Home Lab Progress

In a recent post I detailed my previous home lab, which was nothing more than a beefy old HP server running a Windows domain environment on ESXi.

The most notable thing about it was it’s efficient and aesthetic mounting in a purpose built server room:

Well the old boy has found a loving new home (a backup server for a healthcare provider, not sure how I feel about that!), and a new lab is under construction.

As detailed in the previous post, I’ve made a conscious decision to move away from a virtualised network and server home lab, and more towards a hardware lab reflecting a micro-version of my work environment, accepting all the problems (mostly to my wallet) that this entails.

In keeping with aesthetics being a key component to my home labs, I’m sure you’ll agree this one is just as eye-catching:

Yes, the lab is genuinely keeling over, listing like some merchant trawler freshly torpedoed by a marauding Axis submarine in the Atlantic (sub sims use to be fun, anything decent since Silent Hunter?).

Of course I have plans to rack all this with a patch panel, but I’m adding/removing devices fairly often, so no point in sizing up a cab before I have the final hardware complete. There’s also the small issue of a pesky human partner, who isn’t too fond of large, energy guzzling, noisy machines in her spare bedroom. Gotta sneak these things in gradually.

So what I have at the moment:

  • 2 x Dell R610, each with 2 x E5620, 32GB RAM, 2 x 300GB 10K SAS.
  • Juniper SSG 140
  • 2 x Nortel BayStack 5520-24T-PWR
  • Extreme Networks 3650-PWR+
  • Cisco Catalyst 2960 SI
  • 2 x Cisco 1841

Might seem like some unusual choices in there (Nortel BayStacks?!), but this lab is intended to reflect my work environment as closely as I can. The majority of our access layer is Nortel BayStacks. Currently in the process of replacing them with Extreme Networks 3650s. Our internet edge routers are Cisco 1841s, also due for replacement next year. So just being able to tinker with Layer 1-3 as I would at work has already been fantastic.

Soon to be added will be a Synology NAS. Ideally to better reflect my work environment I’d love to replace the Juniper with a Palo Alto firewall and the Extreme 3650 with a VSP, but unfortunately both are too cost prohibitive.

Currently this is running a simple Windows domain with Exchange 2013, with the ESXi hosts managed by vCenter (evaluation, MUG license on the way). Once I have the hardware finalised I’ll be fleshing the VMs out, at which point I’ll post a more detailed overview. I have some nice touches (in my opinion) that I’ll detail, such as a dedicated NIC from my home PC into the lab network running VMware Workstation, where I run some domain joined Windows PCs, Mac OS, Kali Linux etc.

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