My VMware Home Lab v2

A while back I wrote an article on what my VMware Home Lab looked like.  (Original Article is here) Since I wrote this article I have been able to acquire some more HP Microservers (Thanks again @VMRandy).  I have spent some time re-building the whole lab, and bringing everything up to the latest GA versions of VMware products.  I thought it was about time I updated my Home Lab article so people could see what I have done now.

As in the previous article, lets start by looking at my kit:

  • 1 x HP ML115 G5 – Quad Core AMD Opteron
  • 8GB RAM
  • 2 x 256GB HD – RAID 1
  • 2GB USB
  • 2 x 1GB NIC
  • 1 x 1GB On-board NIC
  • 2 4 x HP Microserver N54L – 2.2Ghz
  • 16GB RAM
  • 4 x 256GB HD – RAID 5
  • 2GB USB
  • 2 x 1GB NIC
  • 1 x 1GB On-board NIC
  • 1 x Iomega PX4
  • 2 x 1GB NIC
  • 4 x 2TB HD – RAID 10
  • 1 x Buffalo Linkstation Duo
  • 2 x 500GB HD – Raid 1
  • 2 x Netgear Prosafe GS108 1GB Switches

As you can see by the list above, I now have 4 x HP Microserver’s.  This has helped considerably for what I wanted to achieve in my lab.  Also in the previous article I wrote how I configured the lab:

The hosts are configured in the following way:

The HP ML115 is my management host, which runs all the standard infrastructure VMs, for example, Active Directory, DNS, vCenter, Sophos UTM (Routing and Firewall) etc.

The HP Microservers run all my non management virtual workloads in a vSphere cluster. I also run 2 x nested ESXi VMs on these hosts.

The Iomega PX4 is a very nice and capable device. I have configured it to provide storage to my hosts using iSCSI.

The Buffalo Link station is an old piece of kit I bought quite some time ago as a home media server. I found a nice hack one day and turned it into an NFS Server. This (as you might guess) provides NFS storage to the hosts where I keep all my media ISOs.

Sounds like quite a simple environment, well to be frank, yes it is. It has also been built on a shoe string budget. (My wife would kill me otherwise).

As you can see by the hardware list, I have no switches providing VLANs. I get around this by running a Sophos UTM Virtual Machine. This allows me to create multiple networks and use static routes for the ones I want to route between. It works really well, and I have to thank Kamau Wanguhu for telling me about this. Its a free product for home use, and can be downloadedhere.

So what has changed now I have added 2 more Microservers.  Lets look at how I previously configured this from a logical perspective:
VMware Home Lab

I still run the Nested ESXi on the Microserver Cluster, and use the nested for my vCloud Director workloads.  What I have done differently is add a second Microserver Cluster.  Specifically I have done this, as I want to replicate how a customer has an on-premise vSphere environment where I can utilise vCloud Connector to move workloads between this cluster and vCloud Hybrid Service.  I have actually left the above design as it is, just scaled it by adding another cluster.  This is one of the reasons why in vCAT and other reference architectures, we all recommend using the building block design.  It allows you to easily scale out when needed. 

The environment now looks like:

VMware Home Lab

One of the key differences with this new build out, is the addition of vCloud Automation Center.  Why did I add vCAC? Well whats really cool is that I can now use vCAC to deploy to a number of different end points.  I have vCAC pointing to the following endpoints:

  1. On-Premise vSphere Cluster
  2. On-Premise vCloud Director (Virtual vCloud Custer)
  3. vCloud Hybrid Service
  4. vCloud Powered Provider (Virtacore)
  5. Amazon AWS

I have finally configured to provide what I have been talking about as true hybrid cloud (see my previous article: How I see the future of Hybrid Cloud)

Looking at the vCAC deployment from a logical perspective, this is ultimately how it works:

VMware Home LabMy end goal has been to replicate what an Enterprise customer would have in their environment.  Now that I have joined the vCloud Hybrid Service team, I need to understand the benefits (and also the pitfalls) of our cloud and provisioning products, so it is critical that my VMware home lab matches this, at least architecturally.

Next on my list is to implement vCloud Connector to be able to use the Data Center Extensions to have a true VMware Hybrid cloud, with a VPN connection between the two sites (on-prem vSphere and vCHS).  Finally I need some SSD’s to put in the Microservers so I can configure each of the hosts to use VSAN.  Watch out for v3.

Finally, as recommended in my previous article, head over to Chris Wahls’ site, he has a whole section covering Home Labs and there is some really great tips and ideas you can use for your own home lab deployments.

6 Responses to My VMware Home Lab v2

  1. NathanB April 20, 2014 at 9:12 pm #

    Can you share some more info into how you utilize sophos UTM?


  2. July 15, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

    By the time I get enough time to install the current GA builds on my lab it’s no longer current GA 🙂

  3. Mathew April 9, 2016 at 7:26 am #


    Please let me know whether we can run nested ESXi 5.5 on HP Microserver N54L?

    I want to run ESXi 5.5 Nd in top of that as a VM openstack OS to run some VMs.

    Is this possible?


    • David Hill April 20, 2016 at 2:00 pm #

      Hi, yes you can run Nexted ESXi 5.5 on the HP Microserver.



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