General Lab Gear

cknapp78cknapp78 Member Posts: 213 ■■■■□□□□□□
Hey guys,

Started along the path for finally getting my MCITP: EA and Messaging certs a few days ago. 15 years of delays seemed long enough. Going to knock off the 680 and 640 probably in the next month or so. Just waiting to get paid so I can reserve the dates. Either way...

Was wondering what you guys suggested for a decent lab environment (desktop or server). Have a basement office already set up from my days as a stay at home worker...however, most of my systems have been scrounged from many, many old parts. Enough to set up a small LAN and domain. Now that I am looking to move to the next level, I was just curious what you guys are using...including...

1. PC or Server
2. Switches
3. Firewall
4. Wireless
5. Anything else...including fridge for beer, etc..

I have already done a lot of the research but I didn't know if any of you know of any decent deals out there....

Keep in mind that most of my work will be along the lines of Messaging and SharePoint work. I will probably tackle either the Net+ or CCNA eventually but that is as far as I will go networking wise...

Comments

  • tr1xtr1x Member Posts: 213
    Honestly, for Microsoft stuff you just need a beefy PC that can run a bunch of VMs. If you want to learn Cisco but your job isn't really going to demand a lot of knowledge with it, just use GNS3 and Packet Tracer. As for the fridge, save space and just combine it with your PC:

  • dave330idave330i Member Posts: 2,091 ■■■■■■■■■■
    Cheapest is to get a 64 bit server with 4-8 gig RAM with 200+ gig HDD (after RAID) and install your favorite virtualization hypervisor. With ESXi you can run ~10 win2k8 VMs with this setup. Should run you $2-300 off ebay.
    2018 Certification Goals: Maybe VMware Sales Cert
    "Simplify, then add lightness" -Colin Chapman
  • kriscamaro68kriscamaro68 A+, Net+, Server+, Security+, Win7 MCP, Server 2012 Virtualization Specialist, MCSA 2012 Member Posts: 1,186 ■■■■■■■□□□
    My current setup is:
    athlon 6000+, 4gb ram, 60gb ssd, 750gb drive for storage, 2 nics- runs server 08r2, acts as ad ds, dns, and dhcp
    dual xeon 3.4ghz cpus, 8gb ram, 2 western digital 500gb drives 1 for os 1 for vm's, 4 nics, runs server08r2 with hyper-v
    core2quad 6700, 8gb ram, 500gb western digital black as primary os, 120gb ssd vm's, 3 nics, runs server 08r2 with hyper-v
    core2quad 9550, 16gb ram, 500gb western digital black as primary os, 240gb ssd vm's, 5 nics, runs server08r2 with hyper-v
    Corei7 920, 12gb ram, 2 120gb ssd's for os, 500gb western digital black for storage, 2nics, runs windows 7 ultimate with vmware workstation for hosts

    All of this is desktop parts and all work great for what they are used for. Labbing with vm's and ssd's is worth the price. Plus now that you can pick up mushkin ssd's for $1 gb it is worth it to me to save the frustration in waiting and its all tax write-offs for me.

    Also I got comcast business class internet and 5 static ip's so that I could separate my home network from my lab network. I also plan on having exchange on its own ip and a website on its own ip and guest wireless on its own ip. I can also set it up so that I can emulate a remote office for different things I want to do. I run a dell power connect 2716 as the main switch and have a trendnet 8 port gigabit switch and a 5 port linksys switch for the lab as well. I will be upgrading those 2 to a single dell powerconnect 2816 next month. I also have a cisco 871w and cisco wireless-n access point that I will be hooking up soon for a little cisco fun. I also have multiple home routers to separate the networks as well.

    If you are looking for deals on this kind of stuff I bought all my ssd's from newegg as they have the best price on them right now. I got the workstation with the xeons from a local university that has monthly sales of older equipment. I bought the q6700 from my dad when I upgraded his computer. I buy the memory newegg as well as they send me emails quite often with 10% off memory and other components. Every now and then amazon has good deals to.

    Check out your local university and schools as they will sell old equipment as discoutned prices. I bought the dual zeon setup for $15 and all it needed was a power supply it came with the rest and I already had a extra PS.
  • NobylspoonNobylspoon Member Posts: 620 ■■■□□□□□□□
    VMware + any decent 64bit PC. You really don't need too much RAM for Win2K8. I allocate 1GB for full installs and 512MB for Core installs. I keep my VMs on an external HDD to also use on my work laptop (Core i5 / 4GB).

