Home Lab Updates

Back in December, I wrote about my home lab setup.  In the last few months, I’ve made a lot of changes to my lab as I’ve added new hardware and capabilities and shuffled some other equipment around to new roles.  It’s also changed locations as my wife and I moved into a new house last month.

The “newest” hardware in my lab is all used gear that I picked up off of eBay.  There were some great deals on custom Dell-built cloud servers from a large cloud provider that more than tripled the overall capacity of my lab.  The server run older AMD 2419EE processors, so they trade a lot of performance for power efficiency, and come with 48GB of RAM each.  They have their own set of quirks that need to be worked around, but that said, they do run vSphere 5.5 well.

The Dell servers can be rather finicky with the network switches that they work with, and the Linksys that I got late last year was swapped out for a Juniper EX4200 that I was able to get on loan from my employer.

The PowerEdge T110 II that I purchased last year has been moved from being a computer node to my primary storage node, and the storage OS has been migrated from OmniOS to Nexenta 4.0.  The PowerEdge T310 that was previously hosting storage has been retired, and I am selling it to a co-worker who is looking to start his own lab up.

I’ve also expanded the Fibre Channel footprint of my lab, and all my servers are connected to storage via Fibre Channel.  I recently picked up a Silkworm 3250 on eBay for $30.  I was also able to pick up a few 4GB QLogic 2450 cards for about $8 a piece. 

There is still some work that needs to be done on the lab.  I need to run some new electrical circuits into my makeshift server room as well as add some venting to take care of the excess heat.  I also plan on running Ethernet throughout the new house, and that will all terminate at my lab as well.

Wisconsin VMUG User Conference Preview

The Wisconsin VMUG will be holding their annual user conference next week.  If you haven’t had a chance to register for the event yet, you can do so here.

Some of the highlights on this year’s agenda are:

  • Wisconsin VMUG board member and MATC instructor Brian Kirch will be doing a vSphere 101 presentation during the first breakout block.
  • Amy Manley and Nick Coyle of Catamaran Corporation will be doing an updated version of their vCenter Orchestrator presentation that they did at the Chicago VMUG Conference in October.
  • vExpert Jeremy Gruenke of Johnsonville and Chris Wahl from Ahead IT will be doing a session on Horizon View upgrades.
  • A new addition to the agenda is an Ask The Experts panel that will run during the last breakout block.  The expert panel consists of Roger Lund of the MN VMUG, Matt Leib, Brandon Hahn, Larry Orloff, and Tim Curless.

I will be doing a session during the final breakout block on home labs.

The keynote session will be a presentation on network virtualization, and the lunch session will be an introduction to Horizon 6.

Veeam will be sponsoring a post-conference reception.

The conference will be at the Marriott Madison West in Madison and runs from 8:15 AM until about 5:00 PM.

Quick Bites–Nexenta 4 Released, Horizon 6 Announced

Nexenta 4.0.1 Reaches GA

Earlier this week, Nexenta announced that the Community Edition of Nexenta 4.0 was generally available.  This long awaited release uses an Illumos-based kernel and adds several new features including support for SMB 2.1.

I have the new version set up in my lab, and it seems to be working well so far.  The issues that I experienced with the previous versions no longer appear to be an issue, and it has been running rock solid for the last couple of days.

You can read the release announcement here.

Note: The download link is not currently active on the Nexentastor website.  The ISO was available for download until recently via a direct link.

Horizon 6 Announced

Yesterday, VMware announced the latest version of the Horizon end-user computer product suite – Horizon 6.

The newest feature in Horizon 6 is an RDSH application remoting solution that is built on PCoIP and Blast that puts VMware in direct competition with Citrix.

I look forward to getting this product into my home lab for testing.


VMware’s vExpert program is a program that recognizes people who are active contributors to the greater VMware community – either by organizing events that bring people together or by sharing their expertise and knowledge with others through blogs, presentations, or talks.

Yesterday, VMware announced the list of vExperts for 2014.  I’m honored to be included on this list.

I’d like to thank Corey Romero (Twitter: @vCommunityGuy) and John Troyer (Twitter: @jtroyer) for this opportunity.

I’d like to give a shoutout to the members of the Wisconsin VMware Users Group who were also recognized as vExperts:

Rod Gabriel (Twitter: @ThatFridgeGuy)

Mike Nelson (Twitter: @nelsmedia)

Brian Kirsch (Twitter: @bckirsch)

Nathan Schuenemann (Twitter: @chickendilla)

Bob Plankers (Twitter: @plankers, Blog: http://lonesysadmin.net/)

Brandon Hahn (Twitter: @brandonhahn Blog: http://www.brandonhahn.org/)

Jeremy Gruenke (Twitter: @grinks311)