Stage VII: Physical Expansion

After my FibreChannel and 10GbE Implementation, the next Projects are already in my mind:

Project Physical vCenter Server:

In the past my vCenter Server was always a virtual machine. I tuned and tweaked the system, especially the memory requirements to fit the VM into my homelab environment. It was OK, but the performance of this VM was not the best. One of my collegues played with the Intel NUC Systems and configured their own ESXi homelab with these Little beasts…

I already had better ESXi hosts, but I liked the NUCs, too. My plan was to use it for a physical vCenter Server:

I bought one Intel NUC with the following specifications:

Intel NUC D33217GKE

Dual Core i3 1,8GHz



Intel Gigabit LAN

Passive Cooling Chassis

I installed Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 onto my new vCenter Server. The OS Installation was no problem, but the NIC was not recognized….. That was a challenge. The Intel NIC Installer always told me, that No Intel Adapters are present.

The Intel NIC drives are only for the Desktop OSs from Microsoft. You need to hack the driver and the OS to make it work.

Intel NUC driver hacking:

Open a Command Prompt and type the following:

bcdedit -set loadoptions DISABLE_INTEGRITY_CHECKS

bcdedit -set TESTSIGNING ON


Change the driver.inf and point to the NDIS6.3 Directory

Install the driver and open a command prompt again:

bcdedit -set loadoptions ENABLE_INTEGRITY_CHECKS
bcdedit -set TESTSIGNING OFF

At this point, I got Windows Server 2012R2 with a NIC running on my NUC. I configured the static IP, joined my Domain, I installed SQL 2012R2, created the vCenter and VUM database and created the ODBC connections. I installed the SSO component, the inventory service, the Webclient service, the vCenter Server itself, the Update Manager Server, the Syslog Collector and the Dump Collector. After a few hours, I got a vCenter Server at home on a physical “server”. My first test was the performance of the WebClient. I cannot believe how fast the vSphere Webclient is running at home. The power depends really on IOPS and storage latency. I am very happy with my vCenter NUC…..

Project Desaster Recovery at home:

After finishing the vCenter Project, my next challenge was Desaster Recovery…. What happend if my vCenter NUC failed? What happend when my custom build central FibreChannel storage failed? What about all my VMs?

I need a solution for that problems: I searched the Internet for a NAS system with small energy footprint. I found a Synology DS411slim.

I wanted a NAS system that supports NFS for VMware Data Protection (vDP) solution. I inserted 4 Notebook 1TB 5400rpm drives and created a Raid5. I configured a folder, created the share with NFS permissions and mounted that share inside my ESXi hosts. I placed my new Desaster Recovery storage inside another room at the basement of my house.

I deployed the vDP appliance on my central FC storage, booted the VM and configured the appliance with three 1TB vmdks on the newly created NFS Mount Point. I created vDP Backup Jobs for all my VMs and configured the backup Scheduler, that all VMs are backed-up every 4 weeks with a retention policy of 180 days. That was my solution for the virtual machines, but how should I protect my physical vCenter Server?

I deployed the vDP Advanced Version with 2TB Deduplicated storage, the advanced Version includes MS SQL agents…..

I installed the vDP SQL Agent on my vCenter Server to backup all SQL databases to my desaster recovery storage. I virutalized the vCenter itself via the VMware Converter, that is a manual process at this time. I need to play a little bit with the VMware Converter scripting to automate that process.

Project UPS at HomeLab:

After a few weeks, my complete homelab was down, due to a power outtake of 3 minutes in my street. My first thought was: I Need a solution for this problem! That should never happend again….

I checked ebay and found out, that used APC UPS systems are really cheap. I got an APC UPS RS 1200 LCD.


Here are the technical specifications:

Output Power Capacity

720 Watts/ 1200 VA
Nominal Input Voltage

Typical recharge time

16 hour(s)
Multi-function LCD status and control console

I was very happy with my homelab environment, I had a powerful vCenter Server running on a physical machine, a solution for desaster recovery and a UPS system. What should I do next? The answer: Two different datacenter at home