TestLab: Network Design

When creating a test environment, one needs to spend some time pondering the design in order to avoid potential problems.

One past networking issue I had was getting the internet into my labs without bleeding DHCP from my servers into my home network. I solved it in the past by installing the Microsoft Loopback adapter on my guests but this was not ideal. This was especially so when I moved over to VMware workstation and also wanted to use my test laptops in my SCCM testing. Remember, even if your lab is only designed to test server computing, you will still need to learn and configure the basics of networking. My new design will take care of past issues for me. This is how it looks:

Home LAN

You’ll see from previous posts that I’ve purchased a HP Microserver and installed VMware ESXi 5. I’ve also installed an extra NIC. The plan is to have NIC 0 as a management network so I can manage ESXi from my laptop using PowerCLI and the VMware vSphere Client.

In order to achieve the above configuration, within VMware ESX 5 I’ve configured the networking like so:


vSwitch0 is connected to my broadband router and home network. This will serve as a management network so I can WOL the host etc.

vSwitch1 is for guests and test machines only. It will talk to the internal LAN called collective.local and externally to the 2nd network card NIC 1. This will allow physical machines on my test network to receive DHCP and join the domain etc.

There will be 1 internal guest server (COL-Proxy01) that will have 2 network cards installed. Having 1 NIC in each network will allow it to act as a proxy server (Forefront TMG or Squid Virtual Appliance), bringing internet into the labs through vSwitch0 and serving it through vSwitch1. In future experiments I may later need to place COL-Proxy01 in the DMZ.

The end result now is that my test lab is completely isolated from my home network and I can manage and control my guest VM’s from the comfort of my laptop. I have the best of both worlds.


About Andrew Barnes

A Scripting and Deployment Specialist.
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