New Hands On Lab: Virtual SAN 6.2 (HOL-1708-SDC-1)

Cost: FREE! All of the HOL’s at VMware are free, but time out after a certain time frame.

The purpose of this lab is to help in understanding the basics of VMware Virtual SAN. This self-paced lab is divided into 5 modules, each of which highlights important steps pertaining to configuration, feature enablement, and troubleshooting of VMware Virtual SAN. Each module contains multiple lessons that elaborate specific topics. The modules are independent of each and can be exercised in any order as preferred by the student.

Enroll in HOL-1708-SDC-1

Posted in Labs, vSAN | 1 Comment

Adding internal USB to an ESXi (or any) machine.

Just a quick post today. A few people have asked me if it was possible to add an internal USB port to a home lab server. This $5 item was made for homelabbers!

A large portion of the servers being built these days have internal USB or even SD card slots and it’s nice to not have a USB stick popping out of the back of a machine.

The StarTech USB A to USB Motherboard 4-Pin Header F/F 2.0 Cable, 6″ (USBMBADAPT) is what you can use.

You just plug this into the USB headers on the motherboard and you’re set. As long as your motherboard has one available! That’s the only gotcha. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen one without it though. The hardest part I had was finding a good spot for it to hang. I ended up using a zip tie to secure it.

Posted in Home Lab, Whitebox | 1 Comment

New Hands On Lab: What’s New: vSphere 6.5 (HOL-1710-SDC-6)

HOL-1710-SDC-6 – What’s New: vSphere 6.5

Cost: FREE! All of the HOL’s at VMware are free, but time out after a certain time frame.

In this lab, you will explore some of the new feature of vSphere 6.5 including encrypted VMs, HTML5 Host Client and the vCenter Server appliance.

  • Scale Enhancements
  • VMware vCenter Server Appliance Updates
  • vCenter Server High Availability
  • vCenter Server Backup and Restore
  • vCenter Server Appliance Tool (Windows to Appliance)
  • vSphere Client (HTML5!)
  • Security-at-Scale
  • VM-level Encryption
  • Secure Boot
  • vSphere Integrated Containers
  • Proactive High Availability
  • Cross Cloud vMotion
  • Virtual Volume Replication

Enroll in HOL-1710-SDC-6

Posted in Labs, vSphere 6.5 | Leave a comment

Homelab Tip: Upgrade ESXi 5.5 to 6.0 U2 via command line using VMware Online Depot.

I’ll start off by saying that if you use a customized ESXi build with community supported vibs, you’re not going to want to constantly rebuild your ESXi hosts when new versions come out! Here’s what you can do to upgrade from 5.5 to 6.0 U2.

It’s a simple way to upgrade your hosts and is perfect for a small number of hosts.

  1. Place the host you want to upgrade into Maintenance Mode.
  2. On the host you’re about to upgrade, go to the Configuration tab > Security Profile and Enable SSH under Services.
  3. Open PuTTY and SSH into your host.
  4. Type the commands below into your host(s).
#Open the firewall for outgoing HTTP requests.
esxcli network firewall ruleset set -e true -r httpClient
#Upgrades to ESXi 6 Update 2.
esxcli software profile update -p ESXi-6.0.0-20160302001-standard -d
#When the above finishes, reboot the host.

After the host has been rebooted, return firewall to original state.

#Close the firewall for outgoing HTTP requests.
esxcli network firewall ruleset set -e false -r httpClient

You also might consider turning off SSH as well, I’ll leave that up to you.

Posted in vSphere 6 | Leave a comment

Building a VMware home lab with AutoLab.

Rick Crisci from and fellow VCI, has documented the process of running a home lab in AutoLab in VMware Workstation. There are a couple benefits and downsides of running a VMware home lab in AutoLab. Lets cover those.


  • Relatively low cost of entry with just needing VMware Workstation and PowerCLI (free).
  • Possibly no extra hardware to purchase.
  • You can deploy it relatively easily.


  • You need a large machine capable of running multiple machines. Lots of memory is key here! A machine with 8-12GB of memory is barely going to cut it if you’re planning to keep your lab up and running to practice with.
  • Not all VMware features are supported. Fault Tolerance and vSAN will give you a bit of grief trying to configure it. The two links listed will help you get it running with a little added effort.

AutoLab Deployment Guide can be downloaded here.

Even AutoLab themselves releases recommended hardware to run this on. Here are a few price points and hardware that run a nested lab well!

$1,000 Price Point

$2,000 Price Point

Posted in Certification, Home Lab, vSphere 6 | Leave a comment

Yet another, Perfect vSphere 6 Home Lab

The time has come once again to update my home lab. I’m currently running Shuttle DS81 units and a Synology DS1515+. I plan to keep the NAS unit and upgrade my hosts. I have decided to move back to Intel NUCs this time. I have used them in the past and similar to the Shuttle boxes they are low power, relativley inexpensive, small and quiet. Everyone asks me about cost and generally these can be built for $650-750 USD.

Lets start with a parts list. For simplicity we will focus on building a simple standalone host, however you mind find it nicer having 2 or 3 of them. I will let your budget decide that!






1 x Intel NUC 6th Gen NUC6i3SYH (Intel i3) or 1x Intel NUC 6th Gen NUC6i5SYH (Intel i5)

  • Be sure to update to at least BIOS v44. NVMe devices can be used after the BIOS has been updated. Anything prior to that and you’ll wonder why they disappeared or are unavailable.

These Intel NUCs are nice in that they don’t require any out of box drivers to be loaded like the Shuttles required. Use the vanilla ESXi 6 install media and you will be fine.

2 x 16GB DDR4 Modules

NOTE: The disks below are only required if you’re planning to use vSAN, you can simply install ESXi to USB stick if you’re going to use some kind of NAS device like a Synology. For a basic no vSAN homelab.

1x Samsung NVMe 128GB SSD

  • This can be used for a vSAN cache disk.

1x Samsung 500GB SSD

  • This will be used for vSAN capacity disk.

1x Cisco SG300-10 Port Managed Gigabit Switch


  • Because the NUC only has a single network adapter with no real way of expanding or adding additional adapters, you’ll want to ideally setup a few vLANs to segment your network traffic.

William Lam runs a very similar setup and has additional vSAN details on his page.

Posted in Home Lab, vSphere, vSphere 6, Whitebox | 3 Comments