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Hardware Networking VMware

HomeLab Upgrades

Well, I’m learning a painful lesson about running a #HomeLab environment 24/7: Electricity is Expensive! I had always heard electricity was more expensive in Korea, but after 3 consecutive months of a higher electric bill (well above average) I’m now a believer. Unfortunately, I need to find a way to cut the bill before the summer months come and I need to run the A/C to keep the systems from melting. I had been keeping the window open during these past few months, so cooling has been handled without using electricity (outside temp 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit–office temp 73 degrees). But the temps are starting to heat up outside, so I need a new solution. The Dell is just drawing too much electricity and generating too much heat for my home office.

My wonderful other half asks on a regular basis if I need to keep it all running all the time. Well, I use NSX-T and my DNS for my regular network. And as many who do this more than I can attest, it takes a significant amount of time to bring up or take down a full HomeLab stack. And I’ve worked in IT long enough to know that things that go down don’t always come back up again the same way.

So what am I looking at now? Well, I’ve been looking at a lot of HomeLab builds on Reddit and the web to see what each of you are running. My NUC is a capable little server, but he just isn’t strong enough to run a full set of basic services (vCenter, NSX-T Manager, NSX-T Edge, Domain Controller/DNS, and NFS server). The 4-core i5 in my Gen10 NUC just can’t keep up.

I’ve decided on either a SuperMicro E300-9D or a SuperMicro SuperServer 5019D. Both are 8-core single processor systems in their IoT/Embedded product line. The 5019 has the benefit of being rack-mounted and capable of holding more storage drives. Since I still don’t have a network storage solution yet, I have to rely on a minimal amount of on-system storage. The other benefit is that both have much smaller power requirements. The 5019 only has a 200W power supply. Compared to the dual 750 watt power supplies the Dell has, this will result in a significant decrease for us. I would really prefer a second CPU, but as soon as those options appear, so do the dual power supplies.

As a result of this consolidation, I’m also looking to turn my Ubuntu NFS server into a small K8s node as well to run a couple containers (MS SQL, etc.). I remembered NSX-T has a CNI plugin for external Kubernetes installations that I will be trying out. Unfortunately, I can’t use the VMware Tanzu because the cluster capable of running it won’t be able to run on the smaller systems. I’ll share that experience here as well, so keep an eye out.

So what are your thoughts? I know I should have realized this would be a problem, but I had hoped it would be more manageable. I’m not looking to get rid of the Dell. I will just be bringing it up on an as needed basis. Perhaps if we move somewhere that has better power and cooling options, I’ll be able to run everything again. Until then…

Let me know what you think of my plans.

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