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  1. Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    91

    Certifications
    VCP6-DCV, VCP5-DCV, VCA-DCV, VCA-WM, VCA-Cloud, MCITP: EA, MCSA:2008, MCSE 2003 (Sec), MCDST, MCTS: Vista, Windows 7, 70-350, 70-351, MCITP:EST (V)
    #1

    Default Hardware advice sought for virtual lab

    Hoping to get a steer on how best to decide on whether to go for multiple NUCs or a single high spec white box pc for VMWARE/MS and Citrix certification. I suspect that my current lab isn't likely to cope (AMD A6 quad-core/16Gb RAM) with the below.

    I am currently in what I expect to be in a unique position where I can invest in a lab (inheritance - approx Ł1800 budget+ EvalExperience), where previously cost has prevented doing so (married with 2 children and a mortgage, normally with other more family orientated costs to save for pay for). I don't want to waste the opportunity to build a lab that may be useable for a good number of years going forward, without massive energy costs or large amounts of space being taken up. Whilst a cheap second hand server may be an option I am concerned about the energy costs and noise associated.

    I currently work as an infrastructure operations engineer, so work with a good range of technologies (VSphere/Citrix/Netapp/Cisco/various Linux distributions/MS Servers/System Center). Currently VCP-DCV certified, looking at VCAP or other VCPs, have taken the CCA-V course so looking at building out a lab for that too (do Citrix do cheap/reasonably priced labs?), and need to upgrade my MCITP 2008 to 2012/2016 before the upgrade paths disappear.

    After a couple of busy years where life got in the way of study I now want to move forward and get the above started.

    Any thoughts or suggestions greatly appreciated.
    Last edited by GBAKER2204; 10-11-2017 at 08:02 PM.
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  2. Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Posts
    717

    Certifications
    CCNA R&S, Security+, Network+, Linux Essentials
    #2
    I recently had my laptop of 10 years die. I originally spent about $2000 when I bought it, but I wasn't really in the mood to spend that type of money this time around. I also built a desktop a few years back with 32Gigs of RAM, i7(4th generation). With that being said I opted to go with a cheap $350 laptop and was planning on trying to build out a lab server.

    I still haven't built out a lab server, but here's a summary of what I found with a few hours research:

    Used servers:

    Reddit has a pretty good subreddit on this at /r/homelabs. They have really good info on what to look for in used servers. This route seems to fit my current budget($500-$600) pretty well and there seems to be hardware that you can acquire that can get you plenty of cores/threads and RAM to run lots of VMs concurrently. I bought a VIRL subscription last year and one of the things I ran out of fast especially using the CSR1000v images was RAM and cores/threads.

    SuperMicro servers:

    I kind of stumbled across their products as I was researching a new laptop to buy. While researching laptops I was reading about whether the laptop I ultimately bought supported m.2 NVMe SSDs(it didn't, but I bought anyways). Supposedly these drives have crazy transfer speeds(how much that's going to affect a certain use case varied based off of a couple of reviews I read.) I then started researching servers that had NVMe SSDs in them and came across SuperMicro who specializes in them.

    I also came across a website of a guy who opted to build a home lab server using a SuperMicro server instead of a NUC. He seemed pretty happy with it. I ultimately didn't pull the trigger because it was more than what I am willing to spend at the moment. One of their cases ran I think between $300 - $500, but then you would also have to purchase the processor, memory, hard drives, and power supply(possibly). While it was out of my budget it might currently be doable with your budget.

    Overall, if I had your budget I think I would definitely be leaning towards a SuperMicro server. I definitely wouldn't touch anything that limited me to 32Gigs of RAM because it will be easy to run out of RAM depending on what you're running and once you've filled up the RAM you pretty much have to buy another board and potentially another processor as well(and case and power supply.)
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