First I'll give a little background on my problem. I got hooked up with a Veteran Affairs program that will provide training towards IT certifications which should lead to employment. They've paid for my classes and exams for certifications. They also got me a part time job under a six month contract doing web development with the expectation that I will continue my self study during that time. I mentioned several times that while the classes and work experience is exceedingly helpful what I really need to improve my chances of passing my tests is access to some hardware for practice. I have computers, lots of them, but none that meet the hardware requirements for VMWare ESXi 5.
I believe I've convinced my counselor of the need for a computer but I'll still need to convince him, and whomever he reports to, that a particular computer is a good fit before they loosen their purse strings to buy it for me. I have a pretty good idea of what I need but I need to convince the people at the VA of this. What I need is a reputable source describing what would make for a good VCP5 lab computer. What makes a reputable source? I'm not sure but I suspect people certified to teach the VCP5 certification class, professors or instructors at a college or trade school that teach computer virtualization, vendors of the VCP5 software and hardware, people experienced in this line of work, or something like that.
Having done proposals like this before (not with the VA but similar situations in work and college) I found that there are a few "rules" to follow. I need to keep it simple for them. I also need to make this a low risk proposal. That means I can't show up with a list of computer parts from six different suppliers that I claim can be assembled into a working VCP 5 lab. They will need to be able to verify quickly that what I show them will be able to do what I claim it can do.
What I also want to avoid is going too far out of what is supported by the suppliers. One thing is that while VMWare does not give fully explicit support to running ESXi inside a virtual environment there is an understanding that this is common practice and there is more than an implicit support with this by there being an ESXi option in the setup menus on their desktop virtualization products. Another example is that there are many computers out there that will support more memory than what the vendor claims. If I say want to put 16GB of RAM in a computer that the vendor claims only supports 8GB then that creates a risk and complexity. I can show that such a configuration would work but I expect such a proposal to be denied because of that risk and complexity.
Another "rule" I figured out is that I need to provide them with a choice. I can't just go there with a proposal listing a single computer and expect them to accept that. They are likely going to want to see a handful of choices with a short list of pros and cons for each. Too many choices will overwhelm them and get me denied, too few and they'll tell me I need to do more research.
To simplify my proposal I'm thinking of a "grid" of platforms and price points. There's laptop, desktop, and "rack" or group of computers for platforms. For price points I'm thinking $1000+, $2000+, and $3000+. My research tells me that a good starting point for a lab is a computer with an Intel i7 processor, 16GB RAM, and SSD. I'll vary a bit up or down around this for the different places on my grid but that is where I'm leaning. My counselor seems to like the idea of a laptop but I'm not so sure. I'm not sure how much they will be willing to spend but a laptop capable of running a VCP5 lab is probably going to be pricey. They might be willing to buy a $4000 laptop for me but I'll provide other options in case they aren't.
There's all kinds of web pages showing success in building VCP5 labs. Where I need help is in sorting through all these to find the one's written nicely and by people the counselors at the VA would consider a reputable source. These counselors are intelligent but not computer savvy. They got masters degrees and many years of work experience but they were HR managers, military officers, paralegals, and similar. They might not know anything about the software I'm trying to run but I suspect their BS detectors are finely tuned.
I want to avoid discussing the specific requirements too much, there's plenty of threads on that already but I'm sure we'll have to spend some time on that. I went through some of that above since I know it's quite possible to create a VCP5 lab computer real cheap with pieces and parts that are surplus, discount, used, and so on when combined with some elbow grease but I don't believe that will go over real well. I really want to focus on making my argument with citations from people readily recognized as knowledgeable on the subject for a solution that is simple, low risk, and cost effective.