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    #26
    Quote Originally Posted by jibbajabba View Post
    The client, maybe, but not the server, that requires 64 Bit and enough oompf for SQL Express

    VMware KB: Minimum system requirements for installing vCenter Server

    With v4 you can get away with 32 Bit, but v5 requires 64 ..
    From that link...

    The vCenter Server 5.0 system can be a physical machine or virtual machine.
    If it can be a virtual machine then I should be good with running it on the same computer as ESXi. Or, am I assume too much? This could be a problem, like a $600 problem.
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    #27
    Quote Originally Posted by jibbajabba View Post
    The client, maybe, but not the server, that requires 64 Bit and enough oompf for SQL Express

    VMware KB: Minimum system requirements for installing vCenter Server

    With v4 you can get away with 32 Bit, but v5 requires 64 ..
    Forgetting about the vCenter 5 Linux appliance, are we?
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    #28
    Quote Originally Posted by MacGuffin View Post

    If it can be a virtual machine then I should be good with running it on the same computer as ESXi. Or, am I assume too much? This could be a problem, like a $600 problem.
    You can certainly run vCenter as a VM, I do it myself since it's just a lab. If you're only goint to run ESXi on a single box, then vCenter is overkill, you can save yourself the effort and just connect to the ESXi host directly to manage it. If you are going to deploy more than one host with ESXi though, you will want vCenter.

    As an aside, vCenter 4.1 also requires 64 bit windows, vCenter 4 can run on either 32 bit or 64 bit. vCenter 5 has a Linux appliance available that you can deploy as a VM if you don't want to deal with Windows licensing or whatever. I personally have vCenter installed on 2008R2 x64 because I figured I might as well use my TechNet licenses for something
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    #29
    Quote Originally Posted by MentholMoose View Post
    Besides those possibilities, another is price. Currently there is a huge jump between 256 GB and 512 GB SSDs, so two 256 GB SSDs should be significantly cheaper than one 512 GB SSD. Now is a great time to buy a 256 GB SSD as there has been many deals lately. I've seen 256GB Crucial M4 and Samsung 830 SSDs (both are well regarded) going for $200 or less (I couldn't resist picking one up).
    Agreed. I saw that price difference when playing with the configurations on the computers I was considering. Most of the systems don't offer dual SSD but do have an option for one SSD and one HD. I can order them that way and move the drives around as needed to optimize performance.


    Quote Originally Posted by MentholMoose View Post
    Performance of what? The disk the hypervisor runs from does not need to be fast, unless you will be rebooting it constantly and really need fast boot times. And booting ESXi from a USB stick is not all that slow anyway. If you mean performance of VMs running on a USB stick, ESXi won't let you do this, and if there is some hack to allow it I assume performance would be poor. But like I said, labbing with VMs on a local datastore is not useful anyway.
    There's boot times, just like you said. I was assuming there would be some swapping to the drive. Maybe swapping does not happen often enough to matter or its sent off to a file share. Thinking about it more I believe you. The Flash drive is likely used almost like a read only drive any way. No need to be concerned with

    Quote Originally Posted by MentholMoose View Post
    I'd aim a bit higher. 2 GB RAM is just too low to be useful, and 4 GB is better but still limiting. I recommend at least 8 GB RAM. Have you checked out Dell Outlet? Refurb Dell R210 II servers with specs like that (Core i3, 2 GB RAM, 500 GB SATA disk drive) are under $700, and a guaranteed compatible 8 GB RAM kit is $85 from Crucial. The R210 II is a nice server (I have access to some at work) and on the VMware HCL.
    Really? 8GB for a computer with ESXi on the metal running two, three, maybe four VMS at a time, all of them not really doing anything. I believe I was looking at that very same computer or something very similar. I was also looking at another brand that was a bit more decked out for about $1200. Three of the low end systems or two of the higher ones means a grand total of about $2500 which is about where I started in my previous estimate. The additions of the networking stuff ti hook it together adds to the cost, other things like displays and keyboards means a total system cost of about $3000. Even if I need to add to this cost estimate for more RAM then I should be able to stay under budget,

