Questions on Homelab setup


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I wish to build a new HOMELAB. Here is a guide and many others I found on Reddit.
- How is your lab setup? What would you recommend? Main virtualisation solution would be VMware (would need multiple hosts here). I would also have HyperV and Proxmox VE within this environment. Yes, this is possible!

I have got my ideas, but would like to learn from you. Keep in mind, I need a cost effective solution ranging from hardware to Power etc. Here is a talking point but just talking about the installation. I do NOT need help with the setup (deployment) tips as this is a walkthrough for me. Just ideas on how to setup low a cost effective lab, but yet a Lab to be reckoned with.

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62 comments

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#Humblebrag

The current work lab…..also looks nicer than a lot of productions environments I’ve seen.  But alas...it needs some reworking as it gets updated to version 2.  The pics are a bit Veeam off topic, but that HP behind the monitor is the box running the VBR/VDRO VM’s, and there’s proxies in the ESXI cluster to keep it Veeam related.

 

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Hi!

 

So, the beauty of a home lab is, you can adjust to exactly what you need.

 

I had a 24x7 media server at home that I actually P2V’d yesterday with Veeam Agent, and installed onto ESXi, I’ve had no increase in power consumption, because the server was on all the time. But the benefit? Rather than it running VMware Workstarion and having 1st class & 2nd class workloads (AKA, poor performance on workstation relative to anything running native on Windows), now it’s all equally distributed. I’m using this host for my 24x7 needs: firewall & VPN, Wifi controller, and media server, gonna move my VB365 VM onto ESXi too next weekend.

 

So that’s my 24x7 host, spec’d as a quad core with 16GB RAM and SSD storage.

 

Then I have my extra 2x hosts that I power on when I need them for my lab. These are quad core with 32GB RAM but only traditional HDDs as they’re HPE and if you use aftermarket disks with HPE the fans go constant 100% spin speed.

 

This way I can leverage iLO to power on my extra hosts if/when I need them, even if I’m working away from home. But this way I don’t have a dramatic power bill.

 

I’ve seen some great options with labs recently and there’s a great 2nd hand market to get recent generation tech for £1-2k that is powerful enough you only need the one host. But I would suggest if you consolidate and are thinking of nested ESXi/Hyper-V etc then you need to consider the power draw of that server, will it be running 24x7 and wasting a ton of power & cooling idly.

 

Also worth checking out are the workstation class machines from Dell/HPE etc. These are missing some features such as iDRAC normally depending on vendor, but they’re far more compact normally and can still get dual socket with hundreds of GBs of RAM and more desktop class SSD/NVMe (a lot cheaper!).

 

Another approach can be with lower power/compact devices such as Intel NUC(s), it’s quite common to have a 3-4 node cluster of NUCs, their main limitation being direct attached storage options and add-in card support, but I see a lot of people use a reputable brand NAS such as Synology or QNAP and present some shared storage to the nodes that way.

 

Another consideration will be licensing. You’re not gonna want to purchase full retail VMware licensing for a lab. But you’d either be stuck reinstalling ESXi every 60 days for a trial license, or using the free version that doesn’t support any API access for backups, cluster support etc. I’d suggest either the VMware vExpert program if you’re accepted to get NFR Licenses, alternatively there’s the VMUG Advantage program. Both scenarios give you licenses valid for a year, VMUG Advantage costs money, normally $200 a year, but there are times you can get a license at a discount. Well known VMware employee William Lam is currently organising a group purchase which should be approx $170 instead, otherwise VMware have typically done discounts around VMware World events etc. This program also includes discounts on training & exams amongst the perks. Link here: https://williamlam.com/2022/06/2022-vmug-advantage-community-group-buy.html

 

Hope this helps! Happy to answer any Q’s 🙂

Hi there,
For my home lab, I virtualized everything into a HP gen 8 server, located in a warhouse near my house, and inside I run my base vms, like DC, files, etc… and also inside I have two esxi hosts running as a cluster, and a Veeam B&R machine as a Backup server.

Im running an article to describe better my lab, and if was less than 600€, and electricity consumption is ok.

for licenses, I belong to the vmug advanced program, so I have access to them, and also to the Veeam NFB licenses as well.

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Hi All,

Im very new to Veeam so i would like to apologize for the questions.

I recently bought a laptop. Yes, not a server. The specs are Ryzen 7 Pro 5950u with 8 core, 16 threads, 1TB SSD, and 48gb ram. 

