Lab Expansion: Like in the old days

Currently i’m running my home lab environment on three physical Intel NUC devices. ESXi 6.5 is installed on each one of the NUCs and they are running a vSAN cluster (two M2 SSD inside each NUC, one for cache and the other for the capacity tier). Each NUC  comes with 32 GB memory and a Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-6260U CPU @ 1.80GHz installed as well. Due to the fact that the Intel NUCs are just not flexible enough for me to test certain scenarios I decided to expand my existing lab environment.

My current lab config:
– 3 x Intel NUC (i5), 32 GB Memory, 1 M2 120 GB SSD (vSAN Cache), 1 M2 512 GB SSD (vSAN capacity)
– Synology Diskstation DS416 – Shared Storage (Flash)
– Netgear GS418TPP ProSAFE 16-Port L2/L3 switch
– Ubiquiti Unifi Security Gateway (including some other epic SDN stuff from Ubiquiti! thanks @VMbaggum for the tip!)

Some constraints I have with this setup:
– 1 Physical NIC (additional USB NIC didn’t work as expected)
– No out of band management (IPMI, iKVM)
– CPU is not powerful enough to handle certain workloads in SDDC
– Not scalable in terms of adding additional storage in the future
– Unable to test DR/2nd DC scenarios

With all this in mind I started to think which additional hardware I needed to buy in order to get rid of all the constraints I currently have. I did search a lot on the web, but just a lot of the epic stuff is just to expensive. Therefore I chose to build a powerful tower/server where I can run nested ESXi hosts in. Just like I did in the past; building Desktops PCs from scratch. This will give  me the opportunity to select my own hardware (a powerful CPU). And I’m scalable and flexible as well.

The hardware config I’ve selected for my “Nested Virtualization Box”
– ASUS P10S-C/4L server mainboard
– Asus ASMB9-iKVM Management Module
– 4 x Crucial 16 GB Memory
– Intel Xeon E3-1275 v5 CPU
– 1 Crucial MX300 525 GB M2 SSD (vSAN Capacity)
– 1 ADATA Ultimate 128 GB M2 SSD (vSAN Caching)
– Be Quiet 750W PSU
– Aerocool P7-C0 Tower
– Enermax ETS-N30R CPU Cooler

Actually it was quite fun to build it! It has been some time since I built my last PC 🙂 🙂 🙂 Now I can continue and deploy some really cool VMware Dual Region stuff on the hardware like vCenter ELM, Stretched vSAN, Cross-VC NSX, SRM solutions and so on. I will not get bored in the coming period 🙂

Here are some pics I took during the assembly.


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