VCDX 🙂

I’ve thought a lot about whether I should start studying for the DCA or DCD exam over the last few months and have struggled to make my mind up! After much thought and some discussion with a friend of mine I decided to go with the DCD as my first milestone. Since I am working towards the v5 exams it does make things a little harder since there isn’t a lot of information about them yet. I have heard a few things about the recent beta of the DCD but I figure I’ll keep going regardless.

I have built a home lab mostly consisting of a desktop pc running an AMD FX 8 core cpu (stop laughing! I like AMD!) and just today received my 32GB of DDR3, yay! With an OCZ ssd and some larger spindle drives I have a pretty good setup whereby I can virtualise MOST of what I need. I figure over time I might need to up the RAM to 64GB, etc but its a good start.

I’ve built some template 2k8R2 VM’s using Sammy Bogaert’s great guide to building a lab using workstation ( I’ll eventually configure a vCenter server along with Auto Deploy and Update Manager, then move onto deploying two or three virtual ESXi guests. I’m also keen to have a real play with View as I also have some potential applications for this within my work environment so I’ll be exploring these.

So, stay tuned and hopefully I’ll keep this ball rolling and post some more soon around my lab and any interesting things I find 🙂