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Current lab setup

My current lab environment supports a few goals:

  • Stay sharp with Microsoft active directory and group policy
  • Keep up to date with windows server versions: 2003, 2008, 2012R2, 2016 > beyond
  • Keep up to date with the windows desktop OS family
  • Keep my hardware skills sharp by continuing to build my own desktops and servers
  • Keep up to date with Citrix XenApp/Desktop suite releases: in 2017 alone, I ran 7.11, 7.12, 7.13, and 7.15 LTSR – a lot!
  • Use Powershell for automating routine tasks
  • Enable quick recovery from hardware/software failure through OS virtualization 
  • Prep for certification 
All of the above has been achievable using two full size ATX based towers, and one SFF – a Gigabyte Brix
  1. ATX Tower 1 runs server 2016 and Hyper-V – VMs run SQL , file a backup AD controller
  2. ATX Tower 2 runs ESXi – Citrix StoreFront, Citrix desktop controller, session hosts and MCS
  3. The Gigabyte brix is used for appliance functions – vCenter and active directory primary
DRP is covered by a multi-port UPS and USB 3 10 TB HDD
Each year, (and not always @ x-mas) I have the exact same hardware purchase temptations: 
  • A synology NAS unit for backup
  • An off-lease Dell R series or HP/Cisco equivalent 
However, I always defer to the next year, when I’ve got a newer apartment w. more room 😉

The 3 unit setup covers my needs for 2017 so far, but i’ve become interested in VMWARE VCP-DCV certification recently, in doing so, I would more than likely go to a 4-host setup to enable VSAN. So, purchasing a 4th ATX or MATX based tower will more than likely occur sometime i the next 4-6 months. I’m looking at an Intel Coffee lake based rig, as they traditionally feature better ESXi support.  

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