Does it even make sense to try and build a scaled down version of vsphere, Vcenter, and Esxi host from home.

good morning Experts,

Does it even make sense to try and build a scale of the vmware family of products ( Vshpere, Vcenter, ESXI, etc..) at home? I have been looking at inexpensive ways just to get a proof of concept, but the money needed for home use is still  out of my price range. Please look at the link that I am providing to see if the prices and specs are even realistic for home use. Give me your honest opinion , because I am embarking on a quest to learn and master VMware. I have all of the necessary CBT's  (paid for of course) that give me step by step implemenation, but I want to get my hands dirty, not just in a lab environment , but in my own home. Here is the link: http://thehomeserverblog.com/esxi-lab-specs/
BLACK THANOSAsked:
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
It would not be food for production use, even in a home. It simulates a lab well enough for training purposes, but is too fragile and too painful to manage for any type of real workload.
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BLACK THANOSAuthor Commented:
I don't want or expect any real world scenarios. I just want to know if the pain points will be too much if I don't achieve the minimum specs in the link I provided. Did you even look at it?? Please give me a little more in dept advice once you have perused the link.
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BLACK THANOSAuthor Commented:
Are saying to simply stick to the CBT's and learn from them without getting my hand dirty. That is not ideal for me. I can watch all the videos in the world, but it is nothing unless I can get down and dirty in creating a scaled down version at home.
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
I did look at it. But where the pain points would be is dependent on where you cut corners. You want details from me, but provided none of your own. I'm not psychic. I don't know where you plan on cutting to meet your budget. But the link is to a HOME LAB so it is already about as bare bones as you can get and still learn all the facets of vmware's platform including DRS, etc.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Yes, I generally Proof of Concept, using VMware Workstation, a laptop with a large amount of memory is handy.

At our office, we have 20 Labs, which have been scaled down from DL ProLiant Servers and SANs, and we now use the HP ProLiant MicroServer....

this is a 12 TB SAN running Oracle ZFS

http://andysworld.org.uk/2011/08/25/skynet-ssdsupersan-hp-proliant-microserver-with-a-6-bay-hot-plug-sata-drive-bay/

4 x 3TB disks, and 4 x SSDs for Zil/Arc cache, and 2 disks for OS.

Micro Proliant Servers

http://andysworld.org.uk/2011/07/27/hp-proliant-microserver-n36l-got-yours-yet/

one of our Clusters

http://andysworld.org.uk/2011/08/25/a-cluster-of-hp-proliant-microservers-running-vmware-vsphere-50-esxi-50/
Also, with your own lab, you can try different things, which may affect production.

Many VCP, VMware vExpert has their own lab, whether physical hardware, VMware Workstation, or BareMetalCloud.com, or VMware Hands on Labs..

vSphere 5.0 AutoLab by Alastair Cooke

I would also recommend looking at vSphere 5.0 AutoLab by fellow vExpert - Alastair Cooke
 
What is the AutoLab?

The AutoLab is a quick easy way to build a vSphere environment for  testing and learning using a single desktop or laptop PC and VMware  Workstation, Fusion or ESXi. The whole lab runs in VMs on that one PC,  even ESXi runs in a VM and can then run it’s own VMs.

 Take a look over at ProfessionalVMware for details of how to get started with building your own vSphere 5 AutoLab.
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BLACK THANOSAuthor Commented:
Andrew,
you hit the nail on the head for me. Thats the kind of feedback I was looking for, although I do understand that I gave Cliff no details of my desired home lab. That's because I don't know what I need. I don't know what my pain points are or even if I go out a buy a bare-bones system with 32gigs of Ram, if it will even be enough, so thank you for your recommendation.
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jhyieslaCommented:
I set up a lab in my home where I'm running ESXi 5.1 - haven't upgraded yet - and View 5.2. I can't remember the hardware costs exactly, but they weren't horrible. We did save some costs by purchasing a NAS box from Synology and we didn't put any drives in the hosts (BTW I have two hosts) - hosts boot from a USB stick. The hardest part  was getting a mono that met ESXi specs AND whose hardware was totally complaint. For example, we bought SuperMicro boards and they work really well, but although they come with two built-in NICs, only one of them was compatible with ESXi - go figure. Also, we found that only certain USB slots will boot the stick. I initially bough them with 16 GB of RAM, but that soon become too little. I've upped the RAM in them to 64 GB which works just fine. More can be better, but I'm not doing anything super big so the 64 GB works for me. We also bought fanless P/S which also work OK, so this helped to keep power and noise down. The cases have enough fan cooling that heat hasn't been an issue. I opted to put the whole lab on its own LAN,which turned out to probably be a mistake. Getting all of the routing, etc working properly to and from my main LAN and the Internet has turned out to be more of a pain that it was worth. I'll probably retool at some point and put it all on my own LAN.
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BLACK THANOSAuthor Commented:
Thanks for sharing Jyhiesla,

