To implement new solutions, test new programs and new configurations before “touching” the production environment, I heavily rely on my home LAB where also most of my blog posts are taken from.

Since the hardware choice depends on the available budget and must respect the compatibility criteria as defined in the HCL VMware, I had to do some investigations to find the right configuration that best match my needs.


LAB schema




vlab03To save some money, my final choice was a whitebox server equipped with hardware ESXi compatible. Whiteboxes are configured to boot from USB.

To check if a hardware component is ESXi compatible, some websites (i.e. VM-Help) offer the list of tested hardware with ESXi installations.

  • MOBO: ASUS P8H67-M H67 i7/i5/i3 Crossfire DDR3 GLan SATA 3
  • CPU: Intel Core i5 2500 3.30Ghz Cache 6Mb Sandy Bridge LGA1155
  • NICs: 2 x Intel EXPI9301C TBLK Pro 1000 LAN
  • DISKs: Transcend 256GB SSD SATA III, SanDisk Cruzer Switch 4GB USB Flash Drive
  • CASE: TECHSOLO TC-020 Mini Tower Black 400W


Storage devices

vlab04The main LAB storage is the QNAP TS-421. It is an iSCSI model equipped with 4 x 2 TB disks in RAID 5 configuration. It is sized with different LUNs and NFS shares.

Total space: 6 TB


vlab05The secondary storage is a Synology DS214 equipped with 2 x 2 TB disks in RAID 1 configuration. This NAS is used for backup purposes only.

Total space: 2 TB



VMware cluster storage configuration




vlab07I’m currently using a Cisco SG300-10 10-Port Gigabit Managed Switch configured in layer 3 mode. It has some VLANs that need to talk to each other. The switch is configured with VLANs to separate LAN, vMotion, FT and iSCSI traffic.



I use another Linksys SD208 8-Port 10/100 switch just to extend the available ports plugging secondary devices only.




ESXi network configuration

vSwitch0: Management Network, VM Network, vMotion, FT traffic



vSwitch1: iSCSI Network

Having the chance to “play” with different systems, trying different functions/options and testing new solutions without impacting the production environment, it’s the key to improve and enhance your own knowledge and experience.