Homelab Makeover 2.0

| 31/12/2017 | Tags: , , , ,

Hello and first off, thank so much for visiting my blog!  If you have followed any part of my “Homelab” series, you will be familiar with the components that make up my home “Datacenter”.  If not, take some time to catch up on those posts!

In this post, I am quickly going to cover my lab makeover as I decided to get some new equipment and redo a bunch of my networking.  So without any further hesitation, let’s get to it!

Beginning with my networking equipment, I wanted to move my Cisco SG300-10 out of my home network enclosure cabinet and into my Navepoint rack enclosure.  But then I realized I would have to replace that switch with another to feed the rest of my homes connections.  Currently, I am using Ubiquiti’s UniFi equipment for my home networking and since I’m already running Ubiquiti gear, I figured I would purchase a few more of their 8-port switches to do the job so that I can manage those devices from a “single-pane-of-glass” via the controller.  So I went ahead and purchased 2 US-8 switches, in which 1 will feed the home networking and the other will extend to the lab primarily serving as a trunk for my VLANs to reach the labs Cisco switches.

So now, my UniFi network consists of:

On to the lab network…

The US-8-LAB switch connects to my SG300-10 which I’ve configured 2-ports as a LAG “Trunk” between the switches for VLAN traffic, 2-ports as another LAG “Trunk” connection to the SG300-52 switch, and the others as “Access” ports which connect to the IPMI interfaces of my servers.  The IPMI connections were previously on my SG300-52 switch.  On to the SG300-52 switch, I have configured all of my ESXi management ports, vMotion ports, iSCSI & NFS ports, VSAN ports, and data ports for my servers, along with a few LAG connections which connect to my storage devices, and a few which connect my UPS and ATS/PDU units.  I also configured an additional LAG “Trunk” which connects to a Netgear Prosafe GS108T that I had laying around.  I’ve dedicated that switch and it’sports for my ex-gaming PC turned “DEV” ESXi host.  Eventually, that host will be decommissioned when I add a new host to my rack enclosure.

So now, my lab network consists of:

Now for the storage devices.  Previously, I was running my lab VMs using a Synology DS415+ storage unit via NFS mounts.  This was all fine and dandy, except for the fact that it would randomly shut itself down for no apparent reason, leading to eventual corruption of my VMs.  I got tired of spending hours trying to recover my machines and eventually discovered that my device was plagued by the Intel ATOM C2000 CPU issue described here.  I then reached out to Synology and they quickly responded and issued an immediate RMA of the device.  Again this was fine, but where was I going to move my VMs and data too?  I didn’t have another storage device with an ample amount of free space to accommodate all my data, so I decided to bite the bullet and pick up a brand new Synology RS815+ which I could now mount in my rack enclosure.  I also scooped up some 1TB SSDs from their compatibility matrix to populate the drive bays.  The difference here is that with the new RackStation, I opted to configure my LUNs via iSCSI instead of NFS like I had previously done with the DiskStation.  Once set up and connected, I vMotion’d all of my machines to the new device, and disconnected the DS415+ while I waited for the replacement device to arrive.  That replacement unit eventually came, so I swapped my SSD’s from the old unit into the new unit and fired it back up.  I will eventually recreate some NFS mounts and reconnect them to the vSphere environment.

Now, my lab storage consists of:

Finally, the cabinet.  I became rather displeased with the amount of space I had with my Navepoint 9U 450mm enclosure.  The case itself was great, but I just needed some more room in the event I needed to un-rack a server or do anything else in there.  Also, I started to do some “forward-thinking” about eventual future expansion, and the current 9U enclosure was no longer going to suffice.  I decided to upgrade to a new Navepoint 18U 600mm enclosure, and now I have plenty of room for all of my equipment and future expansion.  After relocating my servers to the new rack enclosure, I now have the following equipment mounted in the rack and, still, have room for growth.

  • 2 x Cat6 keystone patch panels
  • 2 x Cisco SG300 switches
  • 4 x Supermicro servers
  • 1 x Synology storage unit
  • 1 x UPS
  • 1 x ATS/PDU
  • 1 x CyberPower Surge power strip (in the event I need to plug-in some other stuff)

Thanks for stopping by!  Please do leave some comments as feedback is always appreciated!  Until next time!



Home Lab 2017 – Part 1 (Network and Lab Overhaul)

| 12/02/2017 | Tags: , , ,

For the last 6+ months, I haven’t had much time to dedicate to my home lab and overall home network.  Between holidays, transitioning to a new employer/role, and everyday life getting in the way, I found that I had to put everything on the back burner for a bit…so I inevitably shutdown by home lab. Well now I am back and am looking forward to writing up some new material that I have been meaning to do for a while.  I will start this by saying this is a continuation of my Home Lab 2016 Series, now being dubbed as “Home Lab 2017“!