 

I am planning to create my homelab prior to my VMCE training this coming end of October 2022. Will i be able to do it with a laptop? I dont have servers with me and im really new to VMWare and other things so i wanted to know if i can do it in the laptop or i am just wasting time trying to replicate a home lab there. I hope you can enlighten me.


Regards,

Sean

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Hi Sean,
your laptop should work for the Veeam server.
https://helpcenter.veeam.com/docs/backup/vsphere/system_requirements.html?ver=110
But for replication you will need at least a second ESXi Host (or a cluster). Perhaps you can do some nested VMware installation….

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Hey! Absolutely you can! Here’s how I did it:

 

You’ll want to use a ‘daily driver’ OS for the laptop I imagine, as you won’t get any guarantees of supported hardware if you ran ESXi or Hyper-V natively on it. Windows or Linux doesn’t really matter.

 

Depending on Windows or Linux you’ve got some options, these will be ‘type-2’ Hypervisors in that, they’ll run on top of your OS, performance won’t be as good, but I doubt you’ll see any major bottlenecks here.

If you’re using Windows, you can install VMware Workstation, OR, Hyper-V, or even something like VirtualBox. On Linux you won’t have the Hyper-V option but the other options remain.

 

Now, you won’t be using Veeam to interact with these, instead you’ll be using nested virtualisation to run a supported Hypervisor within Workstation/Windows 10 Hyper-V/VirtualBox. Why you might ask? Because Veeam needs to leverage APIs to interact with a host for VM processing. The two main hypervisors that Veeam supports are ESXi and Microsoft Hyper-V. Now the complicated part: You’ll need to enable exposing virtualisation capabilities to your VM within whichever type-2 hypervisor you chose (Workstation/Windows 10 Hyper-V/VirtualBox), there are different ways of doing this depending on the application you choose to use, but they’re only a google search away, or state here what you’re planning to use and we can hopefully point you in the right direction.

 

Once you’ve deployed a virtual hypervisor such as ESXi or Hyper-V into your type-2 hypervisor, you can then either deploy a Veeam VM within your virtual hypervisor, or within your type-2. Your only networking requirements are that you create a bridged network between your host (laptop), your other VMs, and your virtual hypervisor.

 

Now onto some specifics:

ESXi free edition doesn’t provide the APIs required to backup data, either use a trial, or NFR key if possible to license this, you don’t actually need vCenter, just a licensed ESXi.

 

Fun fact: Your laptop is more powerful than the PC I used for my lab when I was studying my VMCE, it’s a quad core with 32GB RAM and I still achieved what you’re trying to do.

 

So, hopefully this helps you get started, and I’ll do my best to answer any questions I can to get you going!

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I’d also add 2 more thoughts to this.

 

My “Lab” quickly became “PROD” in my house, running home assistant, IP Cameras etc. This seems to happen to many of us.

 

Servers take a while to boot. Make sure to get a UPS, or something that can boot fast. There is nothing quite like haivng the power go out for 1 second, and waiting for a server, ESXI, Then a windows DC, then Home Assistant to turn on before you can have lights.   The sequence was automated, but took 5-10 minutes. Same goes for a TV restarting vs missing 10 minutes of a show because you are waiting on the DHCP server/DC to boot.

 

To add to that, once it becomes “Home PROD” as I like to call it, fan noise is pretty annoying 24 hours a day if the server is in your house.  I switched to a NUC for my Home Assistant due to low power and no fans. Removed a few of the 48 port PoE switches and replaced them with PoE injectors upstairs. 

 

I still have my monster server, but only power it on when I need. I also don’t have my house relying on AD with a DC anymore haha. 

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Hey! Absolutely you can! Here’s how I did it:

 

You’ll want to use a ‘daily driver’ OS for the laptop I imagine, as you won’t get any guarantees of supported hardware if you ran ESXi or Hyper-V natively on it. Windows or Linux doesn’t really matter.

 

Depending on Windows or Linux you’ve got some options, these will be ‘type-2’ Hypervisors in that, they’ll run on top of your OS, performance won’t be as good, but I doubt you’ll see any major bottlenecks here.

If you’re using Windows, you can install VMware Workstation, OR, Hyper-V, or even something like VirtualBox. On Linux you won’t have the Hyper-V option but the other options remain.

