[VMwareLAB] – 3.the design

Time for the fun stuff 😀

On my previous posts (here and here) I talked about what made me decide to go for a physical server, the parts that I selected considering my budget and the lowest noise possible and today I will talk about the logical design behind the lab.

I will use my physical server mainly to host nested environments as I have plenty of resources for that. I can run multiple versions of the same product, destroy and recreate everything without having the need to reinstall the whole lab.

Without further ado, this is my lab


Now that you’ve seen it let’s talk a little bit about every component and why I do have them.

vCenter Server: vCenter Server Appliance with embedded PSC and it serves the purpose of being able to use instant clones and to clone VMs;

Windows Domain Controller: it serves as DNS/AD/DHCP for the first layer of VMs and for the nested environment;

Logical Router: using pfSense for routing and protection (firewall) the NESTED environment;

Automation VM: Ubuntu with Terraform/Ansible. Will be used for deploying the NESTED Env as well as some Kubernetes clusters;

Network-Attached Storage: running Free-NAS to provide storage for the NESTED Env

NESTED Env: Instant clones from ESXi prebuilt and prepared for it, you can read all about that in VirtuallyGhetto Later I will migrate the deployment from PowerCLI to Terraform.

Now for the network configuration


I know that this looks very simple for the great majority of you guys but if you are just starting and have no bases on how VMware works I hope this helps. With that being said let me explain the setup.

I have two switches right now switch0 and switch1.

vStandard switch 0 is for management, has one uplink, accommodates all the management VMs and it’s connected to the internet.

vStandard switch 1 serves the NESTED Env with no uplink so everything inside it is isolated from the outside world. Besides this, there are two VMs connected to it as well, Windows Domain Controller and Logical Router. The Logical Router, as the name suggests acts as a router between the NESTED Env and everything else if needed (internet, vCenter, network-attached storage…). I connected the Windows Domain Controller directly to this switch because I want for it to serve as a DHCP/DNS server for the NESTED Env which have a different IP range ( from all the other VMs ( In the future, I am thinking about letting the Logical Router do the DHCP part and disconnect the Windows Domain Controller but for now, let’s keep it like this.

And this covers the basic setup of the environment. On my next posts, I’ll show you guys how I installed and configure some of the components.

As always,

Have fun and KISS

[VMwareLAB] – 2.hardware

Now that I made my choice (good or bad only the future will tell) on my previous post and you can read all about it here it’s time to start the hunt for the hardware. At the end of the post, I’ll have the components list and the prices for each.

Because I want to keep the lab build the most budget effective as possible my main “shop” will be eBay 😀

First things first, the motherboard. After talking with some colleagues and doing some research I decided to go for the SUPERMICRO  X9DRi-LN4F+ mainly because it’s dual CPU, can go up to 1.5TB of RAM, has IPMI and supports vShpere 6.7U3. eBay was kind enough to provide me with a seller for this board with two passive coolers.

Now that I have the motherboard selected it’s time for the CPUs. I wanted to get some Intel Xeon E5 V2 Low Voltage version. A quick search on eBay led me to the E5-2650L v2 10Cores 1.7GHz, more than enough for what I need. And because I wanted to fill the sockets I bought two (the seller was selling a pack)

Time for the memory. Again Low Voltage one and preferably one of the ones from the compatibility list. Sk Hynix PC3L-10600R DDR3 1333MHz, ECC, HMT42GR7MFR4A-H9 was the ones I went for mainly because of value. I got 16 modules of 16GB (256GB) at a very nice price, at least I think it was.

So, the main components are already bought, nice job!!! Now the missing parts 🙂

For disks, I selected the WD Blue 3D SSD 500GB mainly because my local shop had a nice sale on them, got 2 (1TB SSD)

Because I’ll install this board on a “normal” ATX case, mainly because of noise reduction I had to select a power supply that would fit this case and because  I didn’t want to get short, I got one Zalman ZM1000-GVM – 1000W and now I realize it’s bit overkill.

And now the thing that took the longest to find, the case. Because this board does not have a regular size EE-ATX (Enhanced Extended ATX) I was not able to find a “normal” desktop case that could hold this board and had without any tweaking. After researching for quite some time I went for the Corsair Carbide Quiet Air 740 High Airflow, it was a low noise, high airflow case and it could hold the EE-ATX, had to do some extra holes but all fits quite nice.

So, to sum it all up here is the list of the components I bought

Motherboard: SUPERMICRO X9DRi-LN4F+ Server Motherboard LGA 2011 +2 HEATSINKS – 243EUROS
CPU: Set of 2x Intel® Xeon® Processor E5-2650L v2 25M Cache, 1.70 GHz – 90EUROS
RAM: 256GB Sk Hynix (16x16GB), 2Rx4 PC3L-10600R DDR3 1333MHz, ECC, HMT42GR7MFR4A-H9 – 223EUROS
Disk: x2 WD Blue 3D SSD NAND 500GB – 2*65,5 = 131EUROS
Power Supply: Zalman ZM1000-GVM – 1000W – 116EUROS
Case: Corsair Carbide Quiet Air 740 High Airflow – 132EUROS

In the end, everything was around 935EUROS

Considering that I have “enough hardware” for the upcoming years the price it’s not that high.

I hope I was able to make some light to some of you.

Next post I’ll show the assembly process and the fist my logical setup of the Lab itself.

As always,

Have fun and KISS