Home Lab

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.

Management Node

Macbook Pro Retina (16gb RAM, 1 TB SSD) – VMware Fusion

    • vCenter
    • DNS/DHCP
    • Ubiquiti Controller


Compute Cluster

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
  • Plex

Other Applications


  • 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)


Previous Generations

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.