    I would suggest trying VMWare Player first. It's free and easy to use. It now even lets you create VMs. Just go to technet.microsoft.com and download a trial of Win2K8 R2 if you don't already have it.

    I don't think VMWare Player includes the virtual networking tools though so you may want to consider upgrading when you are ready to join other VMs to your domain. I use VMWare Workstation (WGU students get 1 year license free). I have all my MCITP VMs networked together on a virtual network.
    WGU PROGRESS

    MS: Information Security & Assurance
    Start Date: December 2013
  • amplifyamplify Member Posts: 17 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I use VMs but I also have two Dell PowerEdge 1850s ($60 & $100 shipped from ebay) which are more responsive than VMs and provide a more realistic and fun home labbing environment. They do take up space and make some noise though.
    For the same reason I'll use physical routers & switches as well as simulators for CCNA (I'm shooting for both MCITP:EA and CCNA in 2012).

    Virtualization is great, but do you really feel competent walking into a production environment if you've never or rarely touched the equipment?
  • NobylspoonNobylspoon Member Posts: 620 ■■■□□□□□□□
    amplify wrote: »
    I use VMs but I also have two Dell PowerEdge 1850s ($60 & $100 shipped from ebay) which are more responsive than VMs and provide a more realistic and fun home labbing environment. They do take up space and make some noise though.
    For the same reason I'll use physical routers & switches as well as simulators for CCNA (I'm shooting for both MCITP:EA and CCNA in 2012).

    Virtualization is great, but do you really feel competent walking into a production environment if you've never or rarely touched the equipment?

    I guess it depends on your job. I manage 16 servers, 8 DBs and 2 load balancers and I seldom ever need to touch the equipment. 99% of my work is done from my laptop at my cubical :)
    WGU PROGRESS

    MS: Information Security & Assurance
    Start Date: December 2013
  • amplifyamplify Member Posts: 17 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Nobylspoon wrote: »
    I guess it depends on your job. I manage 16 servers, 8 DBs and 2 load balancers and I seldom ever need to touch the equipment. 99% of my work is done from my laptop at my cubical :)

    This is a good point, once you install the OS & Remote Desktop you'll never actually sit at the machine again :)

    But they do run much faster than my VMs.
  • cknapp78cknapp78 Member Posts: 213 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Thanks everyone for the great responses. Trust me I will definitely be virtualizing almost everything I can. I have been using VMWare and Hyper-V for almost 5 years. Heck, half of the 20,000 servers we are responsible for at work are VMs.

    If I had the room and a my wife didn't care, I would likely just grab an old rack and start throwing as many old 1-3U servers in it as I could. As it is, I have enough room for one or two servers or desktops...Wish I could do more....

    Figured I will probably just end up building my own Server/High-End PC since I am trying to keep the cost down. Plus I have seen some decent deals on NewEgg and TigerDirect for BareBones Kits.

    Thanks again guys.
  • JayTheCrackerJayTheCracker Member Posts: 169
    core i7 vs server?? to handle 2-3 server08' VMs
  • JayTheCrackerJayTheCracker Member Posts: 169
    i meant 2-6 server08 VMs >< core i7 still can handle?
  • NobylspoonNobylspoon Member Posts: 620 ■■■□□□□□□□
    i meant 2-6 server08 VMs >< core i7 still can handle?

    Yeah, your servers won't be using a lot of processing power while you are labbing. I would suggest a minimum of 8GB ram if you want to run 6 though. 1GB per server and 2GB for your host. I run Core installs with 512MB.
    WGU PROGRESS

    MS: Information Security & Assurance
    Start Date: December 2013
  • JayTheCrackerJayTheCracker Member Posts: 169
    Nobylspoon wrote: »
    Yeah, your servers won't be using a lot of processing power while you are labbing. I would suggest a minimum of 8GB ram if you want to run 6 though. 1GB per server and 2GB for your host. I run Core installs with 512MB.

    sorry, i asked wrong question. i just found out that there're so many types of core i7s ><
  • JeanMJeanM Member Posts: 1,117
    For PC/OS stuff, VM is fine as mentioned above. I used MS Virtual Server 2005, worked for w2k3 stuff, and was free.
    2015 goals - ccna voice / vmware vcp.
  • cknapp78cknapp78 Member Posts: 213 ■■■■□□□□□□
    For right now I am going to just use VMs on my HP Laptop. Not great but I will manage. I'll have to grab an XPS from Dell or something when I can afford it. Would rather spend money on study materials and paying rent first.
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