Virtualization test lab tricks with SSDs

The best way to learn about VMware virtualization is to set up a good test lab. vExpert Rick Vanover shares two tricks that you can use with SSDs for personal lab functions.

In my Rickatron virtualization test lab, I have a capable, mainstream physical server and small SAN; I also make extensive use of the virtualized ESXi configuration. If I get the funds, I'll expand my virtualization test lab and add additional computer resources so I can test Hyper-V hosts. Unfortunately, Hyper-V doesn't support nested virtualization at this time.

The current practice for anyone who needs a mobile lab for their VMware virtual lab configurations is to use solid state disks (SSDs). The trick is to set up a tier of storage, even if it's on a laptop. This is ideally suited for laptops that have multiple drive bays. The primary drive would be where the operating system would run (presumably Windows or Mac OS X), and the secondary drive would be where the virtual machines would live. In the case of ESXi, the virtualized host only consumes a few GB of disk space.

Another trick (depending on your hypervisor) is to force the virtualized ESXi host to make the memory requirement run from the SSD (intentional swapping). This can be a boon to use the faster drive in favor of putting duress on the host system.

SSDs can be an affordable investment considering the amount functionality they offer. How have you used SSDs for virtualization lab storage? Let us know in the discussion.

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