VMware Lab Update – All Systems Go!!

After a long delay I have finally made some progress on my VMware lab.  I have successfully installed ESXi 4.1 on both servers, as well as vCenter Server, VMware Site Recovery Manager and many other goodies!  The Synology DS1010+ has been great.  I use it to share out a Z: partition to most of my servers and also have it running FTP.  I created a 100GB iSCSI LUN for my ISO’s and source files and a 2TB iSCSI LUN for my Virtual Machines.  I actually created the original iSCSI LUN as 1TB, but growing it with Synology and vCenter Server was literally just a few clicks.  I even grew the vmdk’s for my vCenter Servers from 40GB to 80GB and then “extended” the file systems in Windows 2008 with just a few simple clicks and no wizardry!

Just about all my VM’s are Thin Provisioned.  I am using Thin Provisioning on my Synology as well as on the VM’s as well.  I can say it takes considerable amount of time to stand up a lab even as small as this one.  Spinning disks, doing Windows updates, initial configurations, took a lot of time.  In the process I have continued to learn so much about Windows, Active Directory, SQL, VMware, EMC, NetApp………I can definitely say the lab is fulfilling its purpose!  Here is a highlight of what I have cooking on the lab right now:

Virtual Machines

You can see many of the usual suspects: Celerra VSA’s (running storage on SSD!), NetApp VSA’s, a couple of Domain Controllers.  My DC’s are Windows 2003 Enterprise 64-bit.  My VCenter Servers are Windows 2008 Enterprise 64-bit, and My SRM Servers are Windows 2008 Enterprise 64-bit running SQL Server 2008 Enterprise 64-bit.  You can also see that I installed a vMA which is great for using with ESXi.  One thing I dislike about vMA is you have to type out the vCenter server and the ESX host in almost every command.  Then you have to authenticate.  What would be nice, is that if you could authenticate to the vCenter, and then change context to like an ESX host, and then just issue commands.  A contextual way of managing, almost how it is done on Cisco ASA’s.

Being a voice guy I also stood up a CUCM 7.1.3 and a Unity Connection 7.1.3.  I did 7.x on purpose, so that I could practice doing the upgrade to 8.x  Definitely learned some lessons there about the importance of having good NTP servers.  When you add a subscriber, CUCM is basically doing database replication, as well as numerous security credential checks.  I learned my lesson with Digital Certificates and the importance of time sources back in studying for my CCIE Storage.  CUCM is very picky, and just as the documentation says you should not slave NTP off the ESX host!!!  Instead its much better to point all UC VM’s to a central time server that slaves off say time.nist.gov, or have them all directly point to time.nist.gov.

Also you will see “Titanium 5.1(2)”.  Yes this is the N7K Simulator.  It took me a long time to get this, and please don’t ask for it as I can’t give it out, but it’s definitely useful to have (even when you have multiple Nexus 7000’s at your disposal as I do).  I have not yet truly fired it up and done some connectivity tests, but I did boot it and already find out some of it’s peculiarities.

Currently I am working my way through Nicholas Weaver’s UBER SRM Video Guide, which is way cool.  He put a lot of work into both the guides and the video.  He has moved so fast with the development of the VSA you have to be careful about which documentation you’re reading because much of it is outdated but you can still learn a lot from it.  I should have the complete SRM lab completed in a few days (If I can get the time).

The only annoyance in my lab so far is an error I get on my ESXi hosts because of the fans.  I get a “Host hardware fan status” error event due to one of the fan ports not being used on the Supermicro X8SIL motherboard.  This is a known issue and really doesn’t seem to have any big problem other than being annoying.  Other’s on the net have talked about how to fix this but I am not a big fan of either solution so will just wait for a BIOS fix.  The reality is, even though the Supermicro X8SIL-F is not on the HCL, it is a fantastic motherboard, with super features, and I still can’t think of a better motherboard to use.  Incidently, I had never heard of the HP Proliant Microservers, but now that I have built my lab with Lian Li V352B, they look awfully similar!  I am sure mine is more powerful and a lot cheaper 🙂

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