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Home Lab Setup – Stable at last

Any blogger / tinkerer that loves working in his/her home lab understands that it is always a work in progress.  Earlier this year, I started what should have been a four part series on the transformation of my home lab.  I had written three parts (the last post is right here) but I didn’t have it in me to call the lab “complete” and finish the series.

Since it is now the end of 2015, I thought I would update my blog with it’s current status… albeit not 100% complete.

When I left things off, I had a couple of Supermicro white boxes, and a desktop running VMware Workstation 11 for my workloads.  I had gone from running a 2-disk NAS, to Openfiler aggregating my direct-attached storage, to HP VSAs.  This spring, VMware made it apparent that VSAN 6 was a lot more mature than it was in the vSphere 5.5 (VSAN 1.0) days.  I decided to give it a try.

For a couple months, I ran my two Supermicro hosts (each with a single 128GB SSD and three 250GB 7200rpm SATA drives), 2x4core Intel Xeon L5420 processors, and 24GB of RAM, along with a VMware Workstation ESXi host carved out with 24GB of RAM, a similar disk setup, and 2x1core vCPUs.  I set up VSAN in this cluster, but not even EVC allowed me to VMotion VMs to my ESXi host in Workstation.

It was alright, but I wanted a true physical VSAN cluster, so I bought a third Supermicro host with almost identical resources to my previous two.

Now, I have 24 x 2.5GHz cores, 72GB RAM, and 2.25TB of VSAN storage for my lab, along with 1.8TB of NAS storage for my ISOs and other things.

The main reason I selected the Intel Xeon L5420 processors was due to it’s low energy consumption.  The lab hovers around 500 watts consumed.  Although this isn’t too expensive, it does add up to about $40US/month in energy costs.  The Supermicro systems are not quiet, either.  I have a sound meter app that tells me the noise is between 60-63 decibels, sustained.  I will typically work from my lab listening to music with noise cancelling headphones.

Along with my 3 host cluster, I decided to keep my VMware Workstation ESXi host for my vCenter Server / MS SQL server, my external platform services controller, and one of my domain controllers.  Altogether, that gives me 96GB of RAM with which to play.

Currently, I am focusing on my Horizon 6.2.1 environment, and Liquidware Labs Profile Unity 6.5.  I will be adding App Volumes when 2.10 comes out.

For storage, I was convinced that I would go ahead and get a Synology 1815+ but the price wasn’t something I could rationalize in 2015.  We’ll see what next year brings.

 

 

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