Journey to VCIX-NV – Intro

This is my series regarding my journey towards VCIX-NV. This series is not about giving you a full hands-on guide for the exam as many have already done this well, but this is only about adding more remarks about the lab issues and other useful resources.

For those who don’t know VCIX-NV is a practical-lab certification for VMware NSX. To be able to pass the exam you will need a home-lab or some old servers at work which have been setup with vSphere and NSX so you can get your hands dirty.

This is just an introduction I will list my used resources, my home lab configuration and a short description of what my virtual lab is gonna be like.

Used Resources:

 

Home Lab:

For my home lab I’m using a Dell Precision T5500 Workstation with 2 Intel Nehalem Processors (2x 6 core with HT Enabled) and 72 GB of RAM. It’s also equipped with one 74 GB SAS 10K disk for OS, three 146 GB SAS 15k disks in RAID-0 configuration for Tier 2 data and a Kingston HyperX 3k 240 GB SSD disk for Tier 1 data.

I installed Win 2k8 R2 with VMware Workstation 12.1 Pro and it will be my first-level hypervisor. In VMware Workstation, I created most of my base VMs for the lab as it’ll be explained in next section.

 

Virtual Lab Structure:

The next diagram is an overview of the entire virtual lab (click here to view in full size or download):

NSX

As previously mentioned, Level-1 Hypervisor is VMware Workstation. Level-2 Hypervisor is nested ESXi Hosts built as VMs on Workstation, beside NSX Managers and a jump machine based on Win 2k8 R2 and working as AD DC, DNS , NTP Source and Router between different networks used in my lab.

I’m using vSphere 6.0 U2 components as well as NSX 6.2.3, although according to the blueprint the exam uses NSX 6.0.2. But I wanted to learn also about the new features in NSX 6.2.3, like: Cross-vCenter NSX.

This lab simulates two sites:

Site-1: 3 Clusters: Mgmt. Cluster – Comp01 Cluster – Comp02 Cluster

Site-2: Single Cluster: Comp03 Cluster

To separate your networks, use LAN Segments option when connecting your virtual Network Card in VMware Workstation as shown in diagram above.

This lab also depends on VSAN. If you don’t have a SSD installed and want to fake the SSD drive to enable VSAN, follow this article by the genius William Lam. To Bootstrap a VSAN cluster with single node to deploy vCenter on it, follow William Lam’s article. To initiate a single-node VSAN cluster while vCenter is up and running, which is the case for Comp02 Cluster, follow my article about Creating a single-node VSAN Cluster under vCenter.

NSX Manager OVA file is deployed using VMware Workstation, which doesn’t allow you to set IP address or even admin account password or CLI Privileged Mode password. Follow my article here to set them up after deployment.

 

Some issues I came across:

  • I recommend that you enable VMs swapping on VMware Workstation to allow more virtual memory on your hardware (memory over-commitment) as per this article by William Lam again!
  • I recommend that you distribute your ESXi Hard disks on different SCSI Controllers on the VMs, i.e. SCSI Nodes (0:x, 1:x and 2:x) for more Queue stacks and higher performance of VSAN.
  • I recommend not to bootstrap a single node and deploy vCenter on it. I found it to be slow and some times when you pause and resume your Mgmt ESXi Hosts, vCenter will be restarted due to HA action. Instead I recommend to build vCenter on Level-1 Hypervisor.

 

Complete Series:

 

 

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