    Ok, Ill have to look at this tomorrow. I took my sleeping pils and weird stuff is going now. The couch couch cushions
    are giving me a mean look. The fan keeps pacing back and forth across the room, making me nervous. I think the DVD player wants to play nintendo, or maybe eat the controllers. I think it's time to lie down now that the kleenex bog is waving good doggy at me.
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  6. Not IT n00b dave330i's Avatar
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    #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Forsaken_GA View Post
    You can certainly run vCenter as a VM, I do it myself since it's just a lab. If you're only goint to run ESXi on a single box, then vCenter is overkill, you can save yourself the effort and just connect to the ESXi host directly to manage it. If you are going to deploy more than one host with ESXi though, you will want vCenter.
    If OP is planning on getting VCP, he'll need to setup a vCenter to practice.
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    #31
    Quote Originally Posted by dave330i View Post
    If OP is planning on getting VCP, he'll need to setup a vCenter to practice.
    Well certainly, but VCP was not a stated aim of the OP, just learning VMWare. I setup my VMWare cluster without any intention of ever pursuing a VCP, with the trends toward virtualization, I figured that as a network engineer, it would be a good idea to get some experience with the implementation so I had a clue on the network aspects of running VMWare. I now use VMWare for many other things, as I basically have a full enterprise server infrastructure supported on my VMWare cluster, but I still have no intention of going to a VCP hehe
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  8. Not IT n00b dave330i's Avatar
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    #32
    Quote Originally Posted by Forsaken_GA View Post
    Well certainly, but VCP was not a stated aim of the OP, just learning VMWare. I setup my VMWare cluster without any intention of ever pursuing a VCP, with the trends toward virtualization, I figured that as a network engineer, it would be a good idea to get some experience with the implementation so I had a clue on the network aspects of running VMWare. I now use VMWare for many other things, as I basically have a full enterprise server infrastructure supported on my VMWare cluster, but I still have no intention of going to a VCP hehe
    My mistake. I got my threads confused.
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    #33
    If I were starting over myself, I would just get something like a ReadyNAS for $300 and pick up an SSD or to to install in that. Then have a beefy (at least i5 Quad Core, at least 16GB RAM) desktop with an extra NIC dedicated to connecting to NAS, and run the nested ESXi in VMware Workstation solution. I can't think of a logical reason to require two physical boxes dedicated to running ESXi that is worth the extra cost to address, unless you're planning to use VMware to do really heavy labbing of other solutions like a full blown AD/Exchange environment (which in reality, the single workstation is probably still good enough).
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    #34
    Quote Originally Posted by dave330i View Post
    If OP is planning on getting VCP, he'll need to setup a vCenter to practice.
    It looks like the OP was not going for VCP and it looks like he made up his mind in post #8. I hijacked the thread by stating a similar dilemma with the goal of getting VCP5 certified.

    Quote Originally Posted by dave330i View Post
    My mistake. I got my threads confused.
    I don't believe you got your threads confused it's just that there are two similar conversations going on here in parallel.

    Quote Originally Posted by blargoe View Post
    If I were starting over myself, I would just get something like a ReadyNAS for $300 and pick up an SSD or to to install in that. Then have a beefy (at least i5 Quad Core, at least 16GB RAM) desktop with an extra NIC dedicated to connecting to NAS, and run the nested ESXi in VMware Workstation solution. I can't think of a logical reason to require two physical boxes dedicated to running ESXi that is worth the extra cost to address, unless you're planning to use VMware to do really heavy labbing of other solutions like a full blown AD/Exchange environment (which in reality, the single workstation is probably still good enough).
    That sounds like a compromise solution. Using a dedicated file server box to reduce load on the computer hosting the nested ESXi VMs. I'm just not sure how your math works out to be a cost saver. The NAS costs $300, I assume that given a 240GB SSD that the drive would cost about the same. For that $600 a person could also put that money towards an upgrade on the RAM, processor, and drive instead. That also means one less box on (or under) the desk. There's some time and effort involved in setting up a file server VM but that should only need to be done once.

    I suppose the NAS would be nice for other purposes outside of the VCP lab, have it a dual use investment. If that is the case then I can see your point. A quick look at a sample configuration of a computer I could take that $600 and put it towards moving up from an i5 to an i7, and upgrade the HD to SSD, and perhaps have a little left over for a RAM upgrade, instead of buying a separate box. I didn't spend much time looking at what an extra gigabit NIC would cost but I've seen them for less than $50 so I consider that a cost down in the noise level.

    I won't go into my research on what I found since I believe mayhem87 did a good job of making my point with his spec list. If the VMs are going to be spread over two or more machines then the memory requirements, and therefore cost, can be reduced on the i5 machines he laid out. Add in other costs like drives, a display, keyboard, and so on and the price difference starts to fade even more. Then add in the non-monetary benefit of having a better representation of a real world environment by having separate boxes, each with their assigned role, then the extra expense also has extra value.


