My home lab is really to help me learn the technology I am assisting customers with. I have used it to walk through VMware configuration steps & screens with a customer, write blog posts and as a place where I can break things without impacting anyone.
So far my CFO has been very understanding of the money and time I have invested. I try to be a good steward of that credit!
Current Home Lab ( Mark II )
This version of my lab has a Management node and Compute cluster.
Macbook Pro Retina (16gb RAM, 1 TB SSD) – VMware Fusion
- Ubiquiti Controller
This is a 3-node cluster running vSphere 6.7 & vSAN. Each host has:
- ASUS H110M-A/M.2 motherboard
- Intel Core I-5 7400 CPUs
- 32 GB RAM
- Intel Corporation 82571EB 1GB NICs
- Core Switch – Dell PowerEdge 6248
- Firewall – Ubiquiti Edge Gateway 3P
- Wifi – Ubiquiti AP-AC-LR (x2)
vSAN – Hybrid
- Cache Device – SATA Consumer Grade SSD
- Capacity Device – SATA 1 TB spinning disk
NFS – Synology DS1512+
- Seagate IronWolf – 4TB (x3) – capacity
- Samsung 128GB SSD (x2) – read/write cache
- vRealize Operations Manager
- vRealize Log Insight
- Linux Jumphost
- Veeam Backup & Replication Community Edition – Veeam continues to be an excellent product! I am very thankful to Veeam for keeping a free edition of their product for vExperts and IT Pros to learn with.
- Using the Macbook Pro as a management node may seem like an unconventional choice. The display on the MBP doesn’t work so it was easily & cheaply available. It has a built-in UPS, and KVM with the external monitor as well as easy remote access. Most importantly – it is very easy for my family to power it back on after a power outage if I am away!
- The drives and controller in use for vSAN are not on the compatibility guide. I knew this going in. It does work well for what I need to do. The next generation of the lab will hopefully address this.
Home Lab .NEXT
I have begun thinking of how to grow the lab. 96gb of RAM may seem like a lot; but a number of technologies that I want to learn (vRealize Automation, containers) can quickly consume what I have. I have a lot of evaluation and thinking to do. Some items on my list to puzzle over
- MicroTik has an affordable 4-port 10gb SFP-based switch. They have an 8 port too!
- If I can stick with the motherboards I have, I will hopefully use the on-board NVME slot and add a PCI-E NVME card for vSAN.
- I have resisted going the route of used Enterprise gear. This is mostly due to the noise/power factor. However if I have to rebuild my white-boxes significantly it may be more cost effective to go that route (A single large host that I can use to nest environments may be a good option)
Mark I – This was a single host (core i-7 and 24 gb of ram). It served me quite well running vSphere for about 4 years. It is still running to this day – as a desktop computer in my office.