I have begun my preparations for taking (and passing) the VCAP-DCA exam during the first quarter of 2015. I consider myself fortunate to work in an environment where there is hardware that I can utilize as a lab environment. However, looking at the blueprint for the VCAP-DCA test, I realized there are bits there that would be more difficult to test in that environment. As such, I started looking for a low-cost solution for creating a home lab to play with iSCSI, VMware Replication and other topics covered in the exam. After doing research on the internet, I decided to focus on the Intel NUC platform as the basis for the lab systems.

I posted to Twitter earlier in the week and I was able to get several good pieces of advice for where to look for understanding how to run ESXi on the Intel NUC platform. The best articles I read were written by @virten at virten.net. He has tested several of the Intel NUC generations and individual platforms.

The articles he wrote helped me make the decision to go with the Intel NUC for my home lab.

I am pretty excited to get these at the house and setup with ESXi. I will be running 3 of the 3rd Generation Intel NUCs with 16GB of RAM and a 32GB mSATA SSDs. I did not want to run a nested environment at the house — doing so has been tedious in the past — and the small form-factor and low-power consumption of the Intel NUCs seem perfect.

Beyond getting the home lab setup, I have also begun collecting links, blog posts and resources to help me study for the VCAP-DCA exam. There is a lot of great information online right now to help in the studies for the exam, for which I am really grateful for. I am looking forward to studying and preparing myself for the exam.

Nothing worth doing is easy, and I expect this to be a wonderful challenge. 2015 should be another great year both personally and professionally!