Well it’s about time I post about my home lab 2015 edition. Last year I was running a happy home lab on HP workstations using Operton 2xxx processors. This year VMware releases vSphere 6 and I loose support for Operton 2xxx processors. So I had to start over again. I am a very cheap man so I want the cheapest thing that will reasonably work. This time I wanted to get three nodes for possible vsan so here is my home lab.
After pricing out all kinds of stuff I stuck with the HP workstations. They are normally server class hardware with great life and lightly used. They also don’t sound like a Jet engine when running. The HP version of ESXi installs out of the box without any problems and does not require any modification which is a huge win. I wanted to make sure the processor was on the HCL (I don’t care about the server being on the HCL because I am cheap) so I browsed options and found the E5404 was on the HCL for ESXi 6. Searching ebay I found some great deals on the HP xw6600 workstations with a single quad-core E5404 processor. Normally they ship with two broadcom 1GB nic’s and 4GB of RAM. They max out at 32GB of RAM with a single processor. The only real downside is you only get four cores, but it’s $79.99 each right now. You add some RAM – 32GB for $88.99 and you get 4 cores and 32GB of RAM for $167 per node. This forms a very solid cluster with three nodes.
Shared storage is critical to a good cluster. You have a few options:
- VMware vSAN
- Additional PC providing NFS or iSCSI
- Some type of NAS (Synology)
vSAN requires at least one SSD and one spinning disk per node. So you are looking at roughly $300 total to go this way. It also requires a license from VMware.
Additional PC providing NFS or iSCSI – use FreeNAS or something similar. It’s cheap and easy if you have hard drives and PC’s sitting around.
Synology – These sell for cheap on ebay and rock so much. I love them… you can buy with drives on ebay for around $150 if you are lucky.
I personally have vSAN and a synology nas in place.
You really need a Gigi-Managed Switch for VMware implementation. Buy one for $120 or so or find one on ebay.
Here is the sticky bit… you need licenses. There are two options available at this time for low-cost:
- VMware vExpert – This program provides great access to licenses and is not hard to get into at this point
- VMUG Advantage program – for $200 a year you get licenses and lots of other benefits
Let me know if you have any questions.