Home Lab Refresh

I’ve had my old lab a while now which consists of the following:

2 x Mac Mini w/16GB RAM and 256GB SSD upgrades

1 x Cisco SG300 24 port GB switch

1 x Synology DS412+ w/ 2 x 256GB Samsung Pro SSD and 2 x 2TB WD RED HDD

I also have an iMac with Core i7, 32GB RAM and 1TB fusion drive which allows me to spin up some workloads to ease congestion on the Mac Mini’s. 

This has served me well, however, the 16GB RAM in the Mac Minis was really a limitation, especially when I wanted to spin up and down different vApps consisting of a number of items which could easily consume the combined 32GB RAM available.

Luckily, there are a number of people in the community who had done the hard work for me in testing and blogging about various methods which meant I could be lazy and simply look for the feedback of others. The stand out two sites I looked at were that of  Frank Denneman and Fred Hoffer.

I had a few requirements that I needed to meet which were:

R01: Be quiet, be very quiet

R02: Have IPMI/WoL capability (IPMI preferred)

R03: Be able to spin up vApps containing multiple VMs (i.e., A Horizon View environment), without delay from resource constraints 

After some design workshops in my head, and avoiding talking to the CFO (in this case my wife to be) I decided I would keep a single Mac Mini as a management server (running ESXi 5.5) and I would host the vCenter appliance, a DC and a jump box which I can connect from remotely, all installed on a local 1TB SATA drive. The Mac Mini is silent and has very little power draw so I don’t mind leaving it powered on 24/7.

I already have a NAS which is more than adequate for the my needs and allows me to use the WoL function so I can power on remotely only when needed, and the switch I have, whilst is not 10GB but in reality id much more than I need.

Due to the expense of the system I went for I have only purchased one to start with, but plan on adding a second further down the line, for now though, this should keep me busy.

So, the all important kit list: (I’ll link to the manufacturer site for parts) I was lucky enough to be in the US twice already this year, so I got some parts over there! (Note: This setup may look familiar if you’ve read the above blogs)

Case: Fractal Design R4 

Motherborad: SuperMicro X9SRH-7TF

CPU: Intel Xeon E52620V2???

CPU Cooler: Noctura NH-U9DXi4

Power Supply: Corsair RM550

SSD: Samsung 840 Pro 256GB (x2)

This platform rocks and is almost silent. I’m going to upgrade to vSphere 6 shortly so will have a further post about the configuration at a later date. Thanks to the vExpert programme for giving me the ability to licence my lab!

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