Probably the best way to learn any I.T. related technology is to run it on a homelab. Most people I know who have homelabs use Intel NUCs or SuperMicro machines with lots of memory and storage (most of time on large NAS devices) which can cost quite a bit of money. You can also get second hand servers but I don’t have the space for a whole server. An alternative is to get a used second hand workstation like a HP Z420 or Z620 that is capable of running a hypervisor. I purchased a HP Z620 with the following specification on Ebay for around £500:
Model: HP Z620 Workstation
The size of this unit is that of a Minitower so fits perfectly next to my gaming rig. It also has a large amount of room to extend the resources including internal drive bays.
CPU: 2 x Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2670 @ 2.60GHz
These came with the unit. Both have 8 cores with hyperthreading so we have 16 threads in total. The processor also supports Intel’s virtualization technology (VT-x) that is required for running a hypervisor. To work out the amount of logical processors we can use the following formulas.
First we have to workout the amount of physical CPUs we have, so we can use the formula:
(No of Processor Sockets) x (No Cores/Processor) x 2 (for hyper threading)
So in my case we have (2) x (8) x 2 = 32 Physical CPUs.
Next we need to work out the logical processors by using:
(No of physical CPU) x (2 threads)
Again in my case (32) x (2) = 64 Logical processors.
RAM: 128 GB
One consideration is that I need at least 12GB in order to run VMware’s vCenter server in a tiny environment and potentially more if I upgrade. The rest will be used on the other VM’s.
HDD 1: 256 GB SSD
HDD 2: 1 TB SSD
The computer came with the 1TB SSD. I added an extra 256 GB drive that I had spare. My plan is to use the 256 GB to store the initial ESXi installation and then build 3 ESXi VMs on that storage. The 1 TB storage will be used for the VMs.
The reason Im doing this is so I can play around with features such as vSAN, vMotion, etc.
Hopefully this guide and the others I want to write will help any beginners out there with their homelab.
Next time I’ll go through installing ESXi to the server. Click here for Part 2!