The Nooks have landed

I have been meaning to start a tech blog for years now and my decision to build a home VMWare lab is the perfect place to start. This first post is an introduction to what I am planning to build. The how will come later. For now I will simply introduce my Intel NUCs to the world.

In order to build a proper VMWare lab (with VSAN) I need a minimum of 3 hosts. Yes, I can do it with 2 but that’s compromising the build. In an ideal world I would have 4 but its unnecessary for a home lab.

My parts list:
3 * Intel NUCs. NUC7I3BNH
3 * Seagate Barracuda 1TB SATAs
3 * Samsung SM961 128GB Polaris NVMe M.2 SSDs
6 * Crucial DDR4 SODIMM 16GB (32 Per host)
3 * Sandisk 32GB USB flash drives
1 * Netgear ProSafe Switch GS105E

I’ll Explain the rational to this kit but some of it is obvious. Firstly the Nucs or nooks as they are also known; I went for the i3 version, mostly for cost reasons but I don’t imagine I will over stress my lab. I will be using it to figure stuff out and learn new things so it will be a tame enough life that they will lead.
The 1TB Barracudas could easily have been 2 or 4TB but as I was keeping cost down, I went with the 128GB SSDs. As I want to build VSAN, a good recommendation (and that’s all it really is) is to keep the cache drives at ~10% of the non-cache drives. So with that in mind, I wasn’t going to stump up near twice the price for the 256GB so I limited myself to the 1TB SATAs.  I hope this wasn’t a mistake on my part, but if it turns out to be, I can always buy larger drives later. These 1TB SATAs will find a nice home in my Synology NAS. On the point of a NAS.. Im not intending to use one .. yet. Time will tell.
The RAM speaks for itself. I maxed out the capacity of the Nucs. In my experience RAM is the commodity in an vSphere cluster rather than CPU or disk.
The 3 SanDisk USBs will hold ESX, and 32GB will be more than enough. The cost differential between 16 and 32 was negligible so I went with 32GB.
Finally the netgear switch; this particular one supports 64 vlans if memory serves me correctly and as there is only one NIC in the Nuc (yes I heard it) I will need to use vlan tagging. Not that I will use any more than a handful, but having the ability to use vlans was essential.

At this point I cant argue that any of those decisions are correct, time will tell. Part of this is the fun of figuring it all out. I want to experiment with VSAN, NSX and VIC in an environment where I can tear it down and rebuild it as I see fit and as often as I see fit. Hopefully I will create a way to automate the tear down and rebuild if I need to too.

My next post will be on the assembly of these babies. They are tiny little things so they fit the name.

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