If you haven’t already I encourage you to check out William Lam’s Homelab build page where the community is sharing details on what they’re using to run their labs. This is a great resource for the community and it’s interesting to me, as a VMware employee, to see what’s being used/tested out there.
So here’s what I currently have going on in mine.
Hardware wise I have physical boxes with the following config:
For external storage I use a Q-NAP TS-932X, I use the two 10Gb SFP+ ports to connect 1 to my Internal (home) network and 1 to my lab network. I have four 8GB Seagate IronWolfs in a RAID 5, and two 1TB WD SSD’s in a raid 1 for auto-tiering.
Network wise everything is Unifi, I run a 16 port XG switch for 10Gb, 2 x 48 port switches for 1Gb connections, 1 located in the house and 1 in my office connected over 10Gb fiber (these serve my home network as well) and a few PoE switches for powering the 8 AP’s I need to cover my home. For routing/firewall I use a Unifi USG Pro configured for BGP peering down to an NSX-T active/active T0 gateway. This device also serves as my Internet gateway for the lab and home networks.
2 x Apple Mac mini’s with 16 GB of RAM, I use these as an infrastructure cluster where my main vCenter Server for the lab hardware and my domain controller sit. Nothing special about them, they have 2 1Gb network connections each and mount an NFS datastore off the Q-NAP.
1 Dell T-440 with a rack mount kit. This is the workhorse, it has 2 Intel(R) Xeon(R) Gold 5118 CPU @ 2.30GHz for a total of 48 logical cores and 1 TB of RAM. For storage I have a 225 GB Boss card for boot and ISO storage and 3 1.5 TB SSD’s in a Raid 0 (it’s a lab, I care more about capacity then availability). The T-440 also has an dual port SFP+ 10Gb Intel Nic which is connected to the Unifi XG switch.
Software wise everything is always changing depending on what I’m working on. Currently the physical servers are running 6.7 U3. I then run nested ESXi hosts on the T-440. At this moment I have 8 nested hosts running some unreleased ESXi, vCenter Server and NSX-T builds. When not testing unreleased functionality, since I now work in our Telco and Edge Cloud BU, I often have either VIO or vCD or at times both running as well.