A bit late to the party – but new home lab!

I finally saved enough money to get myself a respectable homelab. Many people have had home labs for years, I’m a little late on that bandwagon. But better late than never.  I spent a bit more than I wanted, but I cost-justified part of it by eliminating Dropbox. Dealing with our volume of home photos and videos is a continual frustrating timesink. We have been syncing our photos to Dropbox, but as I always preach to customers, sync is not backup. I have been manually storing zipfiles of monthly photos up in Glacier as emergency recovery, but I had fallen behind.  Dropbox lost two months of our photos that I will never be able to get back.  I decided that along with serving my homelab needs, any storage solution that I purchased absolutely had to support sync directly from my endpoints as well as to multiple clouds. Since I knew I was going to buy a NAS, this effectively eliminated VSAN as a contender for the homelab.

I spent a little time looking around, but decided I didn’t want to deal with something like FreeNAS on a custom-built box. Many of my other fellow engineers are happy with their Synology devices, so that’s what I went with.

32GB of RAM was just not enough for me, eliminating the NUCs from contention. One of our SDDC specialists suggested that I check out Shuttle‘s line of barebones PCs – I found a model that supports 64GB of RAM

For storage, I decided to split my photos on separate spindles, so a RAID-1 pair of two
2TB 5400RPM drives fit the bill nicely. I saved money and didn’t put any storage inside the Shuttles, instead opting for boot-from-USB.

For my VM storage, I went with a 4-drive RAID-5 with a 256GB Flash read/write cache. I’ve ready blog entries both for and against the Synology cache. Some people says it makes no difference, some says it makes a huge difference. So far I’d say it makes a huge difference in VM performance.

The shuttle PCs only come with a single onboard NIC, to do anything useful I bought a quad port gigabit NIC for each host.

Here is my BOM. I bought everything new from Amazon except for the Cisco switch, which was about $100 on ebay. I was a little disappointed to find that Amazon’s regular pricing was cheaper than any of our employee discounts. The total spend was much higher than I originally thought – but given the photo sync requirements, I think this was the best solution that satisfies my need to learn and my need to protect our irreplaceable photos.

Kingston 64GB 4x16GB  (HX421C14FBK4/64)  (Qty 2)
Intel Core I5 6500 3.20 GHz Quad Core Skylake   (Qty 2)
Shuttle XPC Cube SH170R6  (Qty 2)
Synology 8-Bay DS1815+  (Qty 1)
WD WD20EFRX 2TB 5400 SATA 6GB    (Qty 2)
WD WD2002FFSX 2TB 7200 Red Pro SATA 6GB  (Qty 4)
Trancend 256GB MLC Sata III  (Qty 2)
Intel I340-T4 Quad Ethernet Adaptor (Qty 2)
Cisco WS-C3750G-24T Gigabit Switch with ipservices
Display port to VGA adaptors (Qty 2)
10-pack of 2GB USB Flash drives

Here it is all assembled. The kids even got in on the action, my oldest installed the RAM and CPU and my youngest installed the Quad NIC!


Problem with Home Lab SSD

I’ve started building a home lab and wanted to put up a quick post on a problem I had standing up my new Synology. I’ve been in presales for almost two years now, and not working with hardware every day really makes you rusty.  That things that were once plainly obvious are just gone from memory. The Synology has 3.5″ drive bays, but I bought a couple of Transcend 2.5″ SSDs that were on the Synology HCL. The SSDs came with a mounting bracket and I spent a somewhat embarrassing amount of time trying to get the bracket to work. But I couldn’t get the holes to line up – no matter how I attached the drive to the tray, it wouldn’t fit into the Synology. The solution was so obvious that there really wasn’t anything that I could find on Google – the drive trays already have mounting holes. Just screw the 2.5″ SSD directly into the drive tray. I felt a bit foolish but at least it’s working now!

Drive tray mounting holes