Home Lab

Most of my peers are always bugging me about my “Home Lab”.  I understand that I have “a problem”, to put it mildly.  What can I say, I like to find good deals or refurbish equipment that just needs a loving home.  Much of what I work with has VM applicance or simulator versions available – but it’s just not the same.  You can’t monitor a VM’s temperature or fans in a monitoring solution.  You can’t have faulty cables.  You don’t get to understand the heat, power, cooling, rack space issues that come with the physical.  It’s not as easy to visualize issues with LACP when it’s virtual.  So… I’ve built a full 42U rack in the basement, and I’m looking at customizing it to be an ‘actual’ datacenter, with some cooling, power management, separate circuits, etc.

Today’s configuration – not all of it active at any given time:

  • Juniper SSG-140-SH – chosen because SSG’s are something I’m certified on and the 140-SH is the first one that includes the HA licence built in.  Looking for a second inexpensive unit.
  • 2x Barracuda 340 Load Balancers – Everyone needs some Layer 3-7 balancing and redirection.
  • Barracuda 300 Anti-SPAM appliance – we use a 400 at the office, figured I should know how it works.  Someday I’ll set it up
  • Digi CM32 32 Port Console Server – because who wants to go move console cables around.  Cheap, and effective.
  • 2x Dell PowerConnect 6248 48 Port switches – with stacking modules and 10GbE CX4 modules.  Serves my needs just fine.
  • Dell C6100 Cloud Series 2U 4 Node (2x L5520 Quad Core, 24GB, 6x 1GbE, 120GB SSD/8GB USB per node) – the core of it all, the cluster.
  • Dell PowerEdge 2950 III – Dual Quad Core, 32GB, 20x 1GbE (3x 6pt NIC’s :)), 6x300GB + 512GB SSD – this is the ‘virtual storage appliance node’ – and each gets its own NIC’s
  • NetApp FAS2020HA 12x300GB SAS 15K – runs OnTAP v7.3.7 and is only 2U.  If it ran OnTAP v8.1.3, it’d be almost perfect 😦
  • NetApp FAS3040HA, each with 14x300GB 15K FC – running OnTAP v8.1.3, and chewing up 12U of space and power and heat in the rack.  I like it, but there has to be a more dense solution out there for me 🙂
  • APC SmartUPS 3000XL – it regularly complains that I’m hurting it, at 110V/30A.  I’m not surprised.
  • Dell 4210 42U Full Rack enclosure
  • Belkin FD1C16 17″ LCD/KVM tray

I realize it’s a little crazy.  But I don’t race cars, or rebuild a classic car, I don’t have season tickets to a sport, I don’t go drinking with the guys once a week.  This, is my hobby.  Rock stars love music, and I”m hoping that someday, I’ll get seen as a “Rock Star” in our industry.  Time will tell!

If you work for a local (Western Canadian) company and are looking to refurbish, recycle or resell some outdated equipment.  There’s not much more than I can use, but I’ve helped set up 2 additional labs for peers and companies to use for those who show a willingness and aptitude to learn.  Let’s pay it forward, and help some Geeks become Rock Stars…

  1. Jason
    May 30, 2014 at 1:57 PM

    Post pictures!

    • August 25, 2014 at 12:43 AM

      Soon! Should be a new rack coming, and some additional equipment. New 10GbE switches to go in after VMworld….

  2. Umar Ali
    January 7, 2015 at 5:37 AM

    Great Lab configuration – and I have the same views 🙂 don’t go out drinking or race cars, spend money on some tech-gear which will eventually help us become rock-stars 🙂

    thank you for sharing the details –

  3. Hauce
    February 16, 2016 at 1:10 PM

    Great setup you have there. Sounds more like a Home Datacenter.

    • February 16, 2016 at 1:52 PM

      Yeah. Some days this is true. But then, I’m labbing datacenter stuff… It’s all fun at least still…

  4. April 6, 2016 at 1:15 PM

    What about the heat? You forgot the 100.000 BTU air-conditioner cooling it all down 🙂
    Nice datacenter btw!

    • April 6, 2016 at 2:14 PM

      Cooling is pretty much the rational limiting factor to what I can do. I did et creative and zip ties 3 box fans to the front door of the rack, set on low. This keeps a nice continuous flow of air if nothing else, even if it’s ambient heat.

      The rack is in my furnace room, and it’s winter half the bloody year in Edmonton. So I keep a window open in the basement and the air circulates through the house. It’s far from efficient, but the furnace never kicks in more than the fan all that often ;). The worst part, is the ducting carries all the noise everywhere.

      So naturally the new phase is seeing how to do things more efficiently. If not by replace and reduce then by control. So for all the firewalls I’m looking at a switched/managed ATS. Partially to get more experience and understanding with ATS’s, and partially to allow me to only turn on what I need, when needed, even remotely.

      And power is pretty cheap here so far. $0.065/kWhr I think. Transmission and admin fees are the bulk of my bill u fortunately.

      And… This page needs a massive update 😉

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