Another great Connecticut VMUG UserCon yesterday, with VMUG member presentation "The Ultimate Home Lab"

Yesterday was a blast for me, meeting so many IT Professionals who are also my neighbors. I even had a chance to get to catch up with these two inspiring key-noters:

  • Gurusimran Khalsa, Senior Technical Marketing Manager at VMware, and blogger, who I had briefly met before at The Reckoning 2015, and whose ex-introvert (or is that introvirt?) pitch on stage really resonated with me.
  • Brian Knudtson, Technical Marketing Manager at SimpliVity, and blogger at and Forbes, who was also so generous to sit down and talk deep tech stuff with Alastair Cooke ( and I recently, just the 3 of us, for 45 minutes!

See also many pictures of the day way down below, as the keynoters spoke about their their convoluted IT journeys.

I started my day attending presentations by getting some tips from Veeam.
TinkerTry visitor, Connecticut neighbor, and among the Top 10 commenters at TinkerTry, ever!

After the presentation, I met many new people, which is always a good thing. One new face was fellow Connecticut resident Robert Klobukowski, who I've been talking with quite a bit lately online. I quite enjoyed "deep-diving" with him, as we discussed various bleeding-edge SuperServer Workstation challenges that he didn't just document for me, but went ahead and worked hard to try to resolve. I'm incredibly thankful for that, and I vowed to collaboratively work with him, Supermicro, and VMware, going forward, as needed. That's fun for me, knowing we'll resolve these RDM related problems faster, more effectively, together. These are the magic moments that are so special, that just don't happen when I stay in front of your computer all day. And it does tend to help when I wear my almost-neon TinkerTry shirt. Rob, like myself, cares enough to spend both professional time and personal time pushing tech forward. Rob's employees are clearly lucky to have him.

I was also fortunate to be given a presentation slot, which is extra meaningful for me, since I was there not as a vendor, but as a User Group member and IT Professional. Hopefully what I presented will help my peers in their IT careers. I know at least one guy has seen my popular build your awesome virtualization home lab video, when he mentioned it in passing as we were discussing ways to make vCSA easier to deploy, especially for newbies.


Presentation corrections/clarifications

I admittedly rushed to get through as much demonstration and description as I could in the time I had, and I can't believe I forgot to mention that there's an opportunity to learn much more during an upcoming free webinar, screenshot here:

Click to see the description and registration link

I also managed to make some rookie mistakes:

  • not holding the mic close enough while talking quickly, so sorry about that, same thing I did last year, they had no lapel mics, but maybe by next year I'll have learned my lesson
  • since it was hard to hear me in the back rows, here's the storage layout I was trying to explain (click on the picture at right to zoom in)

then went on to make some more inexplicable mistakes:

  • mis-stating the current pricing of stuff, luckily, quoting prices higher than they actually are:
    • the system that most people get for virtualization arrives with 2 of the 4 DIMM slots populated, that's 64GB of RAM, you just provide your own storage and install your OS, it's called Bundled 2, detailed here, with current pricing here, you can add 2 more DIMMs to your order for 128GB total (as demonstrated yesterday) here
    • all systems ordered from the above links are absolutely the latest Xeon D-1541 that only started shipping this week, the same as the Supermicro loaner system you saw demonstrated, only with the GA level PCB (printed circuit board) and BIOS
    • the Samsung 950 PRO 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD that I showed you my benchmarks of is no longer $350, the price has dropped, perhaps because a 1TB model will be arriving early this year, see all the models and pricing at Amazon here
Photo by Connecticut VMUG Leader Matthew Kozloski.

Ok, with all that said, I feel like it went pretty well, since my audience seemed to grow during my 15 minutes of presentation time, and the enthusiastic audience feedback and questions made it so very fun for me. I also plan to have blog posts related to those ideas for more quiet cooling options soon, meanwhile, I have this post about the FLIR One thermal imaging camera.

For those that weren't there, one of the best perks of getting an opportunity to present at an event like this is the chance to learn more about the faces in the crowd.

Questions I asked the audience

Of the 60 or so people watching my presentation in the Demo Zone, I asked:

  1. How many of you have a home lab that is currently operational, ready for you to use at any time?
    About half of the audience raised their hands.

  2. How many of you with home labs are using VMware?
    Nearly all hands stayed raised, but to clarify, I went on...

  3. How many of you with home labs are using Hyper-V?
    I believe 4 folks proudly held their hands high, this is good, given it's a rather VMware-heavy event we were all attending.

Part of the point I was trying to make was that this Supermicro SuperServer SYS-5028D-TN4T is not just the only server suitable for use as a home lab that I could find anywhere on the VMware Hardware Compatibility Guide, but it's also quite capable of running Hyper-V nested under that ESXi 6.0. This is a topic that I should revisit, but I did get it working quite nicely here, and it's only gotten even easier since.

See also at TinkerTry

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TinkerTry's relationship with Wiredzone is similar to the Amazon Associates program, where a very modest commission is earned from each referral sale from TinkerTry's SuperServer order page. I chose this trusted authorized reseller for its low cost and customer service, and a mutual desire to help folks worldwide, including a new way to reduce EU shipping costs. Why? Such commissions help reduce TinkerTry's reliance on advertisers, while building a community around the Xeon D-1500 chipset that strikes a great balance between efficiency and capability.

I personally traveled to Wiredzone near Miami FL to see the assembly room first-hand, and to Supermicro HQ in San Jose CA to share ideas and give direct product feedback.

I'm a full time IT Pro for the past 23 years. I've worked with IBM, HP, Dell, and Lenovo servers for hands-on implementation work across the US. Working from home lately, I'm quite enjoying finally owning a lower-cost Supermicro solution that I can recommend to IT Pro colleagues, knowing it will "just work." That's right, no tinkering required.