Expanding my homelab with nested vCenter

I’m lucky/stupid enough to have reasonably powerful hardware for my home lab. Whilst I am a great advocate of building as much on physical equipment as possible, sometimes hardware costs are prohibitive or overkill to experiment with some new technologies.

A new project at work required some work on Cross-vCenter NSX. Since I only had the one vCenter server and group of hosts, I figured that a good way to achieve this is to deploy a nested environment. This has added benefit of being able to experiment with using vCenter Server in Linked Mode. Some colleagues have been egging me on to become VCAP in either DCV or NV so this may be the foundation for that too!

First of all I used William Lam’s scripts to achieve this. It took a few minutes to prepare the script as well as configuring my current environment with a new port group for the nested environment to live on. I really do need to learn more about scripting and automation. It’s very cool watching someone else’s script achieving in 24 minutes what would take you a few hours, but after some recent work experiences it’s also very cool doing one for yourself and seeing the results and speed things can be achieved.

Unfortunately I am not good enough at scripting to modify the JSON file/script for the vCenter deployment to join it to my existing SSO domain, so I thought I would just deploy the new vCenter server, allow the script to make the necessary changes such as installing vSAN, then using the installer UI to install a new vCenter server joining my existing SSO domain and seizing the hosts. Total time was around an hour, William’s script taking 24 minutes and then the rest hand cranked taking just over half an hour. What I have been left with is the following:

The second vCenter server is installed on the original physical hardware in the vCenter1 environment. In vCenter2 all I have is the secondary NSX Manager. I put it there so I can practice cross vCenter vMotion once I’ve sorted out shared storage from my QNAP NAS.

I am now able to complete what I need to for work which is scripting micro-segmentation rules including Universal Groups and Security Tags etc and seeing how it all behaves. I am also able to practice cross site vMotion and also more advanced NSX configurations which will provide invaluable experience should I ever take VCAP Deploy for NV.

I have learned a lot from doing this and I would recommend anyone who has a physical environment to deploy a nested lab within. It really doesn’t take long, it’s good practice and it opens up opportunities for learning new things.

As ever, if you have any questions then please let me know. I may expand on this post in the future with some steps of what I did along the way.