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This is a highly abbreviated how-to guide to build your own VMware vSphere lab very quickly:

  • Acquire/build a computer with more than 16GB of RAM that will allow virtualization pass-thru (if you don’t already know, then research this before you proceed)
  • Install your choice of operating system and virtualization package (I use VirtualBox on CentOS)
  • Create a VM and install your choice of linux operating system
    Bring up NFS and any other network services (DHCP, DNS, etc.) on that box that you want to use in your lab (forget Active Directory in the lab environment; it’s not necessary)
  • Create an account with VMware and start your evaluation of vSphere – download all the things you want to evaluate (ESXi, vCenter Server Appliance, etc.)
  • Create 2+ identical VMs running ESXi (create one, then create a clone of it) – make sure to provide at least 2 cores and 2096 MB RAM
  • Import the vCenter Server Appliance OVF – in VirtualBox (File -> Import Appliance)
  • Start the vCSA you just imported. Once it’s up, it will give you a URL to visit to complete the setup – follow the instructions to get a “default” setup of vCSA.
  • Point your vSphere Client at your new vCSA or point the browser of your choice to https://<name or IP of vCSA>/vsphere-client and you’re off!

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