HOMELAB

I use my homelab to practice all kinds of setups; all tutorials, manuals and studies for VMware certification are done and made within the homelab. What started off with 2 hosts and 32GB memory soon turned into an environment where I could do virtually anything.
In my eyes, having the homelab enables me to develop myself much better than without, it’s a crucial part of me as an IT pro.

Resources

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Servers


Networking


Miscellaneous

  • The R720XD is the main and only always on server. It’s used for all continuously running services like vCenter, AD, VIC and DNS. It has 14 slots, of which 12 LFF in front and 2 SFF in the back.

    • 2x Intel Xeon E5-2630L @ 2.00GHz
    • 192GB memory (24x 8GB)
    • 2x 10Gb/s SFP+
    • 4x 6TB Nearline SAS (RAID 5)
    • 4x 500GB Samsung SSD (RAID10)
    • 1x 120GB Intel DC SSD for caching
  • The R610 Host 1 is the first server built in the homelab together with Host 2. Bought together in an auction.
    Host 1 is not always on and serves the actual lab environment, mainly consuming storage from Host 0 over the network.

    • 2x Intel Xeon L5640 @ 2.27GHz
    • 112GB memory (10x 8GB + 2x 16GB)
    • 1x 10Gb/s SFP+
    • 4x 600GB SAS (RAID 10)
    • 2x 300GB SAS (RAID1)
  • The R610 Host 2 is the first server built in the homelab together with Host 1. Bought together in an auction.
    Host 2 is not always on and serves the actual lab environment, mainly consuming storage from Host 0 over the network.
    I still need to replace the CPU to be the same as Host 1

    • 2x Intel Xeon E5620 @ 2.40GHz
    • 96GB memory (12x 8GB )
    • 1x 10Gb/s SFP+
  • The R610 Spare is the same as the 2 other R610’s except for not being enterprise ready, there is no iDRAC and is the simplest version of all. Being part of the same auction deal, this chassis is purely for spare parts and has never ran inside the homelab.

    • 2x Intel Xeon E5620 @ 2.40GHz
    • 0GB memory (12x 8GB )
    • 4x 1GbE
  • The Fortigate 30D is the main gateway to the house and directly connected to the internet. Although an old and not very beefy model, it’s good enough to pump 500Mb/s through it and run all services I need like routing and VPN.

    • Main gateway and firewall
    • VLAN segmentation
    • OSPF and BGP routing
    • NAT
    • VPN for remote access
  • The TP-Link switch was an attempt to find a reasonably priced 10Gb/s SFP+ capable managed switch. Although pestered with some bugs (none showstopping), the switch accepts DAC cables and SFP’s of different brands, which is great. It connects Host 0, 1 and 2 based on SFP+. Next to that it’s capable of jumbo frames.

    • 24x 1Gb/s Ethernet RJ45 port
    • 4x 10Gb/s SFP+ port
    • Managed L2 switch
    • Jumbo frame support
  • At my previous job we used ZyXEL as all our main networking devices at small companies. Almost anything you need in a switch for a small pricetag, this 8 port PoE is no difference. This switch is one of the few switches in the world that does¬†passive cooled PoE, that means, no fan noise! Next to that, it’s managed and also supports jumbo frames.

    • 8x 1Gb/s Ethernet RJ45 port
    • All ports PoE+ capable
    • Fanless
    • Managed L2 switch
    • Jumbo frame support
  • All WiFi in the house and lab has been replaced by Aerohive devices. For the homelab, an AP122 is installed, connected to the ZyXEL PoE switch for power.
    Aerohive has a great platform with the Hivemanager and very nice enterprise options for WiFi. One of the best things is the PPSK, a personal code for every device or person, allowing granularity to the max. Unfortunately, this all comes at quite a cost for a “hobby” homelab.

    • 2×2:2 MIMO AC
    • Hivemanager full management suite
    • PPSK support
    • BLE beacon support
    • IoT prepared
  • All harware is located inside a small rack. This rack is a 14U full size (depth) server rack. It’s quite hard to find a fitting rack when working with full size servers in a small space. Fortunately I found this used rack for a reasonable price, although I’d rather have a DELL logo on it, because I like DELL servers.

    • 14U rack
    • Full server length supported
    • Wheels to push it around
    • Mesh front and back door
  • To make sure all devices are properly powered, there are 2 separate phases going to the rack. One for active power and one for redundant power in case active power fails.

    • 2x 16A dedicated power
    • 230V set-up
    • Mainly powered by solar
  • To make sure all equipment doesn’t get fried or instantly get killed due to a power outage, an APC UPS is available, it might be a bit overkill for just a single server continuously running, but it does make sure it stays healthy. In the end, it’s a lot of expensive equipment for an individual to run.

    • 3000VA
    • 2U rackmodel
    • Ethernet interface
    • Estimated run-time: 1 hour

Software

vmware
NSX

NSX-V and NSX-T

On top server virtualization, in my opinion the most interesting product I’m working with is NSX. NSX is the network virtualization layer. Next gen security using microsegmentation and 3rd party services. Above all, a complete virtual networking toolset. Both NSX-V and NSX-T are deployed in the homelab.

vic

vSphere Integrated Containers

VIC is a great addition for running Containers directly on vSphere. Using persistent storage on vSphere datastores and at the same time using the well known Docker commands to control your environment. Comes packed with Harbor and Admiral for a complete set managing your projects, repositories and containers.

ESXi

ESXi 6.7

I use ESXi as the main virtualization OS, also called the Hypervisor. You can run ESXi for free with limited options, I run ESXi within vSphere under Enterprise Plus license for all options.
ESXi 6.7 is installed on all hosts in the homelab.

vSphere

vSphere

All ESXi hosts are connected within the vSphere suite through vCenter Server. The vCenter Server in the homelab is running in embedded mode as an appliance. Running with vCenter allows the full feature set and unleash the true power of VMware.

Monitoring

grafana

Grafana Dashboard

To monitor all ESXi servers, VM’s, networking equipment and other non-homelab devices I use Grafana to build dashboards and convert collected data from InfluxDB into human readable graphs and counters. It’s easy to start with and it looks amazing!

influxdata

Influxdata TICK-stack

Before I can make nice graphs and see what’s happening, I first need to get the data. For this I have most of the Influxdata TICK-stack running, namely Telegraf, Chronograf and InfluxDB. Telegraf collects data and inserts that into the Time Series Database, called InfluxDB. I use Chronograf to explore values in InfluxDB.

Other

confluence

Atlassian Confluence

Everyone gets to the point where you can’t keep up with everything you built or did. I was searching for wiki software that was modern and easy to use, I found Confluence. At only $10 for a 10 user license it’s a total steal and I can easily say the best documentation tool I’m using right now.

drawio

Draw.IO

Eventually, I just wanted nice layouts of my environments, logical views of my networking and physical connection mapping in easy to read views. Not much a fan of the bulky Visio, I chose to go with Draw.io for desktop. All my charts and overviews are made with Draw.io

debian

Debian 9

Most of the VM’s I’m running are based off my Debian 9 template. I find Debian easy to use and as I’m not that much of a Linux user, I feel comfortable using headless Debian to set up my services and VM’s.

WS2016

Windows Server 2016

I use a couple of Windows Server 2016 VM’s in my homelab. Mostly it’s just used for providing AD services and DNS. I currently don’t use Exchange or MSSQL.