So I’m going to do something new for my blog and that is to at-least make monthly updates to my progression for the month.
This month has been busy I’ve been studying like a banshie for the CCNA exam while at the same time work on a project at work. I’ve schedule my exam for the 29th of June, now that the massive work-project, explained below, is done and I’ve been re-focusing on my studies. On a non-technical note I completed a 22 mile hike around Bear Mountain, CT on the weekend of 16th of May and that was pretty amazing.
Picture from hike:
(Typically I’ve seen a project of this scale done by a few engineers but I was able to do it all solo and without a problem. It’s something I give credit to my home-lab cause I was able to visualize both mentally and physically which allowed me to plan it out accordingly and if I ran into problems with the production environment I just brought it home to the home-lab and troubleshooted it at home.)
The project at work entailed the following hardware/software/consolidation:
1. (2) new Dell R700 series servers on Dual Xeon HT-enabled processors with 128 GB’s of RAM each with 8 gigabit nics w/ internal flash for ESXi 5.5.
2. Equalogic 4100S SAN with 18 TB’s in a RAID 10.
3. (2) Dell N3048 L3 switches in a super-stack for iSCSI/vMotion only traffic – completely separated from production.
4. (6) Dell N2048 switches in a super-stack to replace a aging Dell 2824 switching fabric for production. This also has employed over 5+ vLAN’s now compared to the previous solo flat /24 subnet.
5. 195 minutes of APC UPS backup runtime with Network Shutdown 4.0 remote shutdown module for a DR-power-outage scenario with email alerts for a controlled-monitored shutdown if needed.
6. Network re-cabling of CAT5e and fiber uplinks for the entire network replacing aging CAT 3/5 drops w/ proper punch-down placement and cable management.
7. Employment of a complete VMware Data Center platform with ESXi, vCenter, vCops, VUM, svMotion, vMotion, comprehensive snapshots both virtually and on the storage array, along with use of Backup Assist for backups of the VMware assets.
8. Complete Server Physical-to-Virtual Migration of all server assets with a redundant solo DC “outside of cookie jar” setup for domain fault-tolerance with a an affinity rule for ‘Core’ servers to live on the same host for inter-vSwitch performance benefits.
Benefits of the Project
1. Consolidation of server assets into a centrally managed infrastructure which now allows for greater ease of administrative/resource management, aggregated performance and disaster recovery.
2. Server “right-sizing” for all servers to adjust for higher resources pools which resulting in a 50% performance increase across the board.
3. With the deployment of a SAN for storage, we gained the performance of a centralized array for all servers to access which resulted in a 46% increase in IO speeds for high-demand servers such as our ERP application and SQL databases.
4. With a properly designed network infrastructure broadcasts and security are controlled now with the proper deployment of vLAN’s and ACL’s as-well as performance increases from network segmentation that now all now lives on a 228 Gpbs throughput core switching fabric. The network re-design coupled with the network re-cabling improve network performance drastically from proper placement of cabling away from EMI and the removal of aging CAT 3/5 cabling.
5. Cost savings, by reducing the server footprint we’ve reduced out power costs of the 20+ servers into just a few servers while at the same time reduced our cooling needs.
6. Stability, with the entire server infrastructure we’ve been able to maintain a higher up-time that previously achieved which is amazing coming from a company that in the past was accustomed to daily server crashes which equated into lost revenue.
Overall the month of May was an amazingly fun and busy time for me. I loved every bit of it when it came to doing the project as-well as my CCNA study. When I got done with the project I stepped back and it hit me; “I did it”, I completed the project from start (design/planning) to finish (implementation/configuration/administration) all by myself without any outside help. To me that feeling of achievement was amazing that with my commitment to my certifications and home-lab/self-study I was able to do this project without any problems at all. This just proves to me that I’m doing the right things with my career and I look forward to a promising future. 🙂
I’d like to say a special thanks to the guys/gals over at Techexams.net; your invaluable insight into my questions has been hands-down essential, and I’d like to thank my co-worker Juan Ayala for being super supportive, also for my parents and friends who said I was estranged from them but in-fact I was just dedicated to completing the project.
Once again being a very active member of the www.techexams.net community I have discovered VMUG. VMUG is a user-based group that focuses on the areas of VMware and it’s solutions. I joined the network and 3 weeks ago I purchased the VMUG Advantage subscription and to my amazement this year VMware is offering the following software for home-lab users:
Included products are:
- VMware vCenter Server™ 5 Standalone for vSphere 5
- VMware vSphere® with Operations Management™ Enterprise Plus
- VMware vCloud Suite® Standard
- VMware vRealize™ Operations Insight™
- VMware vRealize Operations™ 6 Enterprise
- VMware vRealize Log Insight™
- VMware vRealize Operations for Horizon®
- VMware Horizon® Advanced Edition
- VMware Virtual SAN™
VMUG Advantage: link
Well one of the neat things they did recently is now the subscription allows me to use 3 hosts with up to 6 CPU’s and unlimited cores. So…… now my home cluster can have Enterprise Plus licensing with vCOPS and vSAN. I still have enough for a 3rd host later on down the road if I choose to get one for even more testing.
