Nested lab


Since my lab that I use to have has been slightly outdated by newer version of vSphere etc. and the old kit has started to show signs of retirement I thought about what do I do in the mean time.

I decided to build a nested lab of sorts on my laptop. So having installed VMware workstation I decided to create some virtual networks and keep things isolated.

I should mention that the laptop I use in this case is a Dell XPS with a 12 Gen i7 CPU and 64 GB ram + a 1 TB disk. I am not saying this won’t run on smaller configurations but there may be a need to limit it in some cases.

The other thing I wanted to do with this lab was to create it from an ansible host so that I can recreate it whenever I need to. I would need at least one DNS host with forward an reverse lookup zones. With the interest in keeping most things automated that means that certain part will need to be created manually still. In the case here, the Ansible host, DNS host and the router also. This may change down the road but for now I will create at least those three things for now.

So Ansible and DNS host could technically be combined into one Linux host. Then up to 6 esxi hosts. If we create it a bit carefully then 2 hosts can be created with 12 GB ram to host the vCenter and one or two applications and the other two servers can be created with  8 gb Ram. The reason for 2+4 hosts is that it allows me to play with vSAN in various configurations. We don’t need to keep the servers powered on all the time, only for doing certain tasks.

The idea is to have a two node cluster created, deploy vcenter to that 2 node cluster in a very small (read: tiny) configuration and keep it minimal. Then deploy the 3 other esxi hosts as a play ground. I was thinking to tie all this together with a vyos router hence everything is “host-only” but can be enabled for the internet by putting the router on to for example the NAT interface.

The class B networks is generally for servers and those should be connected via a vyos router to the internet (when possible). The C-class networks has dhcp enabled and are intended for vSAN and vMotion traffic.

VMnet 11 and 12 are for site 1/cluster 1, VMnet 15 and 16 are for site 2 or cluster 2 depending on what will be created.

This is the base config that I would like to have and then depending on what needs to be done various scenarios can be developed to suite required scenarios.

In VMware Workstation this looks like so:

This is the details of the subnets, I have added the mac address of the router-1. More about why when I show you how to deploy the vyos router.

The DNS host will be based on Debian 11.5 in the current moment of the time (February 2023). it will be a dual CPU, 1 GB ram box for now with a 40 GB disk. This should be more than ample space (and I may update this later to make it much smaller.

The VyOS host will be a single cpu box with 512 mb ram and 4 gb disk and 5 nics.

So with those few things decided lets move to the bits and pieces.


The construction of the fixed parts

The router

Creating the vyOS vm

Installing VyOS