Now that 2011 is upon us, I’ve been focusing on updating my home lab so that I can prepare for the VMware VCAP exams as well as the Cisco CCNP exams, my goal is to finish both of these by the end of 2011. To accomplish this I needed to make some upgrades in my home lab. The first upgrade I needed to make was switching, about 2 weeks ago the only gigabit switch I had in my lab (a Linksys SRW2024) decided to take a permanent vacation and I set out to find a replacement. Since there is a switching exam for the CCNP my first thought was to replace it with something that would also help me on that exam, however I quickly found that a 24 port GbE switch just wasn’t going to happen given my lab budget. I did some research and found that a lot of people with home labs are using the HP ProCurve 1810g, so I ordered a 24 port model. I haven’t used HP switches much but I liked that it is fan less (noise is a concern for my lab, I can hear it running upstairs if I turn on all the equipment) and also that it comes with a lifetime warranty.
Next on my list was storage, right now I have a NetApp DS14 shelf with 14x72Gb FC disks. Remember how I said I can hear my lab upstairs? Well this guy is the main reason, not to mention the fact that it is getting too expensive to run – especially when you consider how much usable space I’m getting out of it and that this particular system cannot run dedupe. I had already been looking to upgrade my storage as I have a Drobo that I use with my Mac that has been giving me a lot of problems, I looked into most of the SMB offerings out there like the Iomega, QNAP, and Synology and in the end I picked the Synology DS1511+ I also picked up 5 2TB Seagate Barracuda XT drives to go in it, this should give me enough space to move everything from my Drobo as well as give me storage for my lab virtual machines. The Synology can do both NFS and iSCSI for my VMware environment, and for the moment I am planning on keeping my NetApp/Brocade equipment for the times I want to mock something up with FC.
After my wallet heals a little, I still need to buy a few more things, a couple of whitebox servers to use for ESXi hosts (I’m going with whitebox servers over something like a HP ML110 or a Dell T110 due to noise). I’m hoping to build one that supports 16Gb RAM, but may need to settle for 8Gb depending on cost, 2 of the virtual machines I will be running are the NetApp ONTAP 8.0.1 simulator as well as the EMC Celerra Uber VSA, together those two consume a good chunk of RAM by themselves – not to mention all the additional VMs I’m planning on running.
I also will need a couple of Cisco 3550 switches to use for L3 switching, and an additional 2950 switch to use for an access switch. I have a few Cisco 2600 routers (although none that are XM version) but I’m not sure if I have enough to properly do a routing lab, right now I’ve been using GNS3/Dynamips for my studying. I plan on making another (or multiple) posts on training material/equipment for the various CCNP exams as I go through my studies.