Following on from post 3 of the series I want to now outline the design I went for and some of the reasoning for this, the equipment I have has a lot of direct attached storage, but not a good enough RAID controller if a RAID controller at all. This led me to having individual disks as datastores.

This method is clearly not very good for resiliency, if those disks die then I lose the contents… or have to revert to a backup at very least. This is not really an issue as I am running regular backups on the machines I need to have protected everything else is non persistent or is protected by some level of RAID. This method of single disk datastores also works well with the Virtual Storage Arrays although I have a better plan for this I think and will mull this over before sharing.

I break my lab into 3 areas, Physical, Virtual and Home. The physical being the actual physical ESXi hosts and any management virtual machines I have in the lab, the virtual is the nested ESXi hosts and Hyper-V hosts as well as all other virtual machines, I then have the home and this will consist of everything that is connected via Wi-Fi or physical Ethernet connection.

The hub of this network is controlled by the BT physical router (ordered a new Linksys recently) this gives out any wifi connectivity and physical connectivity for the home network. For internet connectivity to the lab, I have a virtual router currently running Untangle as a virtual machine residing on the HP ML110 with a WAN and LAN link to both Home and Lab networks.

Consideration of having direct uplink from Dell switch to BT router? There was a consideration but I wanted to at least keep some control.

Networking Subnets

My networking skills are limited and I am sure I am missing some level of detail here and features and functionality with the Dell Managed switch that I have however I believe how I have configuered this to be the best way and easiest way to segregate traffic between Home and Lab networks.

On my HP ML110 G7 I have a Virtual Appliance running, this is running Untangle, this appliance acts as a network gateway for my home lab. It has one physical connection to the Dell Managed Switch for Lab networking and one physical connection to my broadband router for Internet access. Simple stuff this appliance also has some added features around Firewall, DNS, DHCP if I was to need it as well as monitoring and reporting against traffic.

From a sub-netting point of view I kept things very simple here using just the two and on a very common configuration.

High Level

The following sections are to give a very high level overview of how all of my systems are put together currently.


As mentioned in the previous post my MSI Laptop acts as my Windows Desktop but also has VMware workstation installed with a nested ESXi host which is then running my main Domain Controller and the VMware Virtual Center. The MSI is directly connected to the Dell Managed Switch, and Wi-Fi connected to my Home network for access.


Within my configuration I have my Virtual Center and Datacenter then underneath that we have the above Management cluster which only contains the one host, we then have a physical cluster that currently contains 3 hosts with one waiting to be added shortly. Finally we have our nested Site 1 and Site 2 these are nested hosts that reside on the physical clusters. I have not detailed these on this post.

You will see from the below that only host .121 has access to both the lab network and home network because this is where the Untangle appliance resides.

Virtual Machines

The key to point out here is that on the physical layer of this lab, we have our Storage Virtual Arrays, Nested Hosts (VMware  ESXi and Hyper-V) and some of our Veeam component servers. All other virtual machines such as Exchange, SQL, Oracle and Sharepoint reside on those Nested hosts.

From a testing functionality though I generally use the Physical hosts directly to spin up testing and training resources to preserve the Nested environments.

Next up I am going to look into the physical requirements of my home lab. Any feedback or advice please reach out to me @MichaelCade1 / @vZillaUK

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