    A side note here:
    I found it odd that so many people were reading and responding to this thread in what I would consider the middle of the night. I work part time and had no place I needed to be in the morning so I put up with my insomnia until about 4:00 AM before feeling I needed a sleeping pill so I could function the next day. I don't like to take the medicine because of the likelihood for some trippy side effects as evidenced in the description of what I was seeing in my last post.

    To those of you that were posting at around 2:00 AM, were you also having trouble sleeping? Is staying up that late normal for you? Do you work a night shift? Are you in some place where that was day time for you? I appreciated the quick replies, I just concerned that so many people were up as late as I was. Do certifications cause sleepless nights? Do cubicle sheep dream of electric Androids?
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  11. VCDX in 2017 Essendon's Avatar
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    #35
    @MacGuffin, have you set the time zone right for your TE login. If you havent I think it defaults to a US/Dutch time.
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  12. Senior Member MentholMoose's Avatar
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    #36
    Quote Originally Posted by MacGuffin View Post
    Really? 8GB for a computer with ESXi on the metal running two, three, maybe four VMS at a time, all of them not really doing anything.
    I suggest 8 GB RAM since it gives you breathing room for a relatively low cost. The machines I used for the VCP 4 and 5 had 8 GB RAM and I found it adequate. 4 GB RAM would be the bare minimum. Any less will be too limiting since you might end up needing VMs with a decent amount of RAM, and some VMs might consume a fair amount of resources. For example, the vCenter appliance (on the VCP blueprint) has a official requirement of 4 GB. You can get by with less, but not by much. Also, to lab VDR (again, on the VCP blueprint) you will need a VDR appliance, which IIRC uses 2 GB RAM and won't be idle. You also might want to run vCenter as a VM (e.g. to avoid having to buy a physical 64-bit server for it, and because it's on the VCP blueprint), so that will need some resources (4 GB RAM is the official requirement, though a little less will still work). Yet another thing you might need to lab would be running vCenter with a dedicated MS SQL server (e.g. to get familiar with setting up DSNs), so that would mean two fairly beefy VMs.
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    #37
    Quote Originally Posted by MentholMoose View Post
    If you are going with a physical lab, the ESXi machines don't necessarily even need hard drives. There's not much need to lab with local datastores, and you can install ESXi on a USB stick. Many newer servers include internal USB ports for this purpose. You can then put additional, bigger, and/or faster/SSD drives in your SAN/NAS machine to store VMs.
    +1 to this, and if you're feeling REALLY adventurous, you could take a stab at getting auto deploy running, though that will require at least one physical box running vCenter/DHCP/TFTP and the necessary infrastructure services.
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    #38
    Quote Originally Posted by Forsaken_GA View Post
    You can certainly run vCenter as a VM, I do it myself since it's just a lab. If you're only goint to run ESXi on a single box, then vCenter is overkill, you can save yourself the effort and just connect to the ESXi host directly to manage it. If you are going to deploy more than one host with ESXi though, you will want vCenter.
    Actually, one REALLY useful thing you can do with vCenter that you can't on standalone, unmanaged host is setup and deploy from templates. Granted, you can always export a VM as an OVF/OVA and re-import it on a standalone, but that's no where near as quick when you want to spin up multiple similar VMs.
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    #39
    You could even save more money / oompf by installing vCenter on another workstation you got around or laptop. In another area we have a single shuttle PC which runs nested ESXi for presentation purposes (nothing more). The laptop runs Windows 7 and the vCenter (Click here) and a single low performance CentOS VM presenting NFS storage. The PC, which is some shuttle box with 8GB of Ram, 64GB SSD and <insert random cheap CPU here), runs two ESXi VMs which are hooked up to the laptop via vCenter and NFS .. This is used to just demonstrate standard vSphere functions obviously and is hardly a proper lab, but nonetheless it impresses when you walk in with next to no kit but show / present a fully flegded vSphere cluster
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    #40
    Quote Originally Posted by Essendon View Post
    @MacGuffin, have you set the time zone right for your TE login. If you havent I think it defaults to a US/Dutch time.
    I have my time zone set correctly. It's just that for an hour or two last night I had people posting replies while I was authoring my own. For a while it was more like having a chat session than posting to a web forum so I knew these people were awake the same time I was. Looking back at the locations where people were posting from I saw UK and Australia so that explains things a bit. Still there were others in the USA, time zones no more than two hours from my own, that were still posting in the middle of the night.

