FYI This is my old lab setup. This setup contains 1 SuperMicro server. You should be able to run 3 nested ESXi vms, vCenter, vSAN, WCP (Tanzu Kubernetes for vSphere), and a few other VMs. However, I needed the ability to run NSX-T and a few other larger VMs, thus the need for more HW.
I built out this setup with a vmware home lab in mind. I wanted to run esxi 7 on my baremetal server, then nest everything from there. I need it to be beefy enough to handle multiple nested environments, NSXT, Avi (NSX Advanced Load Balancer), Tanzu kubernetes Grid (tkg), and any other small things that I want to run. Also, I did not want to have anything that was too loud, or used too much electricity, or had a requirement to be rack mounted. Honestly, I think dollar for dollar, you can get more out of your system if you pick a traditional rack mounted server… but it will be noisier and use more electricity and require a rack, obviously 🙂
My setup is simple, everything fits into a mini tower, which takes up about 6u worth of space. You can actually get 2 of them in a rack for about 6u total.. I purchased and setup the SuperMicro initially without the rack enclosure. And if you’re following these guides to setup your own environment, you definitely don’t need to do the rack setup. I just found that in the end, it looked a little neater, since most of the wires can be hidden in the back of the box.
Interested in building your home lab?
Check out these tutorials on how to install/setup each of the components.
- Home Lab Component List – List of parts to buy for this home lab setup.
- Network Diagram – This should give you a pretty good idea of the nested setup
Step by Step Guide to build your home lab
- Installing ESXi7.0U2a on SuperMicro – Installing the initial ESXI OS onto your newly built SuperMicro server.
- Configuring the BareMetal ESXi7 – Network settings, storage, etc..
- Deploy the pfsense Router vm – You’re going to need a router to route between your home network and our nested networks
- Configuring nested ESXi VMs – For Vcenter, vSAN, NSXT, Avi, TKG, etc..
- Deploying vCenter and vSAN on nested ESXi – Deploy the vCenter appliance and configure vSAN
- OPTIONAL: Overclocking the Supermicro
- OPTIONAL: Set Power Management Policy on the ESXi
I am not an expert at building computers. I don’t know the latest intel and amd chips and their differences, nor do I know a ton about building computers. (I’ve built 2 in my life, 1 of which was this server) So.. Having said that, after weeks of reading guides and docs on other home lab builds, I put together my setup.