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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 labs; if you shared the same space with other Virtual Engineers & Architects, everybody had there on idea of what a lab should be and with multiple 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 End to End. This helps me develop strong MS Visio Diagrams (Digital Whiteboards) for the Customers I service.

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 electricity 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. Working with some Vendors you are able to get the Simulators to add to your environment to practice installations and configurations of other hardware products such as Cisco UCS & HX, NetApp etc...

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 DL360 G8 & G9 Servers was my choice as these are work horses and easy to configure and support. Becoming a Partner with many vendors & VMware vExpert you are able to inquire NFS Keys Licenses to run your lab from a software basis.

Feature on vAndu Homelabber Podcast (Top vExperts - Best Home Labs) -

My HomeLab Hardware Configuration
1. Cisco ASA 5520 & 5512-K9 ASA Firewalls
2. HP ProCurve 48 Port Switches (2)
3. HP DL360 G9 Servers (4) vSphere ESXi
4. Buffalo NAS Storage (2) File Storage (NFS Protocol)
5. NetGear 5100 Wireless Connectivity (Internal Connectivity using Laptop, IPad etc.)
6. 2 Post Rack with Shelves (2) {Equipment is space out to reduce heat}
7. APC 5600 Rackmount UPS (1)
8. CyberPower Rackmount UPS (2)
9. Color CAT 5 Cables (Blue, Purple, Yellow, Black & White)
10. HP T640 Thin Clients (2) {Used to Citrix and Horizon View Windows Desktop Testing}
11. IBM Servers for Backups (8TB of Local SAS Disk Storage)

My HomeLab Software Configurations
1. Windows 2016 & Windows 2022 (Domain Controller, DNS, DHCP, Certificate)
2. Windows 2016  & 2022 (Member Servers)
3. Windows 10 & 11 (Desktops)
4. VMware vSphere ESXi 7.x / 8.x (Hosts & vCenter Appliances)
5. Citrix XenApp / XenDesktop 18.8 (Virtual Applications and Desktops)
6. VMware Horizon 8 (Virtual Desktops)
7. SQL Always-On 2016 & 2022 Environments
8. Cisco, NetApp Virtual Simulators
9. Embedded VMware ESXi Hosts (William Lam) Configurations
10. Veeam Backup and Replication & Enterprise Manager v12

HomeLab Remote Management Configurations
1. IBM Server Desktop (Dual Boot Windows 10 & Windows 2019)
2. iMAC 27" (VMware Workstation)
3. 2 55" Samsung TV's for Monitor Outputs (Managed by Video Convertor)
4. 2 24" Dell Monitors (Managed by Video Convertor)
5. Microsoft i7 Surface
6. Remote Green Screen Setup & Configurations (Zoom, Teams, etc...)

"Another way of having a Remote Lab for Demo Testing "

Installing VMware ESXi Arm Fling on a Raspberry PI 4 - I used this as a mobile lab with my Microsoft Surface Pro with VMware Workstation 16 installed to manage a Virtual Firewall Appliance & Domain Controller VM's to support & manage access to the ESXi Arm Fling Host where Linux and Windows VM's that are configured. I also carry a 5 port switch with 2 3ft CAT6 cables with me for connectivity for all devices.

This is a great setup if you have limited funds and space to purchase Homelab for testing.

Credited to William Lam (VMware) for a great How To article.