 

Now, you won’t be using Veeam to interact with these, instead you’ll be using nested virtualisation to run a supported Hypervisor within Workstation/Windows 10 Hyper-V/VirtualBox. Why you might ask? Because Veeam needs to leverage APIs to interact with a host for VM processing. The two main hypervisors that Veeam supports are ESXi and Microsoft Hyper-V. Now the complicated part: You’ll need to enable exposing virtualisation capabilities to your VM within whichever type-2 hypervisor you chose (Workstation/Windows 10 Hyper-V/VirtualBox), there are different ways of doing this depending on the application you choose to use, but they’re only a google search away, or state here what you’re planning to use and we can hopefully point you in the right direction.

 

Once you’ve deployed a virtual hypervisor such as ESXi or Hyper-V into your type-2 hypervisor, you can then either deploy a Veeam VM within your virtual hypervisor, or within your type-2. Your only networking requirements are that you create a bridged network between your host (laptop), your other VMs, and your virtual hypervisor.

 

Now onto some specifics:

ESXi free edition doesn’t provide the APIs required to backup data, either use a trial, or NFR key if possible to license this, you don’t actually need vCenter, just a licensed ESXi.

 

Fun fact: Your laptop is more powerful than the PC I used for my lab when I was studying my VMCE, it’s a quad core with 32GB RAM and I still achieved what you’re trying to do.

 

So, hopefully this helps you get started, and I’ll do my best to answer any questions I can to get you going!

Good points! You may have to enable virtualization in the BIOS if it hasn’t already been enabled. I would recommend VMware Workstation and not the player or VirtualBox! This will help should in case you ever run into this issue: https://techdirectarchive.com/2022/02/07/enable-virtualization-in-bios-determine-if-the-intel-vt-x-or-amd-v-virtualization-technology-is-enabled-in-bios/

 

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For avoiding networking issues, I normally virtualize a pfsense or OPNsense and NAT the “external” network, and then I start deploying host only networks or NAT networks, keeping them separated from the Bridge network, so I don't get any dependency on the local “real”nics and the IP ranges.

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Funny how this came up...last weekend I finally got around to installing a 20amp circuit in my garage so I could use a Tripp-Lite 2000VA UPS that I had laying around and got most of my gear plugged into it.  I had planned on sharing, so now seems as good time as any to post some pictures.  The homelab is pretty crude as it sits on top of a refrigerator in my garage and is subjected to extreme hot and extreme cold temperatures and humidity (and lack thereof).  But it gets the job done and really this hardware is solid.  The R610 that this R520 replaced ran for 3 or 4 years after it was retired from my client’s site, so in all, it was finally about 10 or 11 years old when it let out the magic smoke. 

Please don’t mind the disaster that is my garage…..I’ve learned that if you have a lot of space, you keep a lot of crap.

 

Homelab on top of the garage fridge.  Tripp-Lite 2000VA UPS, Dell PowerEdge R520 running VMware ESXi 8.0, Extreme Summit 1Gb POE 48-port switch, Ubiquiti Unified Security Gateway Pro, Synology 2-bay NAS connected via NFS for primary Veeam repository.  The CenturyLink Zyxel DSL Modem/Fiber router is a cold spare in case the Ubiquiti USG fails.  Onkyo receiver on top of everything is used to power some outdoor speakers in the back yard and indoor speakers in the garage and audio signal is supplied by a Google ChromeCast audio.

 

Side-view of the home lab with VMware ESXi 8.0 console on the monitor.

 

Rear view of the homelab equipment with a Geist PDU and and the newly installed 20amp circuit on the ceiling to power the UPS.

 

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Very detailled answer. 😀 And it answered my question about VMware license options, too… 😎

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My “home lab” consists currently of a standalone PowerEdge R520 hand-me-down running ESXI 7.0 U3.  It’s running a few VM’s, and it’s somewhat used as a second site.  Previously it was an R610 that recently kicked the can.  Prior to that it was an IBM x3550 M2 and a x3650.  I have a Synology DS218+ as a backup repo and am running an Extreme Networks Summit 48 Port POE switch with a Ubiquiti USG Pro for the firewall, and AC Pro AP (need to expand my wireless). VM’s include a management/utility server (runs the Ubiquiti management app), VBR 11a, VBO, Pi-Hole, and a NVR (Milestone) for my older POE camera’s (Hikvision among others).  It’s all small and really more than I need for home use.  My time an energy, when I can find it, is dedicated to my “work lab”.

