Following on from the 1st post, I want to touch on what I will be using my lab specifically for  and the reasons why, then later on in the series I will outline how I have achieved certain aspects and I am very much open for feedback over the whole design piece to make the most of this lab equipment.

As I mentioned in the first post my lab usage will consist of Testing, Demo and some training.

To set the scene here, I have recently started a new role at Veeam Software as a Technical Evanglist, prior to this I was a Systems Engineer based in the UK.

As a Systems Engineer it was my responsibility to provide pre sales technical assistance throughout the sales cycle to our customers, this would involve a lot of demo work but also a lot of testing and making sure that certain workloads would work or finding the best way to protect certain workloads. I believe the new role the percentage use case for each area may differ slightly but to at least begin with I am going to keep the same model and design.

Pre joining Veeam I had already invested in a certain amount of home lab hardware, this investment was really aimed at the Testing & Troubleshooting as in my role before Veeam I was a Solutions Architect and there was no real reason to demo anything. This obviously changed so I want to touch on these areas a little further.

Demo

n my opinion and specifically for a Veeam demo I want a running infrastructure with the ability to show all the features of Veeam Backup & Replication as well as the Monitoring & Reporting functions from Veeam ONE. This environment needs to be as clean as possible but still show an element of usage.

This environment should at least consist of 2 sites, more than 1 host on each site and at least 1 virtual centre (my lab really consists of VMware as the underlying hypervisor of choice)

A virtual machine point of view we should have at least one domain controller to authenticate against, this will also handle all demo lab DNS and DHCP functionality. The VMware VCSA will handle all vCenter management within the demo lab (it may be due to licensing that this VCSA will reside on a separate management cluster for all function of the “HomeLab”

From the Application layer we should have built a Domain Controller (As Mentioned Above) Exchange, SQL, SharePoint, Oracle. These where possible should contain some level of data and should also be the latest supported versions by Veeam and possibly several version depending on “HomeLab” resource.

Everything in this demo lab is built and restorable from a VM or an Application level to show this functionality within the Veeam software.

Testing

Even more so in this new role I will have the ability or requirement to test more software, in particular BETA releases from Veeam but being part of many different community programs I also gain early release and BETA testing software from these vendors, some of these community driven BETAs may not be related to Veeam but they are in fact related to Infrastructure and will warrant some of my time to test and discover on.

The testing element of the home lab is not as fixed as the demo, this can be left broken or half configured but will be required to be completely separated from the demo lab. (The only thing that this may be linked with is the overall domain, DNS and DHCP and VMware Virtual Center) Unless there is a requirement to segregate these away also. (BETA testing for the latest VMware version would be good use case for this)

Testing is not something as a Systems Engineer you need to have running 24/7 or for the whole year for example, it’s the ability to spin up a lab to test certain things at the specific times you need or when you are free to do so. I consider this workload to be non persistent, any data protection that is being performed here is purely because the exercise is probably spanning multiple days or weeks so would like that level of protection or I am testing Veeam software that brings the requirement to test data protection.

Training

The final use case and possibly the least used in my own home lab is the Training piece. The ability to spin up test environments to allow you to really deep dive into HA or DRS, nested workloads to allow for a deeper understanding on what is going on and really giving you that preparation for something like the VMware VCP.

The training element wasn’t always the least utilised though within my home lab. In fact at the beginning it was the most used because you are at that stage where you need to learn and understand many different elements of the infrastructure stack. I used my home lab to obtain the VCP, NetApp NCDA and NCIE, Veeam VMCE and also endless amounts of Microsoft Exams from back in the day. But I think moving through your career the training doesn’t disappear, but time gets shorter, I wouldn’t think I could find that amount of time I once took for all of the above certifications.

That’s really all I have on this one, its really about building you a picture of the use cases I believe I try to cater for in my home lab to achieve different tasks, It might be that I am doing it ALL wrong and I should just have a flat cluster for everything and just use all resources equally.

Next up I want to divulge the plethora of hardware that I am running in the HomeLab, and how once you have started you just don’t stop.

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