VCF Lab Constructor, helping me deploy VCF in my lab

I have a few weeks left with the servers I’ve borrowed from Dell for my Define Tomorrow presentation and it would be a shame to waste them. VMware Cloud Foundation (CVF) is something I’ve always wanted to have a play with, but I’ve never had the horsepower in the lab to do this until now.

There is a real easy way to get started with VCF, and that is using the VCF Lab Constructor (VLC) package created by Heath Johnson and Ben Sier at VMware. I first heard about the VLC tool listening to an episode of the virtually speaking podcast

To get access to VLC simply register by filling out this form but you need to be a partner or a vExpert to get access to the Cloud Builder appliance, plus you will also need to have the license keys for ESXi, vSAN, NSX and vCenter to complete the install.

There is a great PDF guide included in the download which details all the steps needed to get started, along with some great advice on what hardware is needed for your lab and how best to configure it. As I like to tinker with things, I decided to edit the JSON file used for deployment and change the IP addresses to match my internal subnets. When editing any type of code file, I prefer to use Visual Studio Code rather than Notepad++.

It took around 3 hours to fully deploy VCF to a point where I can use it. This isn’t bad to go from zero to a full 4 host management cluster running on vSAN with NSX-T installed and configured. Once you have read the documentation the process should be quite straightforward to get your head around, especially if you have played around with deployment scripts before. I chose to tweak the JSON file for my environment, but you don’t have to do this and can get it working out of the box using the default settings.

To get started launch the VLCgui.ps1 script from the management machine and if you have followed the steps correctly, you’ll see a box like this. For those getting started it’s recommended to go with the automated deployment.

Fill out all the details as per the guide and connect to your host or vCenter where you be deploying the nested lab.

In my lab I’ve created a new cluster called VCF and put a single host in it to keep things simple. Hit validate and if successful can kick off the build. After a few hours and many cups of tea, you’ll be able to login to SDDC manager and see the results of the scripts hard work. As you can see below it’s deployed 4 nested hosts, plus the cloud builder appliance to my lab.

The screen below is the view of the nested vCenter that runs on top of the 4 nested hosts on my lab above. So we’ve gone Inception level deep here, down 3 layers! This is where SDDC manager, NSX-T manager and the NSX edge appliances run as well.

In total the VCF lab is consuming around 200GB RAM, including resources for my jump box. As it’s idle at the moment there is plenty of CPU capacity remaining.

Next on my agenda is to deploy the vRealize Suite to VCF and have a play around with these. The deployment should be mostly automated due to the integration of vRealize in VCF4.1. I’m hoping to get another post out around this before I need to return the hardware.

Useful Links

VCF Lab Builder