Home Lab Set-Up

My home lab is set up, and ready to provide the hands-on needed for vSphere skills enhancement.  It took a little while and a lot of fiddling to get it working exactly as I wanted and especially so to activate the nested ESXi 64bit guest support.  Although the Xeon E5540 CPU’s support VT-x/EPT, it is necessary to customise the virtual machine settings of the nested ESXi hosts to fully support it.  This creates a chicken/egg situation because with vSphere 5.5 you can only make the final change using the Web Client, which needs vCenter installed, which needs either a completely separate physical machine to run on, or has to be hosted on the main physical ESXi installation.

Having got all the key VM’s needed, FreeNAS, Windows Server 2008 (DNS/AD), Windows Server 2008 (vCenter/SQL Express), running on the primary host, the need for 64bit guest VM’s within the nested environment is not a requirement because 32bit will be enough for the purpose of vSphere study.  However, the challenge was there for me and if it can be done, I want to prove it for myself and get it working in my own lab!

So, I have the above VM’s running on the primary ESXi host and 3x nested ESXi host VM’s.  I have a QNAP offering NAS based NFS storage and a second NAS which is used to provide a VMDK to the FreeNAS VM which is then presented to the nested ESXi hosts as an iSCSI LUN.  The local 683Gb RAID5 is presenting VMDK’s to the nested ESXi hosts to appear as local storage and I’ve built 2x VMDK’s per host; 1x 20Gb & 1x 180Gb.  The 20Gb will be faked to represent an SSD drive and then the two can be utilised to allow VSAN support for all three nested ESXi hosts.  This gives me a chance to play with VSAN whilst providing the three main storage options to my lab, iSCSI SAN, NFS and local.  It’s a bit slow but it’s just for training!

On the nested ESXi hosts themselves I think I’ll only need Windows 7 guests to provide the material for study and I’ve created templates or exported as OVA’s a copy of the ESXi host, Server 2008 and Windows 7 VM’s.  I’m trying to put a Visio diagram together to show how things are set up but can never get it right without making look both rubbish and complicated.

Sites used to assist me:

http://www.v-front.de/2014/01/how-to-provision-nested-esxi-hosts-on.html – by Andreas Peetz

http://www.virtuallyghetto.com/2012/08/how-to-enable-nested-esxi-other.html – by William Lam

https://communities.vmware.com/docs/DOC-8970 – from VMware communities

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