Virtualization Pro Tips Blog

You Can Learn vSphere, All on a $1000 Laptop.

In addition to writing, I regularly deliver custom vSphere training through my company Concentrated Technology.

I enjoy those engagements quite a bit.  They give me the opportunity to experience different VMware implementations in sizes that range from small business to enterprises.  I also specifically tailor each training engagement to what the client needs, so that they get exactly the knowledge transfer they need.

Yet a recurring problem of late has been in getting enough hardware through airports and hotels to represent vSphere with trainable performance.  With ESX's minimum memory at 2 GB per host, the need for two ESX server VMs plus a vCenter Server VM means lugging around two aging 4GB laptops.

Heavy.  Not fun.  Plenty of questioning looks from the TSA.

No more.  Today I made the decision to find faster and more powerful hardware that can support an entire multi-ESX lab on a single laptop.  I’m happy to report that I’ve found one for a very reasonable $1000 (technically, $1150 with tax).  I saved an extra $200 bucks by using a coupon code I found through a quick Internet search.

That laptop is an HP Pavilion dv6t Select Edition, equipped with an Intel Core i7-720QM Quad Core processor with 8GB DDR3 RAM and a surprising 7200RPM 500GB Hard Drive.  Intel Core i7 enjoy’s Intel’s virtualization extensions.  The 8GB RAM ensures that my multiple VMs run simultaneously.

(Full Disclosure:  I am not related to the HP organization in any way, nor have they asked me to say nice things about them.  I just particularly like this model!)

I share this information because I’ve talked with many IT professionals in my travels who also experience the same hardware limitation.  These guys and gals really want to educate themselves on vSphere’s technologies, but without the restrictions that come with doing so on production equipment.

If you’re among that surprisingly large group of people who’re looking for powerful but reasonably-priced hardware, take a look at the Pavilion.  My research found that its price to performance breakdown fit my needs perfectly.

Do you have a favorite laptop or desktop configuration for vSphere learning?  Share your hardware and price in the comment section below.

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