So first and foremost, I powered up my home lab once again and I intend to leave it up and running at 100% uptime.  While doing so, my Synology NAS decided to reboot itself for an auto-update, right in the middle of a VM’s (my domain controller to be exact) boot process.  This would eventually cause my VMDK file to become corrupted and I could no longer boot my DC and reconnect my home lab.  I also had not yet backed anything up since the environment was still fairly new so I figured why not take this opportunity to rebuild everything and get some new components.

I decided to add a few more (3 per host to be exact), extremely quiet, Noctua NF-A4x10 FLX 40mm  fans.  This will help to keep my ATOM CPU cool as well as exhaust any hot air from out of each case.  I had also been contemplating on doing a Network equipment overhaul.  Last year I upgraded my ASUS RT-AC68U SOHO Router with a Ubiquiti ERLite-3 EdgeRouter, and turned the ASUS into a wireless AP only.  I do not have a single complaint in the performance and overall stability of that setup.  But I recently began looking at the Ubiquiti UniFi gear, and noticed that it the Unified Security Gateway basically runs the same EdgeOS found in the ERLite-3, just with a different web-interface.  Realizing that we are in this new wave of cloud-managed networking, and seeing that the USG-3P was basically on-par with the ERLite-3, I bit the bullet and ordered my new Ubiquiti UniFi gear to replace my current setup.  The featureset in the EdgeRouter series of routers still has the edge over the UniFi’s features but it’s only a matter of time before they are equal, or UniFi surpasses the EdgeRouters.

I decided on the following products:

After getting everything connected, I will say that I was extremely impressed with the ease of setup, current feature set, and the presentation of the Web UI.  I am not going to go into the specifics of how to set it all up, etc. as this is not a UniFi tutorial, but I will say that the little quick start guides tell you everything you need to know.  One can also consult “Mr. Google” for more information.  

My only gripe with the current feature set of the USG-3P is that there is no support for Jumbo Frames…yet!…but hopefully that will come in a future firmware release.  The US-8-60W does indeed support Jumbo Frames so I enabled in on there at least for now.  Additionally, the VOIP LAN port on the USG-3P is there for a future release to add support for it.  I have also read some threads were feature requests have been submitted to allow said port to be used as a secondary LAN/WAN port instead of just for VOIP.  This is currently in beta, but once these settings are added, I feel it would bring the device closer to the capabilities of the ERLite-3 in terms of features. Only time will tell…

Now that I had my basic home network configured, LAN & WiFi-LAN, I powered on my Cisco lab switches and began migrating all of my VLANs over to the new USG-3P, thus removing the need for any static routing which I relied on with my previous setup.  Next, I powered on all of my hosts, and began upgrading them to ESXi 6.5.  Finally, I was finally on my way to getting up to the latest release of vSphere!  Once all of my hosts were upgraded, with the exception of my dev-host as the CPU is not supported in ESXi 6.5, I began spinning up a few new VMs.  I took this time to install Windows Server 2016 for my Domain Controllers, and decided to ditch the Windows-based vCenter server in favor of the vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) since it now has vSphere Update Manager (vUM) integration and the appliance runs on VMware’s Photon OS.

Once my vSphere environment was minimally setup, I started to deploy some more VM’s with the vSphere Web Client, and I must say the speed and performance of the Web Client in 6.5 is “night-and-day” as compared to the Web Client in 6.0!  Nore more need for the Client Integration Plugin as the newer version for 6.5 runs as a service.  This is the way the web client should have been designed from the very beginning instead of making us all suffer because of how slow the Flash-based version previously was.  Although I always preferred to use the Web Client because of the features within it, I can see why so many users still used the C# “fat-client” instead.  Who wants to wait forever and a year just for the Hosts and Clusters view, or VM’s and Templates view to load?!?!?  I know that I dreaded the loading times.  Currently, my vSphere lab consists of the following machines…for now.

  • 2 – Domain Controllers (I’ve learned my lesson and the consequences of only having one DC…)
  • 1 – vCenter Server Appliance
  • 1 – vSphere Data Protection Appliance
  • 1 – Windows 10 Management Jumpbox
  • 1 – IP Address Management Server (phpIPAM)
  • 1 – Mail Server (hMailServer)
  • 1 – WSUS Server
  • 1 – SCCM Server ( I am currently teaching this to myself and may eventually leverage SUP, thus replacing/repurposing my current WSUS server)
  • 1 – vRealize Configuration Manager (vCM) Server ( I am also teaching this to myself as to become more familiar with the product and its capabilities)
  • 1 – OpenVPN Appliance

So now that my Home Lab has been upgraded and completely rebuilt, I look forward to spending more time tinkering with it and putting it to good use for exam studies and personal knowledge.  I am dedicating my Sundays as “Home Lab Fun-days”!  Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed the read! Please comment below and subscribe!