Welcome back and we are now on the 3rd post of my #ProjectTomorrow series and also the 5th post of November meaning I am still there and on par with what I achieved last year in the #VDM30in30 which was a pretty shoddy performance. Happy Guy Fawkes / Fireworks night. Funny Story that Jack Cade was actually friends with Guy Fawkes back in the day, nothing to do with wanting to burn down parliament but went against the king on numerous occasions. A legend in himself and one of the reasons I wanted to call my first son Jack. Maybe another idea for a post to change topics completely.

Anyway back on topic, the previous two posts touched on Why do we put ourselves through the whole Home Lab headache, what use cases do we see and I listed some that I believe are out there and I am sure you guys have more you can add and then in the second post we touched on the use cases for my home lab and why I do things the way we do, and reading back its like some of the content was actually taken from an executive summary for a customer high level design.

I want to touch on the hardware resources I have today in my lab but also some of the things in my head about expanding this home lab footprint.


MSI Laptop – As it says this is my work laptop, the reason this is listed as part of my home lab is purely because this is on all day everyday and this houses my management servers, a Domain Controller and the VMware Virtual Center on a nested ESXi host running on VMware Workstation.  This rig also runs Windows and has my work applications on, even though I do have two macs to choose from, one docked at home and one that follows me around on the road. Its really there just in case. Also a good play rig for Veeam EndPoint tools.
HPML110 – Next up is my first ever server that I have not been able to say goodbye to for a number of years and reasons.  Some perks for this little box though is that its quiet and back in the day it had enough RAM to achieve what I needed to from a testing and certification point of view.
SuperMicro 32GB – The best server in the playground, most RAM and best CPU as well as local disk a plenty. This really houses the majority of the home lab for me and in particular my current storage VSAs (However this will change later on) This being a full on 2U rackmount server it’s not too bad on noise and with my rack being in the same office as my WebEx sessions and calls I don’t believe this server affects the quality of audio.
SuperMicro 16GB – Finally we have the second SuperMicro box, only 16GB here and considerably noisier than the big brother shown above. This is outlined or highlighted for nested Hyper-V, System Center and some other niche BETA testing, with it being noisier this cannot be on during the days I am working from home but it does add some extra power to the lab combined system.
All of these hosts run a flavour of VMware vSphere ESXi, in the upcoming posts I will dive deeper into how these look and why these have been configured in this way.

Just to paint a brief picture on the Storage and Networking that I also physically have in the lab below you will find that detail as well as the Moar section where we can only keep one eye on the eBay saved searches to see if something pops up.


Lots of Direct Attached

MSI has an SSD running the Windows OS as well as the lab virtual machines, there is also a capacity drive not used for anything regarding the home lab.

SuperMicro 32GB = 10TB of spinning rust.
SuperMicro 16GB = 6TB of spinning rust.
HPML110 G7 = 1TB of spinning rust.

NETGEAR ReadyNAS 716 – 5TB of Hybrid disk, capacity tier on SAS and also 2 x SSD
NETGEAR ReadyNAS 312  – 1TB of spinning rust – really used for ISO media and home shares.


Dell 1GB Managed Switch
BT Broadband Router
Linksys Wireless Router
Linksys wireless extender (Living Room)


VMware – courtesy of vExpert
Microsoft – msdn subscription


Disclaimer – I am not a massive fan of cats but I am a massive fan of a good meme. Thankyou.

We always need Moar right, apart from sickness and illness we don’t need any more of that! But anyway as I was building out the above I was starting to see some flaws to this design of mine. Virtual Storage Arrays are taking up more and more resources and in the current configuration, I could run maybe 1 or 2 of these Storage Arrays but it was going to put the hosts quite close to the edge.

In true HomeLab style I was on eBay looking for the next bit of hardware. I wasn’t sure what would cover this requirement but knew it would be on eBay that’s for sure. Apart from the ML110 mentioned above and a few little bits everything else has come from the eBay powerhouse of HomeLabs.

No difference on this occasion I found a SuperMicro 4 node server in a 2U form factor.

Next up I want to walk through more detail on the storage layout and networking. As always thanks for reading and please provide any feedback @MichaelCade1 / @vZillaUK

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