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VCAP-CIA lab preparations

As I will be preparing the VCAP-CIA next and this exam, like the VCAP5-DCA, is performance based I will need access to a lab.

Section 1.11 of the blueprint covers the exam environment which is quite large compared to the VCAP5-DCA environment.

3x vCenter 5.1: 4GB = 12 GB
7x 5.1 Host: 3BB = 21 GB
4x vCD cell: 1GB = 4 GB
3x vSM: 1GB = 3 GB

Even if one host and vCenter are assumed to be the actual management cluster and can be ignored on building the lab this still totals out to 32 GB of RAM in total with possible swapping as the vCenter Servers in 5.1 will be on a lot of pressure on just 4 GB of RAM and everything else is also configured at the bare minimum. And this is without counting the additional software like Chargeback or the vMA.

As I do  not have access to shared storage yet (since I want to buy a proper NAS which is out of budget for now) I will also need to cope with the resources needed for a virtualized storage solution.

I intend to purchase an SSD for host swapping, so a little over commitment of resources should not hurt the performance too bad, but the actual host should at least have 32 GB of RAM. As I used laptops for the last couple of years I did not have a case and power supply lying around to re-use which meant that I would either need to buy a complete box or assemble it myself.

Getting parts in Ireland for a reasonable price actually seems to be quite a challenge, so I decided to buy a full blown box. I will add another 4 port NIC to the host and should be good to go, as I prefer to pay a little more and actually have someone else to build the box since I don’t have access to a proper working bench and tools anymore anyway.

I decided for an 8 core even if that would mean I would spend a little bit more money on the power bill but no matter what I will test in that small lab I don’t think I will ever be CPU capped again. I went for the 32 GB RAM even though non ECC, if one DIMM really turns out to be bad it will be cheap to be swapped out anyway. As for now I will use the OpenDedup Nasapp (http://www.opendedup.org/index.php) for shared storage within the virtualized environment to provide NFS storage but this might change as I still have a HP N40L with a 2 TB disk standing around in the office which I might turn into a NAS box until I can afford something better.

I opted against an environment build with autolab for this environment as it seems to be too far away from the actual test environment. Below you can find a picture of the build right now which I will add more VMs to when I start breaking down the objectives of the blueprint (adding 3 more vCD cells when covering objective 1.2 for example).


 The actual build of the lab was inspired by a blog post of Timo Sugliani (http://blog.tsugliani.fr/featured/create-your-own-virtual-vcloud-lab-part-1/). I chose 6 hosts for now to have the possibility to test all allocation models while still being able to move machines around in a cluster and prepare or unprepare some hosts. For later objectives on the blueprint I will add another vCenter server, vShield Manager appliance and a couple of hosts to tackle the provider vDC and organization vDC management abilities requested in the blueprint.

Right now only local authentication is possible as there is no LDAP server running in the lab which is also a feature that will be added at a later stage when it becomes relevant.

This simple setup for now should still be able to cover most parts of the blueprint, so the next couple of posts will actually be starting to breakdown the objectives in an order which I personally deem least time consuming to learn and demonstrate.

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