Building a Virtualized Testbed on the Cheap - Part I: Hardware and Layout

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Building a Virtualized Testbed on the Cheap - Part I: Hardware and Layout

by Andrew Garcia

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Hardware Used

I only used hardware lying around the lab, none of which is particularly powerful or modern. There will be shortcomings in the ESXi testbed, particularly a lack of 64-bit client support as none of the processors supports virtualization extensions.

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Endgame Topology

With this hardware plus a SATA RAID controller and some USB sticks, I built one virtual host, an iSCSI NAS appliance and a management workstation. It's a flexible architecture that will allow me to easily share already built virtual machines with any additional ESXi servers I add to the network at a later time.

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Software Used

Most of the software used in this demonstration is either free or available as a shareware trial. Hopefully, most of you have already invested in some CD burning software.

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Diskless

Thankfully, my motherboard supported dual processors, so I combined the AMD Opteron 246 processors and RAM from both Opteron machines into one chassis. Because the ESXi footprint is so small, we don't need a hard drive in the ESXi server; we can instead boot and run the software from a 1GB USB stick.

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Building a NAS

I added both the 120GB hard drives from the Opteron servers to the 120GB disk already in this machine. This gave me a 360GB RAID 0 array to use for my iSCSI server. OpenFiler works with the 512MB of RAM I have in this machine, although I would recommend bumping it up to 1GB.

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