My first home lab is finally here!

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VILab - My first home lab is finally here!

In my quest to build a home lab I’ve been using a number of computers or servers and VMware Workstation to build and test things for years.  The problem almost always comes down to not enough resources to really test infrastructure components the way I want to.  I’ve been researching ways to make it happen for quite a while.  There are many options to consider from NUCs to building white box servers, all with varying degrees of resources and capabilities.  The pricing for those solutions also varies widely.  For whatever reason I never got very far trying to put one together that I was happy with.  I made a list for reference to detail what I was looking to accomplish.

My Home Lab Checklist

  • A solution that would be as close to a small customer environment as possible
  • Enough RAM scalability to deploy 30-60 VM’s
  • Enough CPU scalability to deploy 30-60 VM’s
  • Multiple physical servers to utilize vMotion, HA, FT, etc.
  • Ability to run vSphere 6.5 and up
  • iSCSI based storage
  • 1GB networking (Would love to do 10GB but it’s a bit out there right now.  Perhaps a future upgrade)

I happened across a really good deal for 2 servers and a switch recently.  The combination of that and the other components I already had was too good to pass up.  I was then able to check off most of the items on my list and here’s what I ended up with.

VILab Components

  • Internet – 300 Mbps down, 20 Mbps Up
  • Cisco ASA 5510
  • Cisco Catalyst 3560G – 24 Port – IP Routing, VLANs for different components, Ports trunked to hosts
  • 2 x Dell R710 each with Dual Intel Xeon E5640, 2.66Ghz, 4-Core CPU, 96GB RAM, Dual Quad Port 1GB NICs (8 total)
  • Western Digital DL4100, 16TB (4 x 4TB) – NAS, iSCSI
  • Linksys EA4500 Wireless Router

I also put together a quick Visio to show it logically.

VILab - My first home lab is finally here!

So there it is.  I’ve got the hardware all connected and ESXi 6.5 loaded on both hosts.  Over the next few months I’ll be building vCenter, NSX, vROPs, vRealize Log Insight, Horizon, AD, Exchange, SharePoint, Veeam and much more.  I’m working on getting a half rack or smaller since I don’t think a full rack would fit in my basement and I don’t really need that much rack space right now.  It’s always going to be a work in progress I’m sure so we’ll see what I end up with and I’ll update my progress here.  I’m definitely going to be more able to build and test things I’ll be posting about here and this will give me a great test bed to get started on studying for VCAP6-DCV Design and Deploy.

2 thoughts on “My first home lab is finally here!

  1. JW

    Are you able to run ESXi 6.5 on your Dell R710 without issue ? They don’t appear to be on the 6.5 HCL/ I was considering going with those but this has scared me off.

    1. Shawn Post author

      Yes I’m running 6.5 on them now without any issues. VMware has warned that future releases post 6.5 may not be compatible with older processor architectures, but for now they still seem to be working fine.


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