Updating #VMware #HomeLab Gen 5 to Gen 7

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Not to long ago I updated my Gen 4 Home Lab to Gen 5 and I posted many blogs and video around this.  The Gen 5 Lab ran well for vSphere 6.7 deployments but moving into vSphere 7.0 I had a few issues adapting it.  Mostly these issues were with the design of the Jingsha Motherboard.  I noted most of these challenges in the Gen 5 wrap up video. Additionally, I had some new networking requirements mainly around adding multiple Intel NIC ports and Home Lab Gen 5 was not going to adapt well or would be very costly to adapt.  These combined adaptions forced my hand to migrate to what I’m calling Home Lab Gen 7.  Wait a minute, what happen to Home Lab Gen 6? I decided to align my Home Lab Generation numbers to match vSphere release number, so I skipped Gen 6 to align.

First: I review my design goals:

  • Be able to run vSphere 7.x and vSAN Environment
  • Reuse as much as possible from Gen 5 Home lab, this will keep costs down
  • Choose products that bring value to the goals, are cost effective, and if they are on the VMware HCL that a plus but not necessary for a home lab
  • Keep networking (vSAN / FT) on 10Gbe MikroTik Switch
  • Support 4 x Intel Gbe Networks
  • Ensure there will be enough CPU cores and RAM to be able to support multiple VMware products (ESXi, VCSA, vSAN, vRO, vRA, NSX, LogInsight)
  • Be able to fit the the environment into 3 ESXi Hosts
  • The environment should run well, but doesn’t have to be a production level environment

Second – Evaluate Software, Hardware, and VM requirements:

My calculated numbers from my Gen 5 build will stay rather static for Gen 7.  The only update for Gen 7 is to use the updated requirements table which can be found here >>  ‘HOME LABS: A DEFINITIVE GUIDE’

Third – Home Lab Design Considerations

This too will be very similar to Gen 5, but I do review this table and made any last changes to my design

Four – Choosing Hardware

Based on my estimations above I’m going to need a very flexible Mobo, supporting lots of RAM, good network connectivity, and should be as compatible as possible with my Gen 5 hardware.  I’ve reused many parts from Gen 5 but the main change came with the Supermicro Motherboard and the addition of 2TB SAS HDD listed below.

Note: I’ve listed the newer items in Italics all other parts I’ve carried over from Gen 5.

Overview:

  • My Gen 7 Home Lab is based on vSphere 7 (VCSA, ESXi, and vSAN) and it contains 3 x ESXi Hosts, 1 x Windows 10 Workstation,  4 x Cisco Switches, 1 x MikroTik 10gbe Switch, 2 x APC UPS

ESXi Hosts:

  • Case:
  • Motherboard:
  • CPU:
    • CPU: Xeon E5-2640 v2 8 Cores / 16 HT (Ebay $30 each)
    • CPU Cooler: DEEPCOOL GAMMAXX 400 (Amazon $19)
  • RAM:
    • 128GB DDR3 ECC RAM (Ebay $170)
  • Disks:
    • 64GB USB Thumb Drive (Boot)
    • 2 x 200 SAS SSD (vSAN Cache)
    • 2 x 2TB SAS HDD (vSAN Capacity – See this post)
    • 1 x 2TB SATA (Extra Space)
  • SAS Controller:
    • 1 x IBM 5210 JBOD (Ebay)
    • CableCreation Internal Mini SAS SFF-8643 to (4) 29pin SFF-8482 (Amazon $18)
  • Network:
    • Motherboard Integrated i350 1gbe 4 Port
    • 1 x MellanoxConnectX3 Dual Port (HP INFINIBAND 4X DDR PCI-E HCA CARD 452372-001)
  • Power Supply:
    • Antec Earthwatts 500-600 Watt (Adapters needed to support case and motherboard connections)
      • Adapter: Dual 8(4+4) Pin Male for Motherboard Power Adapter Cable (Amazon $11)
      • Adapter: LP4 Molex Male to ATX 4 pin Male Auxiliary (Amazon $11)
      • Power Supply Extension Cable: StarTech.com 8in 24 Pin ATX 2.01 Power Extension Cable (Amazon $9)

Network:

  • Core VM Switches:
    • 2 x Cisco 3650 (WS-C3560CG-8TC-S 8 Gigabit Ports, 2 Uplink)
    • 2 x Cisco 2960 (WS-C2960G-8TC-L)
  • 10gbe Network:
    • 1 x MikroTik 10gbe CN309 (Used for vSAN and Replication Network)
    • 2 ea. x HP 684517-001 Twinax SFP 10gbe 0.5m DAC Cable (Ebay)
    • 2 ea. x MELLANOX QSFP/SFP ADAPTER 655874-B21 MAM1Q00A-QSA (Ebay)

Battery Backup UPS:

  • 2 x APC NS1250

Windows 10 Workstation:

Thanks for reading, please do reach out if you have any questions.

If you like my ‘no-nonsense’ videos and blogs that get straight to the point… then post a comment or let me know… Else, I’ll start posting really boring content!

2 thoughts on “Updating #VMware #HomeLab Gen 5 to Gen 7

    jabbertech said:
    May 16, 2021 at 10:43 pm

    I don’t understand how the X9DRD-7LN4F-JBOD is working on ESX 7.0 given It does not seam to be on the Vmware HCL. Can you confirm ?

    Like

      Matt Mancini responded:
      May 17, 2021 at 8:14 am

      Thank you for the comment. Your system has to be on the Hardware Compatibly List (HCL) when you want your system to be supported by VMware. Most home labs run on commodity hardware that is not on the HCL with the understanding there is no support whatsoever. However, I will say the closer you stay towards the HCL the better Home Lab experience you are going to have. Case in point, the Supermicro Mobo X9DRD-7LN4F-JBOD, it has some components that are on the HCL (Network Chipsets, RMDA Controller, CPU’s) and some that is not. Its a good compromise for a Home Lab as its low in cost and has some partially supported items. However, partially supported will never be supported. If you want a system supported by VMware you must be 100% on the HCL. I hope this clears things up. Thanks!

      Like

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