Home Lab

My Home Lab Setup

As I have progressed towards my goal of becoming a VCDX, I have found it absolutely essential to set up a home lab environment that I can use for all sorts of interesting experiments.  Additionally, because this is a home lab setup, all funding comes straight from my own wallet!

The goals for my home lab setup are:

  • Keep it relatively cheap!  I know from experience that most times you get what you pay for.  In my case, I wanted cheap, yet powerful.  I can sacrifice “nice-to-haves”, such as remote console access, some redundancy, etc.
  • Keep it functional.  What is the point of having a home lab environment if you cannot actually do anything with it?  I need to be able to fully test vSphere, vCloud Director, and possibly even Horizon functionality to gain extra familiarity with those products.
  • Keep it efficient.  After all, I am running this thing in my basement!  I need to use as little power as possible.  A quiet setup is nice too, as it keeps me out of trouble with my wife!  😉
  • Have fun!  I have always enjoyed tinkering with technology.  I want to make sure that the home lab setup experience also follows suit.  I do not want it to turn into a headache or a source of stress.

After researching my options, looking at other people’s home lab blog posts, and checking prices; I decided to take the plunge!

Parts List

2x  Case / Motherboard:  Shuttle SH67H3 Intel Core i7 / i5 / i3 (purchased from Newegg.com, found here)

2x  Processors:  Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz (purchased from Newegg.com, found here)

2x  RAM:  32GB (4 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) (purchased from Newegg.com, found here)

2x  NICs:  Intel EXPI9402PT PRO/1000 PT Dual Port Server Adapter (purchased from Newegg.com, found here)

1x  Network Switch:  Dell PowerConnect 5324; 24-port gigabit managed switch (found on eBay for ~$100)

1x  Shared Storage:  Synology Diskstation DS413 4-Bay NAS Server; provides NFS, iSCSI (found here)

2x  Hard Drives:  Western Digital 2 TB WD Red SATA 3.5″ NAS Hard Drive (found here)

Lab Environment

Once assembled, my lab environment consists of 2x ESXi 5.1 hosts, each with 8 processing cores and 32GB RAM.  This gives me enough power to fully nest ESXi within itself — opening the door for endless configuration possibilities.  I can test out vSphere, vCloud Director, Horizon / View, etc.  Sacrificing redundancy for power was well worth the tradeoff in my case.

This lab setup has helped me tremendously as I progressed through the VCAP exams.  I frequently use it to test out new technologies and VMware products.  As I progress towards the VCDX-DCV, my home lab will become indispensable.

Pictures coming soon!