How to set up a HomeLAB for vSphere 4.X and vSphere 5.X – part 2


In a first part I described how to create HomeLab in a Box based on Linux or Windows host OS and VMware Workstation.

How to set up a Home LAB for vSpehre 4 and vSphere5 – part 1

In second part of my series, I will describe how to create a HomeLab in a box but running on ESXi 5.1 as host platform. The approach is to have stable, universal, low cost  platform on which one can build, test and develop various type of systems and configurations.  HomeLab base components:

  • as a host platform is vSphere 5.1.1 Free version
  • homelab virtual infrastructure – AD, DNS, storage appliance, router and FW appliance – provides basic and common services for every virtual lab,
  • vSphere virtual infra or any other virtual infra as a test environment
  • physical network – provides connectivity outside the box
  • virtual network – provides connectivity within virtual lab environments
HomeLab logical design

HomeLab logical design


  • Hardware
    • Desktop computer, server which supports ESXi5.1 – HERE you can find tested hardware for vSphere ESXi5 and ESXi5.1.1 HomeLab
  • Software,
  • Prepare IP address and host name matrix for vSphere LAB
    • 1 x AD controller
    • 1 x vCenter server
    • 3 x ESXi servers mgmt interface (1 for host system and 2 for nested)
    • 2 x ESXi vMotion interface (only for nested ESXi systems)
    • 2 x ESXi iSCSI or NFS vmk interface (only for nested ESXi systems
    • 1 x storage appliance
    • 1 x router and firewall appliance
    • 1 x SQL server (optional)
    • 1x vCenter SSO server (optional)

Step by step instruction:

  1. Install ESXi on host hardware
  2. Prepare ESXi host system to pass virtualization instructions to nested (virtualized – ESxi installed on VM) ESXi servers
  3. Nested ESXi 5.5 on vSphere 5.1
  4. Deploy VM with Windows Server system
    • Create Active directory domain
    • Create DNS with reverse lookup zones
    • Create DNS entries for vSphere homelab
    • Create MSSQL or Oracle server for DB hosting
  5. Deploy and install vCenter server on VM – link here
  6. Deploy and configure virtual storage appliance – OpenFiler
  7. Deploy and configure modern storage appliance – Nexenta
  8. Deploy virtual firewall and router
    1. pfSense – Part 1
    2. pfSense – Part 2
    3. pfSense – Part 3
  9. Deploy nested ESXi servers
  10. Connect ESXi nested servers to vCenter server
  11. Connect iSCSI or NFS shared storage to ESXi nested servers

DONE, basic vSphere homelab configuration is done, how one should be able to connect to vCenter server, deploy new VM, vMotion, storage vMotion, Fault Tolerance and many many more.

Based on above configuration one can deploy vCloud Director, VMware View, VMware Site Recovery Manger, vCloud Suite, Hypper-V 2012  and more.

vSphere HomeLab physical design

vSphere HomeLab physical design

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Artur Krzywdzinski

Artur is Consulting Architect at Nutanix. He has been using, designing and deploying VMware based solutions since 2005 and Microsoft since 2012. He specialize in designing and implementing private and hybrid cloud solution based on VMware and Microsoft software stacks, datacenter migrations and transformation, disaster avoidance. Artur holds VMware Certified Design Expert certification (VCDX #077).

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