Regular contributor and vBrownBag crew member, Eric Wright (@discoposse), wrote an interesting article on his blog discoposse.com discussing the number of labs he uses on a regular basis. It has long been understood that having a lab for learning, testing new technologies, and testing automation has become a near requirement for operating a good IT environment. The lifecycle of software (VMware, Microsoft, RedHat, OpenStack) has made it increasingly difficult to maintain personal labs. Eric provides a great list of the different types of labs he uses, several of which are cloud-based and easily accessible.
Still concerned about hardware costs? Nothing wrong with that. Home labs can get expensive. I blogged about my humble little lab last year totaling over $4100 over 2 years. Fortunately, many VMUG groups are giving away homelabs during their user conferences. I personally know that Chicago, Toronto, and Charlotte have done this in the last year. Yet another exciting reason to attend a VMUG users conference. Eric steps up once again with Virtual Design Master season 2 where the winner stands to win some seriously cool lab gear courtesy of Zerto. The equipment is out there, just have to keep an ear to the community and jump.
This is a good time to remind readers of AutoLab, developed by Alastair Cooke (@DemitasseNZ) and others in the vBrownBag crew. AutoLab recently got updated to support vSphere 5.5 and Al has mentioned continuing development over the coming year. This is exciting news for those of you looking to keep up to date on VMware’s foundational software and might only have a reasonably powered laptop or desktop.
Whether you use your lab for learning, testing, or playing around with community automation (my favorite) we’re interested in hearing about YOUR lab story. Please share in the comments below and on Twitter using the #vBrownBag hashtag.
3 thoughts on “Do you even Lab?”
If you are looking to set up a home lab, especially for the purpose of VCP/VCAP exam study, then AutoLab is an excellent option.
I have put together a series of videos on deploying a home lab using AutoLab on VMware Workstation and they can be found here http://www.vhersey.com/tag/autolab/
There are currently 5 videos in the series with more on the way.
My lab is super-humble, and cost roughly $1,000. I leverage Nested Virtualization (as championed by William Lam) on a single computer, and it works perfectly for my needs (basic bring up of VMs such as OpenStack, NetApp Simulators, EMC Isilon simulators, VMware vSphere labs, Windows VMs, etc). I blogged about my Lab here: http://www.twistedethics.com/2013/09/19/virtualization-home-lab-choosing-a-quiet-low-power-computer-with-nested-virtualization-support/, And Chris Wahl also has an excellent home lab resource page here: http://wahlnetwork.com/my-home-lab/resources/
Test labs are phenomenal for self and continuing education, and I can say I would not be able to do half the things that I can do today without my constantly-evolving home lab. I’ve got a write up of it at http://www.davidklee.net/home-lab/. It does not cost that much to get into one, and a little trickle of cash over time can build into a home lab that rivals some small businesses.
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