Month: June 2014

New Project: ESXi Home lab

Hey all!

I’m fresh off working with the folks at AppSense ( for a proof-of-concept at a hospital. I’m a road warrior cloud engineer, where technology changes constantly. Combine that with the fact that I have a new 1 year lab license from the AppSense engagement,  and partner licenses for other software… and I need to sit down and put together a real ESXi homelab.

We predominately work with Cisco UCS at work – needless to say, that’s beyond overkill for a lab and well beyond the budget in terms of acquisition cost, utility cost and acoustic sanity.

So what to do? I’m starting to sketch out requirements based on acquisition cost, recurring costs, and if my wife will let me bring it in the door. Namely:

  • Relatively low power consumption
  • Core i5 processor
  • Enough iOPS to run a VDI load
  • Sufficient memory
  • Un-noticeably quiet

With these requirements in mind I set off to Amazon. I haven’t purchased anything yet, but I’m leaning toward this configuration:

– The Shuttle box is a nice form factor, able to run a Core i2/5/7 processor with 32G of RAM, has enough upgradeability for what I’m going to use it for, and a 300w power supply. I need to have at least two of them, so these things complement each other well.

-The Intel Core i5 is the sweet spot for price and performance- 3.0GHz with 4 physical cores – 8 with hyperthreading.

– 32G of RAM is the most this box will hold. Hopefully this will be good enough at this time for the lab. I foresee a time in the future where I’ll need to separate light and heavy workloads- a SQL server will run though that much memory all by itself, so I’ll have to be conscientious of that.

– 250G Sata III SSD drive- This will be the top tier storage in this system, the home for OS drives and VMware View replicas

– 3 TB Sata III 7200RPM drive – This is the bottom tier of storage- This is user and fileserver storage

– Intel QP NIC – The internet is rife with complaints of people trying to use the Shuttle box with ESXi and running into networking issues – the Intel QP nics are nearly universally supported by VMware and this card gives me sufficient numbers of ports for local, management, storage, Fault Tolerance and vMotion capability.

– SanDisk 16G low profile flash – I plan to boot ESXi 5.5 from this flash device, preserving the internal drives to handle the VM storage requirements instead of losing a portion to the hypervisor.

Now that I have all this hardware and assembled the machines, now what?
Click to move on to configuration!