Macbook Pro vSphere Lab Part III…Finally!!

Yeah yeah..I know..what the hell took me so long?  Well, most of you know that life, work, family comes first and you have to prioritize but finishing this series on the Macbook lab is long overdue and since Autolab has been updated for vSphere 5.1, I figured it was time…so here we go.

First let me give credit where credit is due, me…lol..seriously the guys over at have made this all possible and very helpful.  I hope that Autolab gains great traction because I can see this as a useful tool especially for VMware partners such as who I work for.  I hope to meet or see some of these guys at VMware PEX to personally thank them!

Some things have changed since my original article on this.  A new version of Fusion has been released that allows you to create custom networks so there is no need for a third party utility like UberFuser unless you do not plan on using Fusion 5.  Fusion 5 brings several enhancements enhancements especially those of you that are “rollin in the dough” with your Retina it’s not just about Custom networking..etc…and of course, it also brings the ability to support Windows 8 Virtual Machines as well, which, I might add, runs extremely well.



At this point you should have a fairly loaded Macbook with at least one larger SSD for Virtual Machine storage and the max ram, 16GB.  If you have a Quadcore, more power too you, not really necessary, I get by with my 13″ Core i5 just fine…though the screen real estate is starting to annoy me more.  Anyway, now that the “Infrastructure” is in place you’ll need the following software:

VMware Fusion 5:

AutoLab 1.1: You’ll need to register to download the package.

Along with AutoLab, you will need to download the versions of vSphere, vCloud, and View you want to test with.  This guide will only cover setting up vSphere as the other products are still being worked on by the Autolab team for and “automated” rollout, this doesn’t mean that can’t be installed in your lab manually…etc.

You will also need to supply OS software for Windows if you want the ability to leverage the automation scripts in Autolab to rollout VM guests as well.  I chose not too as I have other plans for my lab.

The guide is a must and will supply you all the information you will need so make sure that you download that as well.  It will supply you step by step instructions.

On to the fun.  Now that you have the AutoLab software package downloaded, you can create a folder on your SSD drive and extract the contents.  Since there truely is no version for Fusion, you will download the workstation version.  Because of this, the folders are not in the correct format for Fusion to understand so you have to rename all the folders within the package by adding:



Assuming Fusion 5 is already installed, you should notice that each folder will change to a single file with a Fusion Icon.  Now you can import all of these into Fusion.  One thing I did fail to mention is that Fusion should be installed, updated, and a custom network created vmnetX using the subnet.  This is Autolab’s subnet for MGMT.  Make sure this is completed before anything.  If you follow the new guide, it still points to UberFuser, you can disregard that part now since the capability is now in the software.

At this time, please adjust each VM within the folder settings and change the network to the vmnetX network you created previously in Fusion.

Now fire up the Router VM.  This will come up quickly and should look very similar to this:


When that is up and looking healthy you can fire up the NAS Virtual Machine.  This is based on FreeNAS.  There is a share called build which is critical that’s hosted on this NAS that needs to be up and running before we can move on:


After this is completed you’ll want to continue following the guide which points you in preparing your software, naming it appropriately so the scripts work and poplating the folders in the BUILD share to look similar to this:


At this point you want to edit the Automate.ini file to the appropriate level of automation you want and the versions of software you plan to use.  This is something you’ll have to work through on your own using the guide.  I chose vSphere 5.1 and only wanted the ability to configure the ESXi hosts, build the cluster and attach them to vCenter.  Everything else was not useful such as building datastores and some guest VM’s…I personally didn’t need it so mine may look different than yours based on the automated features you want:


Continuing with the guide you can now move on to Setting up the DC.  You will need to supply your own Windows Server 2008 R2 Media, I used SP1 flawlessly so make sure your image is mounted in the settings of the DC as well as the floppy script file which is in the BootFloppies directory in the BUILD share and go through the automated install of your DC.


IMPORTANT: When the DC build is completed you should see a powershell VALIDATE Icon on the desktop, run it to make sure that you have all the required software etc.  You should not have any RED in the script indicating something is missing but if you do, go back and make sure your BUILD folders are populated correctly.  When everything passes on the VALIDATE PowerShell script, you can move on to the VC automated install.  Similar to the Domain Controller, you supply your own 2008R2 media and point the floppy to the appropriate bootfloppy image in the BUILD directory.



When this is completed, again, you want to Validate the install:


As you can see if have some red, but they are for OS images and remember, I don’t care about setting up guest VM’s through automation so this wasn’t a concern for me.

Next up you’ll want to fire up your ESXi hosts.  Here you have the option to auto install the version you want:


Completed and ready for work.  I personally added more memory to my hosts prior to configuration:


Finally, you’ll want to attach the Hosts, build the cluster..etc.  You can do this buy selecting the Autolab PowerShell script on the vCenter Desktop and choosing the appropriate option:


There ya have it!  I know I really went through this fast but follow the included guide and you should have no issues.  Don’t forget a few key things:

1. Change the newtwork settings to point to the new vmnetX network you created in the segment.  Without this you are stuck in the water.  This includes all the interfaces on ESXi..hosts as well.

2. Populate the BUILD share with the software you need and make sure they are in the correct folders, ie VIM51 contains the extracted vCenter for 5.1, ESXi5 contains the extracted contents of ESXi 5..etc.

3. Make sure you setup the Automate.ini file for the automation you want to have in your lab.  Remember, if you fully automate, you will need to have the WindowsXP and 2003 server ISO’s in the BUILD directory..etc.

4. READ and FOLLOW THE GUIDE!!!!<—without this, you’ll be lost, it contains everything you need, user accounts, passwords..etc.