My work lab consists of 6 PowerEdge R610’s running ESXI 6.7 (one died, I have three more in another room not in use).  They are using an Equallogic PS6000 for shared storage through two Dell PowerConnect 6248 switches in a stack.  I’m using an old ASA5505 for the firewall.  My lab network extends to another rack in a separate room where I perform staging of client equipment and is interconnected with an Adtran NetVanta 1534 switch. There is a HP Z520 workstation with an added RAID card and drives that is running ESXI as well.  It has 2 VM’s, one running VBR 11a to backup the lab VM’s, and the other is slated for VDRO but I haven’t had a chance to set it up.  There is an APC 3000 VA UPS running things (currently I get about 7 minutes of runtime, but that’s good enough for power blinks).  VMware and Veeam are both NFR licenses for the lab environment.  I also have a couple R410’s laying around but they’re quite light on power so they’re not used.  All VM’s are Server 2016 or Server 2019 with a full domain.  I have more infrastructure here than most of my clients, but it has been proven to be handy multiple times.

Future plans for the work lab are to upgrade the SAN to a PS6210e that is already racked, and replacing the hosts with two R720’s, and an R820 that I have (once one of the R720’s returns from a client site).  I’m also in the process of replacing two R720’s in production with R730’s which should free up two more R720’s for lab use.  The lab will be upgraded to the latest build of ESXI 7.0 U3 as well although I might setup two of the R720’s into a Hyper-V failover cluster.  I was going to do AHV (Nutanix) at one point, but it’s less common for me and I’m starting to see more customers with Hyper-V, so labbing up that would be a better use of resources for me.

Your lab is what you make it, and that is often based on what you need and what you can get or afford.  I’m a bit of a scavenger as you can probably see.  Older servers tend to still have some life in them, parts may be easier to find if you have extra cold spares, etc.  However, they often come at the cost of inefficiency as well.  Some older servers are quite power hungry and can generate significant heat.  For me, the most important items are determining what the goals of the lab environment are and building around that.  Also need to have flexibility and versatility in the lab so that you can spin up whatever it is that you want or need to run without rebuilding everything.  Many folks get away with running on older workstations, NOC’s, Raspberry Pi’s, etc.  Seems like a lot of folks like to run Proxmox.  I’ve never dealt with it, but the little bit I’ve heard, I’m not sure why I at least would when I have perfectly good VMware.  I’ve never seen Proxmox running in a production environment, so it makes no sense to me to run it.  In a true home lab though, if you just need something to run your infrastructure, it might make sense, but if I need to emulate an actual production environment, it’s best to run a similar to production as possible.

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Pack up your things everyone, think @dloseke won’t be beaten on this! haha. That’s a nice setup there!

Off topic but as you mentioned Ubiquiti:

I was thinking of whether or not to get a USG-Pro as I’ve got their WiFi 6 APs, my non 24x7 lab was running the VM whenever I’d boot it to check for updates etc, but I was clearly missing out on some of the other softer benefits too, I thought the USG-Pro could be handy for managing that as an added bonus of the device. I’m moving home shortly and due to get 1Gbps internet, hence the looking at USG-Pro. In the end I decided that my 24x7 ESXi server is powerful enough to process 1Gbps of traffic with IDS/IPS rules, so I put a new Intel X540-T2 card in for future growth up to 10Gbps for LAN & WAN, and am now running PfSense on that. So I have created an Ubuntu VM with Ubiquiti’s management software on there instead with some of the spare host resources 😆

 

I wouldn’t buy a USG personally.  It was given to me but I don’t love it either.  I have an old WatchGuard that I flashed with PfSense a couple years ago that I suspect I could reflash with OPNsense.  Just don’t have much time for that at home. I will say that I have 1Gb Internet and it works great for me, but it actually has messages about it reducing throughput when you have more of the IDS and other advanced features turned on, I believe due to increased processor load, but for home use, it hasn’t been an issue.  But I originally ran into some issues with stability and had to search for what features I had to turn on/off to make it work that didn’t make a ton of sense.

Some of the Ubiquiti is prosumer at best.  Their AP’s, point to point wireless and I’ve been told switches are pretty good.  The security products…..not sold on it.  There’s a lot of folks that feel like every firmware release is a beta test.  Looking in forums or Reddit, there’s a lot of talk of certain firmware releases that are stable, and then certain features missing in the next version, back in the one after that, etc.  I would never recommend them for business use although I do have a couple clients using their AP’s, but we go to Ruckus or Meraki for that.