non Horrible cost to one person may me horrible cost to another. The bottom line is that it comes to how much spendable income you have available to even get a small scale up and running . $5000 dollars for a scaled version of the entire VMware paradigm is too rich for my taste. I will save up to be able to build a scaled version Vmware. For now I am stuck with looking at labs and following along. Acceptable but boorrrrrrrning. I like hands ons.
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jhyieslaCommented:
I think my cost with two hosts and the storage was somewhere around $2000; probably just a bit more. That was only for the hardware costs. If you get less hosts, obviously that cost goes down.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Don't forget electrical costs!
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
If you wanted to build a full lab (full meaning covering every VMWare feature) from scratch (scratch meaning you have no existing hardware) then yes $5,000+ is probably about right.  My comment here is more of a business scenario than a technical one, but I do think it is valid.

There is *no way* any IT Pro should be taking on a VMware client that has DRS if their only experience with VMware ESXi is from a training course. That is career suicide. Even if you run your own business, your reputation will be shot. A customer big enough to use a VMware cluster is big enough they'll know who to blame, and they talk with other companies their size through Chamber of Commerce, etc.

So realistically you don't *need* a "full" lab right now. Build a lab and learn ESXi. Maybe basic vSphere stuff. Then take on clients or move existing clients to that platform during their normal upgrade cycle. Don't take on larger clients (aka don't bite off more than you can chew.)  

This is basically a variation on the old adage that it takes money to make money. You wouldn't spend $5k unless you can make that back in profit from the skills you learn. And if you try to do it all at once, you'll never see that profit. But if you build a $1k lab, you can easily make that back. And then invest the profit to build out your lab and learn new features. Then start taking on clients that need/want that feature and charge higher rates (which equals more profit) and pay back the lab expansion. Then expand the lab again and build out. Then hire a keyboard jockey as an employee to handle the small VMware clients that you took on early on as you were starting out in VMware.

Yes, I understand what you mean that $5k is probably too rich for your taste right now. But even if you could spend it, that's probably jumping into the deep end of the pool without knowing how to swim. I've been involved in I.T. and MSP startups for years now and have had the privilege to coach some IT folks into a successful business of their own and this process (as common sense as it seems) is applicable not just to VMware, but to many products. Your lab will eventually be worth quite a bit more than $5k, but you don't need to lay out that cost all at once.

-Cliff
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Our "play labs", don't cost us $5,000!

But, our R&D labs cost fast more....where we replicate some Client environments for Support and Dev, but they pay us a Support Contract for that!
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BLACK THANOSAuthor Commented:
Experts, experts, experts,

Slow your roll. I have no intention of taking on clients AT ALL. I simply want to master VMware, and yes, I do want to take baby steps, I am in no rush other than if I get a job offer that requires knowledge of Vmware, Hyper V, or Citrix. I do have knowledge of all three , but organizations that hire want you to hit the ground running. That's what I want to do. In my last job, I managed the Vmware infrasture via the vsphere client and it wasn't rocket science, but I didn't build the infrastructure. I want to know as much about the nuts and bolts as I do the management and monitoring portions. Keep in mind that most organizations , even non profits have maintenance and subscription contracts that allow you to call if a break fix issue occurs. I simply wanted to build something at home so I could keep up with the changes in not only Vwmare, but  Hyper V and  Citrix presentation server, as these are what I find most hiring organizations require knowledge of.  I am simply looking for my next career opportunity and want to be prepared when that phone interview happens and if I am sufficiently versed, then subsequent interviews will come ,culminating in the offer of a full time position.  I hope I have made what my intent is clear. For clarity, I thank God that each of you has given me some perspective on what I can and cannot do. while I prefer working with Active Directory and scripting , I need to have the three aforemented technologies under my belt and know them as least as well as AD and Vbscript,  VBA , WMI, WSH, Primalscript, Powershell, and etc...
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
VMware Workstation is a good starting point, MVA, VMware Hands on Labs, vendors are chucking money at FREE training programs at present!

and there's always EE.....to ask Questions!
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BLACK THANOSAuthor Commented:
Thanks Experts.
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