This will be a short blog series of the new setup and how you can start to do your own homelab.
The basic idea of a homelab
I have always had a homelab, small, but enough to learn and the more you learn the bigger your need is. The first homelab consisted of 2* Apple Mac mini. The Apple Mac mini is very power efficient and very quiet. Not the beefiest hardware, but just enough to be able to run a vCenter and have vSAN running.
- Apple Mac Mini v5.1 mid-2011 A1347
- 2.3 GHz Core i5 (I5-2415M)
- 16GB DDR3 memory
- Dual Drive kit
- 256GB Cache disk
- 600GB capacity disk
They were mounted in a Sonnet MacRack mini 1U enclosure. Which have been perfect for many years. In my small setup I have been running my pFsense firewall and all sorts of small VMs, due to the small memory amount I was primary FreeBSD VMs with services as Zabbix, Weewx, OpenHAB, Unify controller, TOR and things like that. All stuff to play around with besides VMware of cause.
“Homelabbing” is where is see people learn and are having fun, without breaking too much.
The idea of new homelab
I have always had a way higher power bill than other “normal” people”. Servers, NAS and home automation gear standing around are not good for you power bill. And that’s also why my first homelab was made of Mac mini.
So instead of having huge servers in the garage or basement, I have always tried to keep the footprint down. The WOF(WifeAprovalFactor) also makes a hit here 🙂
I have a wall-mounted 19″ rack with 12U and 600mm depth. Placed in the garage where noise is not a problem anymore.
I want to run an all-flash VMware vSAN cluster with three nodes. I don’t want only two hosts and a witness appliance, even if it works and it is a fully supported concept for small- or branch offices. I want a real scale. Each server should have one cache device and at least one SSD for the capacity tier. I went all-in and decided to go with two SSDs for capacity. All servers have to be connected with 10Gbit SFP+ for vSAN and vMotion.
Conclusion of upcoming homelab
- Small footprint, both power, and space.
- 3 node all-flash vSAN cluster
- 10Gbit SFP+ networking
- Formfactor must be rack
The new hardware
Decided to go with Supermicro hardware. They have IPMI and actually some of the E300 series is now on the VMware compatibility list.
Supermicro kits such as the E300 are a very popular choices amongst the VMware community. It got a powerful Xeon-based CPUs and support for up to 128GB of memory, it is perfect for running a killer vSphere/vSAN setup and still keeping cost, noise and power bill down.
Here is a list of what the hardware consists of. This gives a hell of horsepower for a homelab and plenty of memory and CPU for doing nested environment so test our NSX-V to NSX-T migrations etc.
|3||Supermicro E300-8D 4core Intel D-1518 2Ghz|
|3||Intel 790p 128GB disk for cache tier|
|3||Supermicro Riser card|
|3||Supermicro SATA-DOM 32GB|
|12||Samsung 32GB DDR4 memory modules|
|3||Intel 600GB SSD for capacity tier|
Now the hardware is documented. Next will be rack and stack and how the environment will be designed 🙂