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Another comment to make, be sure that your CPU generation is supported on ESXi 7.0, the older versions of ESXi are all EoL in October. If you’re investing in a lab, you want to know that you can keep up with the latest software that your customers should be running 🙂

For lab environment, I’m not as concerned about being *supported* on my proc (also note that some models of storage adapters and network cards are deprecated under certain versions of ESXI and will not show up as those builds lack the proper drivers).  For instance, ESXI 7 is not *supported* on Dell 11th and 12th Gen hardware.  HOWEVER, it will run provided your firmware is up to date.  Just don’t expect support.  In my case, I don’t have support anyway, as this is NFR licensed gear.

Understandable that it’s not always possible to achieve compatibility, I tend not to care about the CPU itself being certified, for example my 24x7 server is an Intel Core T series processor, for its low power consumption at a respectable frequency, but I absolutely want the architecture supported as otherwise it’s certainly possible that ESXi would go to utilise instruction sets not supported on the processor anymore, it’s a limited and specific scenario, but as someone that has had their fingers burned with Broadcom not supporting RSS triggering a PSOD on 6.7, I try to maintain compliance with such things.

 

It’s all a game of calculated risk though when you’re home labbing anyway!

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#Humblebrag

The current work lab…..also looks nicer than a lot of productions environments I’ve seen.  But alas...it needs some reworking as it gets updated to version 2.  The pics are a bit Veeam off topic, but that HP behind the monitor is the box running the VBR/VDRO VM’s, and there’s proxies in the ESXI cluster to keep it Veeam related.

 

That is one sweet setup!

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Throwing this out there, but would having a cloud based lab be considered a home lab?

Especially with the option to automate deployment of an environment and the ability to quickly re-create it again. Suppose, one disadvantage is not having access to the underlying hardware to tinker on. 

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Throwing this out there, but would having a cloud based lab be considered a home lab?

Especially with the option to automate deployment of an environment and the ability to quickly re-create it again. Suppose, one disadvantage is not having access to the underlying hardware to tinker on. 

I think that it’s almost a requirement.  I mean, you see the likes of Rick Vanover and Anthony Spiteri run labs that I think span both premise and cloud.  For sure they have to have cloud to spin up labs for cloud-base products, etc.  I mean, it’s not all of the sexiness of running hardware in your own datacenter, but for the purposes of learning and testing, I suppose it’s pretty much a requirement.  In fact, the other day I was looking for free/NFR versions of Azure to do some testing of cloud-based services as well as extending to object storage in Blob, etc.

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Throwing this out there, but would having a cloud based lab be considered a home lab?

Especially with the option to automate deployment of an environment and the ability to quickly re-create it again. Suppose, one disadvantage is not having access to the underlying hardware to tinker on. 

I think that it’s almost a requirement.  I mean, you see the likes of Rick Vanover and Anthony Spiteri run labs that I think span both premise and cloud.  For sure they have to have cloud to spin up labs for cloud-base products, etc.  I mean, it’s not all of the sexiness of running hardware in your own datacenter, but for the purposes of learning and testing, I suppose it’s pretty much a requirement.  In fact, the other day I was looking for free/NFR versions of Azure to do some testing of cloud-based services as well as extending to object storage in Blob, etc.

Don’t know how you fared in your search, but if your org has an MSDN subscription, you should be able to get Azure Dev credits of around $150 per month (converted to your local currency if outside of the US). There’s some restrictions on what regions you can access certain resources, primarily where resource is more constrained, but it’s great.

 

Thanks, I’ll check into that.  We don’t have MSDN right now but it wouldn’t hurt us any.  I know we get some Azure credits from our partnership, but I don’t know how much nor do I know how much we’re using them at the moment.  But thanks!

 

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Throwing this out there, but would having a cloud based lab be considered a home lab?

Especially with the option to automate deployment of an environment and the ability to quickly re-create it again. Suppose, one disadvantage is not having access to the underlying hardware to tinker on. 

I think that it’s almost a requirement.  I mean, you see the likes of Rick Vanover and Anthony Spiteri run labs that I think span both premise and cloud.  For sure they have to have cloud to spin up labs for cloud-base products, etc.  I mean, it’s not all of the sexiness of running hardware in your own datacenter, but for the purposes of learning and testing, I suppose it’s pretty much a requirement.  In fact, the other day I was looking for free/NFR versions of Azure to do some testing of cloud-based services as well as extending to object storage in Blob, etc.

Definitely, and having an on-prem physical lab brings it’s on intricacies but also ‘tinkerability’ with it so I’d say a physical lab definitely count and a cloud based version can be an extension of the lab. A hybrid-lab if you will.

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Hi All,

Im very new to Veeam so i would like to apologize for the questions.

