My home lab hardware has easily been the largest contributing factor to expanding my IT knowledge, and by extension my career. I would encourage every aspiring IT professional to get this type of project a shot.
Left to right: Lenovo TS140, Unifi USG, Unifi 8Port 60W switch, Unifi AP Lite, Raspberry Pi (Pi-Hole), Synology DS418, Brother USB printer, APC BR1000MS UPS
On the far-left is a Lenovo TS140. This is the Xeon model with the E3-1225v3 processor, and I have upped the RAM to 32GB of DDR3 ECC memory. Here’s a quick breakdown of what I’ve done and learned along the way
- Lenovo TS140
- Current: Hyper-V – Server 2016
- VMWare ESXi – started with 5.5 and updated through 6.5 before switching.
- Proxmox – open source virtualization. This would be my second choice if I wasn’t heavy into Microsoft as a career.
- Constantly rotating and creating new VMs to explore new operating systems.
- Ubuntu / CentOS / Debian / Server 2016 & 2019
- 1x 120GB SSD – Operating System drive
- 1x 500GB SSD – VHDX storage on ReFS volume
- 3x 2TB Hitachi Deskstar ($30/per on eBay) – Storage Space volume creation
- Teaming NICs with the addition of a PCIe LAN Card
- Virtual Switches
- 1x 1TB External HDD – VM Backup Repository for Veeam
- Using the Veeam NFR licensing, configuring and testing of Veeam
- Studying for VMCEv9 I heavily relied on this live environment
- Active Directory
- Home domain
- Testing out new Features and Roles at will
- Troubleshooting and replicating interesting situations freely
The virtualization aspect here really is key. By exploring a handful of different platforms I’ve been able to expose myself to new technology at a rate that others cannot manage. Again, this was all contained in JUST that Lenovo Server, it doesn’t include the actual networking hardware configuration!
I won’t go on with the Home Lab information here, as I want to produce individual posts for each of the primary systems as well as dig in a little deeper for some of the interesting parts. However, I will leave a bit of a gallery here of additional pictures before leaving the rest of this conversation to future-me.
USG, 8 Port Switch, PoE Unifi AP, Raspberry Pi 3+