What sort of lab would you build for $2000?

Written by Sam McGeown
Published on 20/9/2013 - Read in about 2 min (416 words)

John Troyer (@jtroyer) asked a question on Twitter last night about a CloudCred prize of $1000-2000:


That got me thinking – was it possible to create an entire 2 host lab with storage on a $2000 budget? My first step was to convert it into a proper currency:


I figured that I’d stick to the Intel NUC route that I’ve gone down for my lab at home – I love the NUC for its tiny form factor, silent operation and really low power consumption. There are down sides – it can only take 16GB RAM, only one mSATA disk and only has one gigabit NIC. I don’t think any of those are too big a deal for a personal lab though – certainly I’ve not had any problems building and testing VMware products on my single NUC. I’d drop in an 8GB stick of RAM and an Intel 60GB mSATA SSD per NUC – you could always go 16GB later by adding another 8GB stick in the 2nd slot. I picked the Intel mSATA disk for it’s controller and throughput figures – there are larger and cheaper ones but not with the same write performance. Since the use of SSD is massively in focus with vFlash, PernixData FVP and several other technologies, you wouldn’t want to miss out. I’ve also added an 8GB USB3 flash drive per NUC to boot ESXi from.

Storage wise I’ve gone for the well respected Synology DS213J 2 disk NAS with two WD Red 2TB SATA disks – full VAAI support is an absolute killer feature! As it’s a lab, you can get away with a non-resilient RAID level and get 4TB of usable storage (though I’d still go for a mirror and 2TB).

Finally, to link it all together there’s the TP-Link 8 port switch – gigabit, L2, managed and with a decent feature set – not much more to say there!

So, how does that stack up to a $2000 budget? Without shopping around it all comes in at £1,194.95 (or $1919.45) – you’d probably need the change for network and power cables.


So – that’s my back-of-a-napkin chuck it together $2000 lab! What would you do? Let me know in the comments – I really am interested!

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