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vSphere'in on a budget

vSphere'in on a budget - A Makeshift vSphere Lab

the title is supposed to be like the saying "ballin' on a budget", so forgive me on my bad sense of humor.

I now work at a very small shop and resources are hard to come by for testing. I wanted to test vSphere, but I don't have multiple servers for testing. After reading many blogs of how others were able to virtualize ESX4 within itself, it creates the perfect scenario for testing.

In this lab I have only 1 HP GL D380. It has Dual Quad Core E5404, 16GB of RAM, 2 physical NICS, and 500GB of space. This server is considered the DR server. We use it to keep virtuaized images of physical servers of-site until a full blown VMware environment can be put in place. Currently, ESXi 4 free version is installed on top of the bare metal, and here is how I installed the vSphere environment on top of ESXi 4 free.

Eric Gray gives an easy to follow step-by-step guide on how to virtualize ESX4 within itself. Follow his guide to install the ESX servers.

Logging into ESXi4 Free


Create some ESX servers (I created 3, but 2 is enough to do all the testing you could want). Since this picture I have upgraded the RAM to 5GB and vCPU to 4. You may notice that I put 6 virtual NICS on this host when I only have 2 physical NICS. I did this so I could create different port groups on virtual switches to test VMotion, FT, etc.


This is what the root host is currently. 3 ESX Servers, a vSphere vCenter, and a Virtual SAN that will function as central storage.


If you want to play with VMotion, all 3 hosts are going to need access to centralized storage. If you have a NAS or SAN on your network, then you're golden. If you're like me, you are going to have to think of something better. This server has a total of 500GB of space. I used Starwinds free iSCSI program to create a virtual server that would function as a virtual SAN, giving all three hosts access to it. Hence, the VM called VirtualSAN. Creating a new VM on ESXi4 w/ 350GB of space gives plenty of room for testing.

I've gone through all the regular steps of setting up vCenter. My test environment is currently running on Windows Server 2008 R2 for vCenter and I would suggest to NOT use it. Stick with 2003 because VMware isn't ready for 2008 R2. The VI Client won't launch on on 2008 R2.



Here is a look at the vCenter server. All 3 hosts have been added. Before continuing to create virtual machines, create virtual distributed switches for VMotion, Network Access, FT, Testing, etc.



Here is a look at vCenter after everything has been setup.


Even a shot of VMotion between 2 virtualized hosts


It's pretty cool to be able to evaluate this incredible piece of software without needing a bunch of hardware. 

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