Macbook Pro vSphere Lab Part II

I know you guys have been waiting for the next part in this series, and I wanted to apologize for not getting to this sooner.  As you may know from my previous posts I took on a new job from an Operational IT Manger for a large enterprise to a smaller VMware/Cisco/Dell VAR in Syracuse, NY.  I’m loving the new job so far and I’m jumping right in and getting my hands dirty with vSphere Design, Cisco DataCenter, and Dell Blades/EqualLogic storage.  Because of this, my time has be very limited as my schedule has completely changed.  Even though I had the parts for a while now, I just now had time to start the next here we go.

From the last blog entry I specifically chose parts and software to handle the vSphere lab.  The requirement is that it had to be small, portable, and somewhat speedy so I upped the memory in my Macbook Pro to max it out at 16GB.


As you can see, I already replaced the slow 5400RPM drive that comes with the Macbook pro with a OS SSD.  I had a spare gskill SSD so I used that.  I also needed fast storage for Virtual Machine Datastores, so I went with one of the best SSD’s on the market.  The superdrive needed to be replaced with an additional harddrive mount.  I chose one of the cheaper models at Newegg.  It’s an APEX mount.  While the documentation is nil, i’ll post a link to a video on Youtube which shows you the basics on installation.  While not specific for that mount, it’s still a great guide and will lead you in the right direction.


At the last minute I switched over my chose from a Corsair SSD to a Samsung 830 256GB SSD.  This is one of the best SSD’s on the market.  Looking at Anandtech’s review, certainly helped me make the right choice.  Here it is, layed out ready to be installed.  I am a stickler for making sure that I don’t scratch anything so I usually lay a towel



Here are the connections that you ABSOLUTLEY need to be careful with.  Depending on your model Macbook Pro, there are several connections here that will need to be removed and put back together, two of which are very very small and fragile.  Take your time, do not rush.  The video I post at the end of this blog post will show you very carefully what  you need to do.

Boot it up and the drive will be found by OS X.  FYI, I’m using Mountain Lion and I love it and have had zero issues so far.  Anyway, format the drive etc.


Next, I downloaded the latest version of VMware Fusion 4 and Nick Weaver’s UberNetworkFuser utility.  I’ll get into that in more detail in the Part III.  I did make some choices to utilize the AutoLab Package from  This will be the vApp package and the core of the lab.



A couple of takeaways from this this post.

1.  Make sure you have the correct tools.   Some require torx hardware, mine did not.  It was all small philips head.

2. TAKE YOUR TIME.  Those small connectors are fragile.  If you are having fits of rage, walk  Trust me, you’ll thank me later.

3.  Have lots of light so you can see what the hell your are doing and make sure you have a screw extractor tool.

Here is the video tutorial.  If anything,  you will get the tools and correct methods for uninstalling the superdrive and installing the additional data duplicator  mount.

There ya have it!  Phase two is completed and the “core infrastructure” for my lab is 90% complete.  Stay tuned for Part III.  I hope to have it after VMworld.  For those that are going..I hate you!!…  I didn’t get the opportunity to go this year.  However, there is some changes on the horizon I think that you’ll like, I know i’m very excited!  Until next time!

Macbook Pro vSphere Lab Part I

As I prep for the new position at Teracai, I am up setting up a mobile vSphere lab environment to bring with me to client sites, when needed.  I’ve learned that showing customers the actual software, interface, capabilities..etc is better or expands on your presentation.  I really think EMC got this right.  They devoted an entire infrastructure to Demo their products.  To be in a pre-sales technical position going into a customer site with that capability really has it’s advantages.

Since I’ll be dealing with Cisco, VMware, and Dell products exclusively, I want to gear this lab as much as possible towards showing some of those technologies real time and not just pictures on a powerpoint slide.  This, along with some recorded content that your customers can access can really give them an idea of the product and it’s capabilities.

I’m going to attempt to cover this in a three part blog post.

In Part one of this series I’ll cover the hardware that I chose to get this going.

I’ll be completely honest here, I love Mac.  My wife bought me a Macbook Pro for Christmas last year and for some stupid reason I ended up selling it..and for the past couple months it’s been missed.  Also, we are starting to make the move towards becoming an Apple household.  The whole family has iPhones and iPads and since iCloud is on every device now, it only makes sense to move to Mac.  My wife and teenage daughter are really about Social Media, Music, Photos, Internet Browsing, and Office Productivity.  Mac OS X Lion with Office for Mac fits the bill nicely.  We can have our content protected and synced via iCloud which works out great especially moving from device to device.

Of course there are some downsides to going Mac as well and that is some of the applications just aren’t built for Mac.  I use Visio extensively and it’s a requirement for me to have it.  I realize that there is Omnigraffle but I just can’t get used to using that along with the lack of stencils.

On top of the above requirements, I also needed a decent vSphere lab.  This lab needed to perform decently, the last thing I wanted to do was bring a vSphere lab to a client site and have them think it was slow as all hell.  I need the ability to run at least 2 vESXi hosts, vCenter Server, a couple of VM’s and possibly down the road View or vCloud Director/vShield.  I’m not really counting on the later as CPU and memory, mostly memory will be my constraint in that use case.

Based on the information above, and since the new Macbooks just were released, I was able to snag a 2011 w/Apple Care and Speck case for a killer price.

I also ordered:

1. 16GB DDR3 Corsair Value Select (2 x 8GB)

2. 256GB Samsung 830 (Already have a Gskill SSD for OS drive)

3. SuperDrive Harddrive Caddy replacement

4. VMware Fusion 4

In Part two of this project,  when the hardware arrives, I will update the post with PICs and go through installation of all these components, to include the Macbook Lion install process to the OS SSD, memory upgrade, caddy with SSD installation, and VMware Fusion installation and then we’ll move on to Part three and setup the lab.