In order to provide upkeep of my skill set, I saw the purpose of creating a homelab where I can practice of what I read from eBooks, Online Training & CBT's, White Papers & Technical Presentations. As I worked for many VAR's I found it hard to use a shared lab; if you shared the same space with other Virtual Engineers & Architects, everybody had there on idea of what a lab should be and with mutiple configurations occurring daily the lab environment change. The key was to ensure we ALL had the basic concepts of Design, Installation, Configuration and Troubleshooting Methods.
Everyone’s talks about the cloud for use of their online products nowadays so I had to consider it, right? I did, and it is just too expensive and even if I used there products I miss out on hardware configuration which is important to understand connectivity. Building your lab is pretty much always cheaper in the long term than using one of the major cloud server providers. The cost of electricty is not that high and getting the right servers to lower the heat and sound is key. Also, having your own hardware is easier to manage, and more flexible. Finally the ability to build from bottom to top (hardware configurations) provides insight of configurations in which you will not get in an online lab configuration.
In choosing lab hardware I went with HP as the perferred vendor as these products was listed to be much cheaper on eBay. HP Proliant & HP360 G8 Servers was my choice as these are work horses and easy to configure and support.