So now that I have shared my motivation for having my own Home lab, the natural next step would be to acquire the necessary hardware.
Common sense would tell you that all you really need is a PC that is capable of handling a few virtual machines. But I didn’t exactly go the common sense rout for my home lab. I wanted actual enterprise class hardware for my adventure. The most difficult part of acquiring enterprise class hardware is the cost barrier. Traditionally this equipment is more expensive because they offer higher quality and more reliable hardware.
So what did I buy and where did I get it. I ended up with quite a smattering of items. The core of my Homelab is 3 HP Proliant DL360 G6 and 2 Cisco Catalyst 2950 switches. Along the way I acquired a Dell/EMC nas device, Juniper IDP 50, F5 BigIP and a 42U server rack. You can find the full list and links to the items on one of my Reddit Post. I found most of my Homelab equipment through surplus auction of my local county and got some stuff from eBay. If you live in a larger metro are I recommend that you do some searches for your local counties surplus auctions. They won’t always have what your looking for so you may just have to keep an eye on it and wait for the right item to go on the block.
Welcome to part 1 of my home lab adventure. I’m not sure how many parts I’m going to do in this series. I figure I’ll just keep posting until I run out of stuff to talk about! So for the first installment, I’m going to talk about the motivation to build a home lab, and what I am using it for.
So, to start things off; I stumbled upon /r/homelab over on ye ole Reddit one day, and just started looking around. While this subreddit isn’t as visually appealing, or full of dank memes like a lot of other subreddits, there is a ton of good information on the site. The first question I asked myself is “Who are these crazy people, and what is classified as a Homelab?” I’m almost certain this is the same question my wife asks herself everyday when she sees the 42U rack in my office . My brother is a bit more blunt. Multiple times while assisting with the move of the server rack he asked, “What kind of person needs their own server rack?” I just simply laugh and move on.
I will now attempt to explain the answer to these seemingly ludicrous questions. There a few different reasons people choose to have their own home lab.
- Migrate back from the cloud to local
- Study for certifications
- Space heater
- Increase their power bill
- Test new applications for work
- Centralize media and its playback
For myself specifically, I fell into a few of these groups, which I will get to more specifically. For many months I was using a VPS ( Virtual Private Server) over at So You Start. This served me well for much of what I wanted to accomplish; but I craved the ability to be able to physically control my hardware and data. In my line of work this is something that comes up nearly everyday. While most of the reputable cloud providers in the world provide excellent service and are secure, many IT Security professionals have a hard time jumping the mental hurdle of the cloud. So, what do I use my Homelab for? Well, it accomplishes a few tasks for me. I use it to store and playback my media. I also use it to test new applications at will. So the answer to the initial question?
Those crazy people are me and anything you want it to be.