    Quote Originally Posted by MentholMoose View Post
    I suggest 8 GB RAM since it gives you breathing room for a relatively low cost.
    ...
    Fair enough. The cost of 4GB more is minimal enough to not argue a whole lot over. Sometimes being pennywise is pound foolish, it's likely to be cheaper in the long run to just get the bigger memory chips up front in this case.

    Quote Originally Posted by jibbajabba View Post
    You could even save more money / oompf by installing vCenter on another workstation you got around or laptop.
    ...
    What are the system requirements for vCenter again? I see that it takes dual 64 bit cores and 4GB RAM. I doubt I have anything around here that will work. I suppose I could use my MacBook for that but I kind of need that for my e-mail, web surfing, and other stuff. It likely doesn't have enough horsepower to run both my MacOSX system and a vCenter VM.

    I had another reminder of the sad state of my computer hardware today. I found two external USB optical drives dead today. Well, one was probably dead for a while, I think I killed the other. Either way they are both on the pile to go to the recycling center and I'm down to only one known good DVD burner in the house. I tossed a USB mouse on the pile too, it was causing me issues for weeks and I finally got fed up with it. I thought that I had no more spare USB mice but I did find two on the shelf, if I didn't find those I'd be using a PS/2 mouse with a USB adapter right now. One of the two is a typical scroll wheel mouse, the other a single button style from an iMac that had died years ago.

    Anyway, point is that I'm basically starting over here. All the hardware I have now is pretty old since I really had no need to get new hardware for years. I got a Core2 Duo MacBook Pro and a Dell server with a dual core Celeron or some other crap. Everything else is either 32-bits or broken.

    I'm seeing the benefits in spreading the load over two or more computers but unless there is a significant dollar savings then I think I'll go with a single computer solution. I'm thinking I'll take this as an opportunity to get a new laptop. I might still be able to put some servers on the other computers I have to spread the load out but I'm not counting on that possibility.
    Last edited by MacGuffin; 06-15-2012 at 06:10 AM.
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    #41
    dont work the night shift i just cant sleep haha
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    #42
    Well another option I got is one HP Microserver with 16GB - CPU is tiny but for testing it is fine ... runs a vCenter VM on 2008R2 with installed iSCSI target, two nested ESXi hosts and two VMs, in this case one CentOS and one 2008R2 VM - purrs along nicely .. costs next to nothing (in the UK with cashback anyway), doesn't consume the world in electricity and is small.

    I however chucked in a proper raid card and run SAS drives, but again - as a lab, local disks / SSDs would do ..
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    #43
    Quote Originally Posted by MacGuffin View Post
    What are the system requirements for vCenter again? I see that it takes dual 64 bit cores and 4GB RAM. I doubt I have anything around here that will work. I suppose I could use my MacBook for that but I kind of need that for my e-mail, web surfing, and other stuff. It likely doesn't have enough horsepower to run both my MacOSX system and a vCenter VM.
    Well you don't have to have two cores dedicated to vCenter for it to run properly, just having access to two cores is enough. For a lab, really one will work fine. I have a production vCenter managing 13 hosts and 120 VM's, including a full install of SQL Server on a VM with 2 vCPUs and no reservations, works just fine. I really doubt you'll have issues sharing a couple of cores with a vCenter VM.
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    #44
    In a pinch you could use your old hardware to create networked storage (iSCSI or NFS), as long as your drives aren't dog slow. You don't need x64 or a bunch of memory to make that work.
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    #45
    Quote Originally Posted by jibbajabba View Post
    Well another option I got is one HP Microserver with 16GB - CPU is tiny but for testing it is fine ...
    What kind of processor? It seems to me that every time someone suggests a computer to use as a lab-in-a-box it's with an Intel i7 processor but if it's an ESXi on the metal test lab the suggestion is to use an Intel i5. Is this only because of a cost/benefit calculation or is there something about the i5 that makes nested VMs impossible?

    Quote Originally Posted by blargoe View Post
    Well you don't have to have two cores dedicated to vCenter for it to run properly, just having access to two cores is enough. For a lab, really one will work fine. I have a production vCenter managing 13 hosts and 120 VM's, including a full install of SQL Server on a VM with 2 vCPUs and no reservations, works just fine. I really doubt you'll have issues sharing a couple of cores with a vCenter VM.
    My MacBook seems to have difficulty as it is with one operating system. It's been having issues, it's got only 4GB RAM, RAM maxes out at 6GB, and RAM is expensive for it. I think I'll experiment with a vCenter VM but I can already suspect what will happen.