I recently bought a laptop. Yes, not a server. The specs are Ryzen 7 Pro 5950u with 8 core, 16 threads, 1TB SSD, and 48gb ram. 

 

I am planning to create my homelab prior to my VMCE training this coming end of October 2022. Will i be able to do it with a laptop? I dont have servers with me and im really new to VMWare and other things so i wanted to know if i can do it in the laptop or i am just wasting time trying to replicate a home lab there. I hope you can enlighten me.


Regards,

Sean

Hi Sean,

Aligned with @MicoolPaul My first lab is my “Labtop” portable and powerful enough to run some stuff

I have a MacBook Pro 15 with i7 six core and 32GB of ram
I have installed VMware workstation, and nested 2 VMware hosts, vcenter, dns and shared storage, all virtualized into the laptop.

Just keep in mind that you will be “eating” the SSD!

If you need any help, do not hesitate to contact me to give you some advice or give you a hand setting up the lab!

cheers.

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I just got the opportunity to grab several HP Gen9’s with about 512GB of memory each.

Cheap home lab approved, (no cost) but the power bill and fan noise may not be worth it.  They run between 170-230 watts average, so 500watts will average about $40 a month where I live.

 

I think i’ll keep a second as a spare powered down. I also have the opportunity to grab a pretty large SAN, but I’ll most likely decline as the power draw is really overkill for my homelab. 

 

I’ll keep the NUC for home assistant, cameras, and things that run 24/7. I think the second ESXI lab will only get powered on for test purposes to keep costs down.    With my work lab being so powerful, i find my homelab getting used less and less these days. 

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Good points! You may have to enable virtualization in the BIOS if it hasn’t already been enabled. I would recommend VMware Workstation and not the player or VirtualBox! This will help should in case you ever run into this issue: https://techdirectarchive.com/2022/02/07/enable-virtualization-in-bios-determine-if-the-intel-vt-x-or-amd-v-virtualization-technology-is-enabled-in-bios/

 

Yes, im going ahead with VMWare Workstation 16. :) Thank you for the link! I was able to install and set it up. Does that mean i can skip this step?

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Cheap home lab approved, (no cost) but the power bill and fan noise may not be worth it.  

 

One things I hate about HPE (among a few things) is that if you put a non-HPE branded/approved component, all of the fans will run full out on the server.  This included NIC’s and I think memory...not sure about disks.  If you want to keep it quiet, you need to stick with HPE components.

 

I think i’ll keep a second as a spare powered down. I also have the opportunity to grab a pretty large SAN, but I’ll most likely decline as the power draw is really overkill for my homelab. 

 

This is a good plan.  I have a spare host as well since I don’t have a need - though I’m toying with the idea of loading the Linux Hardened Repo on an old Dell R610 I have with a crappy RAID controller that has no cache memory.  But it seems like overkill for home since I have a copy of my data going to Wasabi which is immutable.

 

I’ll keep the NUC for home assistant, cameras, and things that run 24/7. I think the second ESXI lab will only get powered on for test purposes to keep costs down.    With my work lab being so powerful, i find my homelab getting used less and less these days. 

This is what I have going on as well….my work lab has a lot of stuff going on, and is ready to be refreshed when I can find the time, but I don’t need much running at home.

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Nice.   Previously I had a set of FC switches and a small SAN.  The opportunity I have now is infract an SSD SAN. I think I might actualy jump on it the more I think about it. I don’t know that many people that have 200TB at home worth of SSD.  I’ll connect it to my home assistant to monitor power maybe and do a blog post about power consumption and why owning too much storage is less efficient than the cloud or something haha. 

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Pack up your things everyone, think @dloseke won’t be beaten on this! haha. That’s a nice setup there!

Off topic but as you mentioned Ubiquiti:

I was thinking of whether or not to get a USG-Pro as I’ve got their WiFi 6 APs, my non 24x7 lab was running the VM whenever I’d boot it to check for updates etc, but I was clearly missing out on some of the other softer benefits too, I thought the USG-Pro could be handy for managing that as an added bonus of the device. I’m moving home shortly and due to get 1Gbps internet, hence the looking at USG-Pro. In the end I decided that my 24x7 ESXi server is powerful enough to process 1Gbps of traffic with IDS/IPS rules, so I put a new Intel X540-T2 card in for future growth up to 10Gbps for LAN & WAN, and am now running PfSense on that. So I have created an Ubuntu VM with Ubiquiti’s management software on there instead with some of the spare host resources 😆

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