When I was at VMware as a vSAN SE, I often got asked about what home lab equipment to buy. The answer was usually along the lines of "it depends." In other words, you need to know what the goals of the buyer are, and I always spent time asking a lot of questions before proposing anything, much as I've always done for my day jobs. Here's some of the more common categories of thought for home labs:
- I just want to prepare for my VCP as cheaply as possible.
Like under $1000, max.
- I need gear that's as nearly identical to the gear I use at work for skills practice or change control rehearsals.
Used servers on eBay, if electricity costs and heat are not an issue. Running a 4 node vSAN tended to be beyond most individual budgets, unless they're ok with nesting.
- I want something small, powerful, efficient, quiet, and efficient enough to run "production" VMs 24x7, do VCP prep, and keep my skills up.
Nearly turnkey stable system with that is fully supported, has lots of RAM, and is on the VMware Compatibility List. Maybe even tinker with (unsupported) nested vSAN.
It's this third area that my 8.5 years of of blogging have focused on, a compact home datacenter really. I continue to use my ~3.5 year old 14 nm Xeon D-1500 based system as both my workstation for content creation including 4K video rendering, but it's also my vSphere 6.7 Update 3 datacenter, running 24x7. Admittedly, the wait for Intel to innovate their way to 10 nm has been a long one, hopefully the leap to the successor to the Xeon D-1500/Xeon D-1600 family comes sooner than later. Too early to say for sure, but maybe I'll need to head over AMD EPYC, where multi-core in a single-socket is really taking off. Either way, I keep my hardware for along time, to extract as much value as I can. To me, that's a tech success, and money well spent. It's also the environmentally friendly thing to do too. But I always keep a close eye on what's new too, especially when it comes to NVMe M.2 and U.2 storage, PCIe 4.0, and unique form factors and cooling solutions. But that's just me.
There's a strong community of so many other proud home lab owners that are not me, and they are also eager to share what they've already built. The diversity of what people think of as a home lab is quite interesting and entertaining. The prices are kind of hilarious. The results of what William Lam has pulled together is ready for your enjoyment, have a look:
- VMware Community Homelabs Project
If you have an ad blocker enabled, there's some VMUG ads running right now through BuySellAds that you're not seeing. Nearly everything I write about is purchased outright, then blogged about when things work out. Those very few exceptions when gear was provided at reduced or no coast are always clearly disclosed.
- The Xeon D Supermicro SuperServer "Bundle 2" of joy, a complete home datacenter virtualization solution that really flies
- VMUG Advantage EVALExperience is serious about home labs with a 10% discount for TinkerTry readers and now includes VCF and SRM too!
All articles about VMUG Advantage EVALExperience
All videos about Xeon D
- All videos about Supermicro SuperServers
Be sure to congratulate Lindy on landing a job at VMware recently!