What’s in my VCP5 Study lab?

Continuing with my series of articles about VMware exam study I’m going to look at what I built to study.

I’ve spent a while writing about what physical and virtual hardware you can use, your existing PC, retired servers or a white box ESX server. I’ve also written about how to find out what to study.  But so far I haven’t linked the gap between.  This article will talk about the VMs I built for my successful VCP5 study and what I installed in them.  I built this lab on my laptop as mentioned in the existing PC article.

First you need a vCentre VM, here’s mine:

Name MobileVC
Processors 1
Hard Disk 60GB Thin Provisioned
31GB used from host
Network 1 NAT, for Internet access
Network 2 Host Only
Operating System Windows 2008 Server R2
Additional Software vCentre 5.0
SQL Express
StarWind iSCSI Target

I installed Windows and then vCentre, after that I did a full set of patching using my WSUSOffline folder. This tool lets me download a full suite of Microsoft updates & then install them as required.  It’s also very handy to have a copy of the patch set on a USB disk when you visit relatives.

Shared storage is provided by the free edition of the Starwind iSCSI target which has two 16GB disk targets configured, each target is a 16GB .img file on the file system of the vCentre server.   I could have installed Starwind on my laptop but I wanted to have the whole lab encapsulated in the VMs so I could move it to another host.  The 16GB targets allow a couple of nested VMs to be run on each datastore, you should only need three nested guest VMs.

Then you need two ESXi servers:

Name Mobile_ESX1
Processors 2
Hard Disk 6 GB Thin Provisioned
1/5 GB used from host
Network 1 Host Only
Network 2 Host Only
Operating System ESXi 5.0

For VMs to run nested on the ESXi servers I chose Windows XP, installed from an ISO using the vSphere client redirection.  Each XP VM:

Name XP1
Processors 1
Hard Disk 6 GB Thin Provisioned
4.5 GB used from Datastore
Network VM Network
Operating System Windows XP
Additional Software cpubusy.vbs from classfiles.iso

cpubusy.vbs is a useful script for generating CPU load to cause DRS activity, it’s used in the Install Configure Manage course and hopefully there’s no problem with listing it here, here’s the contents:

Dim goal
Dim before
Dim x
Dim y
Dim i
goal = 2181818
Do While True
    before = Timer
    For i = 0 to goal
        x = 0.000001
        y = sin(x)
        y = y + 0.00001
    y = y + 0.01
    WScript.Echo "I did three million sines in " & Int(Timer - before + 0.5) &  " seconds!"

Along with IOMeter I put this on the desktop of my nested guest VMs to allow me to generate CPU and disk loads.

All up the three VMs occupy a little under 40GB of disk space and a little over 7GB of RAM on my laptop, I can test HA and DRS as well as templates and cloning.  Building the entire environment is part of the study, so don’t rush it.

© 2011, Alastair. All rights reserved.

About Alastair

I am a professional geek, working in IT Infrastructure. Mostly I help to communicate and educate around the use of current technology and the direction of future technologies.
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