    Quote Originally Posted by blargoe View Post
    In a pinch you could use your old hardware to create networked storage (iSCSI or NFS), as long as your drives aren't dog slow. You don't need x64 or a bunch of memory to make that work.
    That was the plan all along. Considering recent events I'm not so confident in how long my existing computers will last. I'm choosing my hardware so that I could create a working VCP5 lab without them. I did some experimentation with running iSCSI and NFS servers on my computers before and I've had some issues. I'm not sure on which side of the keyboard the issues lie but new hardware would remove one of those factors.
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    #46
    Here's another newbie question. This should work but for some reason I have doubts. If I run a server OS on the hardware (Mac OS X Lion Server or Windows 2008R2 Server for example) and run ESXi instances inside a VMWare desktop product (Player, Workstation, Fusion) then I should be able to use the file server feature of the host OS to be the file server for the virtualized ESXi systems, correct?

    I imagine many people create a VCP5 lab by using VMWare Player/Workstation/Fusion to create three VMs, two ESXi VMs and a file server VM. Am I mistaken by this assumption? I'm just thinking that by having the host OS act as file server then I'd be saving on CPU needs, RAM, and drive IO.

    What I'm thinking right now is to get a MacBook Pro with Retina Display. It would have an i7 CPU, 16GB RAM, and a SSD. Depending on the speed of the CPU and the size of the SSD it'd cost between $2400 and $4000, and I'm leaning toward the lower number. Mac OS X Server and VMWare Fusion would add $100 to that. Other options like an external USB DVD drive, gigabit ethernet adapter, and maybe some other stuff would add another $100 or so.

    There's cheaper laptops out there for sure but I don't recall seeing one that is both cheaper and supports 16GB RAM. If I get a new MacBook then I can retire the one I'm using now from my everyday computing and have the one laptop be both my everyday workhorse and VCP5 lab-in-a-box.

    Any comments?
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    #47
    That would be what I did one of the examples I posted ... Laptop with 2008R2 running, installed ISCSI Targed (free) and vCenter installed and two VMs acting as hosts - best way to save RAM / CPU .. Or install NFS on your native MAC app and then use Fusion for the two ESXi hosts, but you still need a vCenter so you'd need an additional VM with that ..
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    #48
    I didn't think VMware workstation would install on a "Server" host OS...? Do I remember that incorrectly?
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    #49
    Quote Originally Posted by blargoe View Post
    I didn't think VMware workstation would install on a "Server" host OS...? Do I remember that incorrectly?
    You recall incorrectly.

    Here's a link to the system requirements for VMWare Fusion.

    A link to the system requirements for VMWare Workstation.

    Both list server operating systems. I didn't think that it mattered on whether it was a server or client OS but your comment made me go double check.


    Quote Originally Posted by jibbajabba View Post
    ... but you still need a vCenter so you'd need an additional VM with that.
    Yep, I forgot about that detail. As you point out I'd have to run a 64-bit Windows OS as the host to avoid the RAM/CPU/storage hit of another VM. Just thinking out loud here but I'd think that running the file server on the host OS would probably still save me some RAM and CPU. Another thinking out loud idea is to run my everyday MacOSX programs inside a VM on a Windows OS host. That way I can suspend my MacOSX session when I want the CPU and RAM for my VCP5 labs. I'd still have to get the MacBook Pro for this to work and there would be the added cost of a Windows license if I wanted to avoid the evaluation period time bomb.

    I could just forget about running MacOSX on the laptop but then that would mean I'd have to invest in replacing my software with Windows equivalents or keeping my old laptop running for a bit longer. Certainly doable but not very appealing.

    If I'm going to consider replacing my current laptop with one that is not made by Apple I'd have to find one that is as good or better for the same price or less. Does such an animal exist? I looked, admittedly not very hard, and came up empty. I did find a lot of people claim Apple made the best laptops, even for running Windows. Linux users like Apple laptops too.

    Everyone has been very helpful and I really appreciate that. It will be a couple weeks before I make up my mind so I'm open to more comments and suggestions.
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  26. Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    MCSA Win7, MCSA 2003 & 2008, MCS, CCNA, VCP5
    #50
    We have vCenter Server in our environment running as a virtual machine. It has just two virtual CPUs and 4 GB of RAM. The CPU usage is less than 5% most of the time.
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