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Home lab for MCSE/MCSA self-study

Discussion in 'General Microsoft Certifications' started by imhotep, Mar 16, 2009.

  1. imhotep

    imhotep Bit Poster

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    I have a few questions about setting up a workstation suitable for MCSE/MCSA self-study.

    Lots of people seem to be going the VM route. I've been researching VMware in terms of using it to setup up a workstation with multiple servers and clients all on the same box.

    1. How many servers and clients are necessary to work through MCSE? MCSA?
    2. Which OS is most recommended as the host for VMware? I was thinking about using XP Professional, but I wondered about Vista Ultimate as well?
    3. Given adequate resources, is there any reason why you couldn't do this on a laptop?
    4. Should I expect to have to rebuild the workstation in terms of OS's installed and allotted resources for each cert (or even for each test in the cert), or is it possible to build once with foresight and work through everything without having to rebuild/reformat?

    Lastly...

    5. What would you advise in terms of the two version of VMware for this application? Should I invest in Workstation or just stick with Server?

    Thanks for your fielding all my questions,

    Curt
     
    Certifications: A+ Network+
    WIP: MCSA
  2. John Neerdael

    John Neerdael Nibble Poster

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    I'm running a lab on 1 pc using VMWare Workstation, your major consideration when having limited hardware available (only 1 powerful pc) is your available RAM, I highly recommend that you install at least 6GB ram in your box that you will be running your lab on to keep it workable even with a decent number of servers. It completely depends on how far you will go. I have just finished a lab for 70-640 (Server 08 AD) and I've used about 7 Server 2008 machines simultanious. Now the server 2003 ram requirement are alot less and you can get it running on 256mb for each vm so you could do with 4gb ram aswell if money is a huge issue, ram is cheap now however (Payed 40€ for 2x2gb DDR2 667 ram).

    Windows XP Professional would be the best pick if your host is running less then 3gb ram. If you upgrade your pc for labs go with Vista X64 Business or something. So you can take full advantage of your ram.

    Working on only 1 machine gives you some nice advantages when you want to test things like dhcp relay agents when using vmware teams or different vmnets.
     
    WIP: MCTS: 70-640
  3. imhotep

    imhotep Bit Poster

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    John, thanks the feedback. Let me ask this since you are working on Server 2008. Am I too late in this game to bother with Server 2003? I've heard rumors that Vista is going to be quickly replaced and will be a lot like Windows Me was. I also thought that Server 2003 would remain a viable choice for several years, but perhaps I should forget it and start with Server 2008?

    Thanks again,
    Curt
     
    Certifications: A+ Network+
    WIP: MCSA
  4. Sparky
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    Sparky Zettabyte Poster Moderator

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    Nope, Server 2003 will be around for years. You can always upgrade your MCSE on Server 2003 if you need to.
     
    Certifications: MSc MCSE MCSA:M MCSA:S MCITP:EA MCTS(x5) Security+ Network+ A+
    WIP: Exchange 2007\2010
  5. Gav

    Gav Kilobyte Poster

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    As said above. You need RAM and lots of it.

    I don't know whether you were planning on getting a new system or not, but you can pick up Xeon workstations very cheaply on eBay these days. These have the advantage of having more memory slots than the average PC (up to 8 ), allowing you to install much more RAM ;)
     
  6. John Neerdael

    John Neerdael Nibble Poster

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    As mentioned MCSE/MCSA will remain a good course for plenty of time to come. The reason I'm doing 2008 now is because I'm going to use Server 2008 for a school project since my previous project was fully on 2003 and I want as much experience as I can. Because we havent touched 2008 at all in the classroom I'm schooling myself at home in it and will in the meantime also go get the certs since I'm studying and practicing them anyway. I'm still planning on going for MCSA/E aswell after finishing school in june.

    As for the Xeon pc's I dont know if thats needed, I had to upgrade my motherboard to be able to expand my memory but if you have a recent mobo it hopefully supports 4slots and up to 8 or 16gb ram like new motherboards usually do. I dont think you'll quickly use over 8gb ram unless you want to provide your machines with plenty of ram. I suggest to run your machines on the lowest amount of ram that is doable for the OS/Application your running. The only machine I give some more ram is my virtual exchange server (since it's usually also running all my other member server roles like WSUS, File, Printer server)
     
    WIP: MCTS: 70-640
  7. DC Pr0Mo

    DC Pr0Mo Kilobyte Poster

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    Remember you are limited to 4gb of ram if using a 32-bit operating system as the host.
     
    Certifications: MCDST | BSc Network Computing
    WIP: 70-291 | 70-293 | 70-294 | 70-297
  8. John Neerdael

    John Neerdael Nibble Poster

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    Even if you get 4GB ram I would switch to Vista X64, since a 32bit OS will only use a max of about 3.3GB of your precious 4gb ram while a 64bit can use all.
     
    WIP: MCTS: 70-640
  9. imhotep

    imhotep Bit Poster

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    Thanks everyone for the input. Much appreciated.

    I'm torn on weather to bother with Vista Ultimate at this point. Windows 7 is already in public beta....

    Back to the question of how much RAM - let's say I want to equip myself for setting up multiple instances of Server 2003 with a few XP Pro clients and one or two Ubuntu clients. Would 4GB be adequate? I get the impression that at would.

    Curt
     
    Certifications: A+ Network+
    WIP: MCSA
  10. greenbrucelee
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    greenbrucelee Zettabyte Poster

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    my virtual lab consist of win2k3 and 3 xp pro no need for vista unless your doing the vista exams.
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCDST, Security+, 70-270
    WIP: 70-620 or 70-680?
  11. imhotep

    imhotep Bit Poster

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    Another question...

    How much HD space are you guys allotting to the various servers? I figure 10GB is probably adequate for each client, but what about AD, WSUS, etc for the purposes of self-study?
     
    Certifications: A+ Network+
    WIP: MCSA
  12. craigie

    craigie Terabyte Poster

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    Clients 5 GB, Server 10GB.

    Please see my sig for labs.
     
    Certifications: CCA | CCENT | CCNA | CCNA:S | HP APC | HP ASE | ITILv3 | MCP | MCDST | MCITP: EA | MCTS:Vista | MCTS:Exch '07 | MCSA 2003 | MCSA:M 2003 | MCSA 2008 | MCSE | VCP5-DT | VCP4-DCV | VCP5-DCV | VCAP5-DCA | VCAP5-DCD | VMTSP | VTSP 4 | VTSP 5
  13. greenbrucelee
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    greenbrucelee Zettabyte Poster

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    For my virtual setup I allow 20GB for each. It might seem a little ott but thats how I have done it:D
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCDST, Security+, 70-270
    WIP: 70-620 or 70-680?
  14. Big_nath

    Big_nath Kilobyte Poster

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    I use My laptop for my studt. I have 4GB Ram and so far it has been fine. I run VM workstation on Vista. I allocate 10GB to servers (except WSUS i allocate 35GB)
     
    Certifications: MCP, MCSA, MCSA:M, MCSE, MCTS
    WIP: A few
  15. John Neerdael

    John Neerdael Nibble Poster

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    Use as much as you want for hard drive storage, unless you allocate all diskspace now, which you shouldnt unless your clustering that hdd or so it wont use up more 'real' hdd space then it's using. So even if you set it to 500gb if your server only uses 3gb the virtual hdd will only be 3gb
     
    WIP: MCTS: 70-640

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