One of the things I really like is vCOPS and what it shows you in one pane of glass. The feature of this solution really help for complex and large datacenters. I’ve been using at work and the centralized management of my cluster is amazing. it makes vCenter look like a walk in the park. At some point I will test on vRealize but for right now I’m having way too much fun with the vSphere 5.5 w/ vCOPS and vSAN in my QNAP Ts-420 IP SAN in the home lab.
I’m really quite excited that VMware is doing this technet-oriented subscription for VMware. I like home-labbing and spend over 20+ hours a week invested into labbing with VMware, Cisco, Microsoft, and Sonicwall technologies and having a licensed and fully working VMware cluster really helps replicate a Enterprise grade network as close to the real deal as can be physically possible. I’m looking forward to now cramming these existing twin Dell R610’s with 64 GB’s of RAM and fully utilizing there benefits to a home cluster…..
My only problem now is I need to expand my home network out of a /24 into a /23 or use multiple vlans for all my VM’s and projects, lol! – Never thought that would happen!
Below is my vCOPS for my home lab, and without this solution I would have never been able to see that my VM’s are over provisioned.
Whelp it was a long study but after 5 months of study I’ve completed the VCP5-DCV course study and passed the exam on January 5th 2015. Since taking the ICM class at Stanly College in Locust NC back in October of 2014 I was basically living in my home-lab 5 hours a night during the week and about 10 hours on weekends and working with VMware 5.5 on a daily basis on the job at customer locations. I was actually kind of shocked by getting into the ICM class back in September and kind of pissed, I was literally 3 weeks from taking my CCNA:R&S exam but I had to shift gears and move into the VMware track…
In-fact in the month of December I did 10 full VMware ESXi 5.5 deployments sporting Dell R720 servers, Dell Equalogic SAN storage, HP/Cisco/Dell Switches for both iSCSI and FCoE as-well as deploying networking fabric to enhance the capabilities of customer networks. It’s been a blast and it really helped me pass the exam, also knowing that customers server infrastructure is state of-the-art! …But this kind of stuff is what I like doing…
I really underestimated the complexity of the exam and how hard it really was, but I managed to pass it. I really enjoyed working with VMware’s vSphere and vCenter products so this was quite the achievement for me personally (once I’m done with my next 2 certifications I’ll probably tackle the VCAP5-DCA) and furthermore how this product suite can truly make for a better working environment for pretty much any IT infrastructure that doesn’t yet utilize visualization. The features it provides your classical IT design strategy really helps a IT department sleep better; this is all coming from a IT person like myself that dealt with IT before the use of visualization.
The VCP5-DCV exam was hard, but now I’m getting back on the bandwagon and pressing onward and back on-track towards my Cisco Certified Network Associate: Routing and Switching (CCNA: R&S) since I’ve been using Cisco for a few years now but I want to get certified in networking and Cisco has the networking sector by the balls. My goal is to be CCNA:R&S certified by the end of March 2015. My overall goals for 2015 are to get my CCNA:R&S and my MCSA, if I have time the CCNA: Security.
Now some of you may-be like wow you have a pretty extensive lab; well I do but there is a method to my madness. I wanted to get my CCNA:R&S 1st but fate had a different route and I got my VCP5-DCV 1st so now I’m getting back into Cisco, once I get my CCNA:R&S I’ll pursue my MCSA. See this lab may-be extensive but it’s many solutions built into one package, that package is as close to a enterprise network as can be done.
Currently my VMware cluster has 2 different forests being used on two of the vLAN’s in the Cisco lab, this mimics two different Windows Domains and VMware datacenters and since this Cisco lab is setup to be isolated, the domains never leave the Cisco lab but the vCenter appliance is linked to a management network connected to my home LAN so I can manage them as if I had access to both networks, it seems complicated but it’s really not, we not for me at-least. See it may not be a very large scale deployment but its the practice that makes perfect I always say.
Below is a picture of my current Cisco Lab Topology for those that are curious:
1) the dotted squares represent network boundaries or vlans
2) The red lines are the production/management vlans
3) the green lines are for iSCSI/vMotion/svMotion only traffic.
I figured since I like posting my labs and all I figured I’d make a blog for my VMware/Cisco/Microsoft Pursuit. – Right now the blog is being updated as I move along in my studies.
This is a work in progress. I’ll be adding content along the way.