Lab Designs

This page contains sample lab designs from various folks around the globe. They include all of the parts and pieces, at least from a general level, in order to build a home lab.

If you have any to add to the list, leave a comment below.

Wahl Network Home Lab by Chris Wahl – This lab features a number of different products to learn vSphere, Cisco, HP, and various protocols. A lot of the components are whitebox or purchased refurbished.

vCloud “In A Box” Design by Chris Colotti – Chris outlines a slick way to get a vCloud environment running in a home lab specifically designed around this goal. All of the components and software pieces are listed.

vHersey’s Home Lab in Workstation by Hersey Cartwright – This is the lab configuration that Hersey put together to study for the VCP5, and is run entirely inside of VMware Workstation 8 on a desktop machine.

Poor Man’s SRM Lab by Eric Shanks – You’ll see how Eric has configured his lab to run VMware’s SRM product inside of nested virtual ESXi servers with virtual NetApp simulators. I also feature this lab as a server, since the entire design relies on a single whitebox tower.

Nested HP DL380 G5 Lab by Andreas Lesslhumer – This design does a great job at laying out all of the components necessary to build out an entire lab on a server class piece of hardware. It uses openfiler, the vCSA, and nested ESXi.

VMware Home Lab Version 2 by David Hill – David has a very price-point friendly design that leverages HP compute, Iomega storage, and Netgear networking. He does a great job at outlining his design into management, vSphere, and vCloud.

Simon’s Gigabyte Brix Lab by Simon Eady – Simon does an excellent job at creating a learning lab while focusing on a low price point by using a variety of Gigabyte Brix compute, Synology storage, and Cisco small business networking.

Technobabble Home Lab by David Klee – Mix together some solid design, creative purchasing of refurbished equipment, and snappy airflow and you’ll have something similar to what David Klee has put together. He relies on HP and Supermicro compute, OpenFiler and Synology storage, and a mix of networking boxes.

vSkilled Home Lab by Karl Nyen – This super detailed post covers everything from compute, storage, networking, power consumption, fire extinguishers, and much more. A great example of how to document the entire stack from end-to-end.

19 Responses

  1. David Hill
    David Hill at |

    Hey Chris, I linked through to your page from my VMware homelab page.

  2. at |

    Hey Chris, I have just updated my VMware Home Lab and wrote a new article. Wondered if you wanted to update the link.

  3. Amritanshu Ranjan
    Amritanshu Ranjan at |

    Hi Chris,
    Not sure if I should ask this question here.
    I have been working on Application packaging and App-V and SCCM application distribution for last 5 years in my company. Its neither fun nor paying now.
    I want to move to next big thing that is CLOUD. I want to create environment at home, do certifications and learn every in and out of it. I have a PC (i5 4670k 32 GB RAM). Issue is I have very limited knowledge on Servers, AD or any programming language. I dont know where to start from. Moreover, which one to start with as there are so many in the market (Microsoft, EMC, AWS etc). Need a kick start and your important comments will add some help.


    1. Amritanshu Ranjan
      Amritanshu Ranjan at |

      oops ..forgot to add Notify me via e-mail.

  4. Nishant .Bhardwaj
    Nishant .Bhardwaj at |

    Hi Chris,
    I am complete noob in building home lab. I still want to go ahed and build it though. Can you point me to any links on what other cabling, thermal compund and other minor accessories are needed to complete the build ? Any related youtube video link would be great help because I am bit nervous doing all things manually first time.

    Please also suggest as a fallback does this boston value series server(link below) comes close to your build ? What customizations you would suggest, thank you!

  5. bhardwajn
    bhardwajn at |

    Hi Wahl,
    Thank you so much for those encouraging words. I now have the SM mobo with me but there is a warning printed on the outside of the box that scares me! It says to open the box only in anti-static environment. Now what must be done to handle static while building the server ? On internet there seem to be two opinions for everything related to static. I myself never cared about static while upgrading RAM on my laptops or doing minor repair work on them. Buying an anti-static wrist strap is suggested way, but how we ground it is a topic of debate. Some suggest to connect to the fan grill of PSU unit while it is disconnected from mains while others suggest to connect PSU unit to the mains and switch off the power supply. The 2nd option is really dangerous because if the mains do not have proper grounding, there is a clear risk of electrocution.


  6. Dat Colin
    Dat Colin at |

    Hi Chris,

    I’m building a nested lab for my DC and NSX lab prep.

    The host I have has Dual quad Intel procs, 256 Gig of RAM, Quad 1Gig NIC’s and 2x10Gig Dual NIC’s. 1 TB of SSD.

    My question is that will I be able to test all the features within a nested host or Do i need to go for individual 4 hosts.


  7. Chris Conlan
    Chris Conlan at |

    Chris, I’m looking at setting up a new lab and wanting to offload my equipment. I didn’t just want to post stuff about it. Wondering if it is OK to post something about it?

  8. Chris Conlan
    Chris Conlan at |

    Yeah. I figured I’d ask first before posting anything. Just know there are some people looking for a test lab and hesitant on buying equipment because they’re not sure if it’ll work. Off to Ebay.

  9. vmwaretuts
    vmwaretuts at |

    Hi Chris,

    Not sure whether am allowed to share my problem here. But, i hope you help me on this.

    I have a lab which is running on AMD 6100 processor with 32 GB RAM.
    I have a nested visualization which is running 2 * Vsphere hosts.
    The Vsphere client frequently looses connectivity with the hosts although i have enabled promiscuous mode and forged transmits.

    Any lead on this would be really helpful as i can’t practice anything on my lab.

    Thanks in advise.

  10. Mukthar
    Mukthar at |

    I am planning to buy a laptop to build a virtual lab at home with VMware Workstation (ESXi hosts).
    Need your advice/help to find laptop with following configuration.
    SSD 500 GB
    HD 1TB
    32 GB RAM
    CPU quad core or octa core i7 above 2.7 Ghz
    Please let me the best laptop for nested lab.

  11. chrisfwilliams
    chrisfwilliams at |

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