I think most IT professionals have some sort of understanding that building a home lab could be beneficial for your career and would help you try out features and configurations that you might not have time to during your regular office hours.
I have constantly been upgrading my lab, going from 1 server, up to 4 servers and now back again to 1 server. Moving from Cisco SME switches (SG300) to Juniper, moving from pfSense Firewalls towards Juniper vSRX. I thought this was a good time to write a series of blog posts about what I have done and why, perhaps it can inspire someone else to build an Extreme home lab 🙂
The following blogs will describe the lab:
- Physical home lab
The lab sits in the closet in my hallway. I can admit that it’s not completely silent, mostly related to the fact that I have an 8 slot NAS running 8 3.5″ disks.
- Network setup
The core of any Extreme home lab must be the network part. I have to admit that I’m not a genuine network guy but this has worked out really well for me, mostly thanks to the move from Cisco switches to Junipers, who offers really friendly shell. Running full Layer3 switch with both IPv4 and IPv6 ospf/ospfv3 dynamic routing, routed VLAN Interfaces (RVI) and routing-instances to separate DMZ and server traffic from the network to the firewall makes most corporate networks less secure in comparison to my lab 🙂 External connectivity includes full IPv6 routing and about 500 Mbit/s internet bandwidth with multiple public IPv4 and IPv6 addresses.
- Storage setup
Storage is one of the areas that, when you look at home labs mostly consists of a NAS box, or perhaps a dedicated server running OpenNAS or something alike. Taking a home lab to the extreme does of course involes a NAS but an extreme lab would of course run a real SAN. That’s not really practical to try to sceeze in a HP 3Par or an EMC storage array in my closet, nor would anyone want to live near a beast like that. But how can you run Fiber Channel at home and still fit it within the boundaries of your closet? Let me show you how.
Another core element of any lab would be the possibility to spin up virtual machines. Here we are talking about vSphere 6.0 running an host with 64 Gigabyte of ram, Dual 10Gigabit network cards, Fiber-Channel and all SSD drives in RAID-5 supporting up to 50 virtual machines.
- Supporting Compute Resources
No lab could live without software, the lab itself consists of a fully configured office environment that includes Active Directory, Exchange 2016, Skype for Business, Network Policy Services (NPS), Radius, Tacacs++, MDT, PrintServer, Certificate (KPI)) servers and a lot more.
- Public Services
Most labs would not publish any services, as that goes against the purpose of doing stuff in an isolated environment, however my lab is different as i follow the “Eat my own dog food” rules. That means that this blog, for example is served from my lab and that other resources like emails are served from my Exchange mail server, my Lync…. skype for business conversations comes from my Skype For Business server, and a lot more.