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What is Virtualization?

Level 10

We’ve all been there. It’s time to consider building a home lab, whether it’s for testing a scenario, preparing for a certification, or learning more about a software application. There are two home lab options to consider.

A physical home lab includes a rack server, servers, networking equipment, monitor, keyboard, KVM, and so on. Additionally, the rack server requires a space tall and wide enough to house it, as well as sufficient power to run it.

A software-defined home lab (virtualized) eliminates most of the items needed in a physical lab environment. There’s no need for a rack server, servers, or space, and the power consumption is significantly less. A software-defined home lab can run off a single NUC, a desktop, or laptop computer. The hardware requirements (RAM, storage, processor) can vary depending on your home lab.

This is where we’ll dig deeper into the question asked in the title of this post: what is virtualization?

Virtualization provides an alternative to a physical environment because it allows the end user to create a software-based (virtualized) model of a server with additional servers, applications, and networks in a software-defined manner. Additionally, time savings are an important factor. VM templates are lifesavers because if you’re not satisfied with the virtual environment you’ve created, you can delete it and start over using the template and you’ll be up and running in half the time it would take to rebuild a physical server in the same manner.

There are five commonly known use cases to virtualize:

Server – allows multiple operating systems to run on one physical server

Storage – provides the ability to combine multiple physical storage options into a single logical storage environment

Network – provides the ability to create multiple software-defined networks (SDN) in a virtualized manner

Desktop – like server, but allows the end user to create and deploy multiple virtualized desktops onto a single desktop computer accessible from any device

Application – a prime use case scenario when you need to host an application for testing

The options to create a virtualized environment have also expanded to include public cloud services but some factors to consider are based on need. For short-term projects with a limited budget requiring a VM stood up in seconds, a public cloud service is ideal. This provides flexibility without the overhead, but keep in mind these services can be easily adopted because of the simplicity, and there’s a tendency to neglect the costs associated with them over time. If a public cloud service is a long-term solution, it’s even more important for you to keep track of costs for the same reasons listed above, perhaps with email alerts to keep track of each option selected with corresponding cost.

30 Comments
MVP
MVP

Is cloud the answer then?

Level 13

Thanks for the article

Level 14

Thanks for the article!

Level 13

Thanks.  i definitely agree on the use of a virtual environment for certifications and learning in general.  It allows you to actually get hands on with a lot of the tasks.  The other thing that is really essential is some scenarios.  Simply working in a vacuum without a plan won't get you very far.  We use scenario based training in flight sims all the time to improve the quality of the experience and provide for varied learning opportunities so you don't get stagnant and are introduced to things you might not encounter during the normal course of events.

MVP
MVP

One item for the physical lab that was missed and depending on the size of your lab can be quite noticeable is the requirement for additional cooling and another bump on the additional power requirements. It can easily raise the temperature of a room or basement by 10-15 degrees and most home environmental systems are not designed to deal a room that is that much warmer than the rest of the house.

Level 12

I like the idea of virtualized home lab, but there is still the cost of the hardware to support it. It seems like cloud is the way to go for your lab needs. However, just like companies, everyone has their own needs and what works for them.

MVP
MVP

Thanks for the article!

Virtually.

Level 16

My previous employer was pretty good about allowing the IT staff to have old equipment once it was retired.

One of my co-workers took home a rack, servers, storage and some switches/routers for their home lab. Problem was they left it running 24/7. Until they got their next power bill.

Level 12

I think I would enjoy working for your previous employer, at least for a little while.

Level 12

Four of the five make perfect sense to me, but doesn't Citrix or MSTS qualify as a virtual desktop? Since each user only gets one customizable desktop per account it doesn't seem to fit your description, but I've always thought of it as a virtual desktop since it isn't running on a physical system and is accessible from anywhere you can access the MSTS server.

MVP
MVP

Level 10

I think it's a combination but it mostly depends on the needs, use cases and cost. Thanks for taking the time to read the post including your feedback!

Level 10

Thanks for taking the time to read the post including your feedback!

Level 10

Thanks for taking the time to read the post including your feedback!

Level 10

Thanks for taking the time to read the post including your feedback!

Level 10

Up until last summer, I had a physical rack with multiple servers, switches, etc. in my basement and I discovered it wasn't used properly so I decided to sell the equipment. Moving forward, HOLs and a virtual home lab are more than enough and they are portable (runs off my laptop) and very cost effective.

Thanks for taking the time to read the post including your feedback!

Level 10

Up until last summer, I had a physical rack with multiple servers, switches, etc. in my basement and I discovered it wasn't used properly so I decided to sell the equipment. Moving forward, HOLs and a virtual home lab are more than enough and they are portable (runs off my laptop) and very cost effective.

Thanks for taking the time to read the post including your feedback!

Level 10

Thanks for taking the time to read the post including your feedback!

Level 10

Up until last summer, I had a physical rack with multiple servers, switches, etc. in my basement and I discovered it wasn't used properly so I decided to sell the equipment. Moving forward, HOLs and a virtual home lab are more than enough and they are portable (runs off my laptop) and very cost effective.

Thanks for taking the time to read the post including your feedback!

Level 10

Thanks for taking the time to read the post including your feedback!

Level 13

And in some cases, licensing.  If your home lab experiments involve something like Windows, desktop or server, there is a cost there.  The primary reason I have not brought up a virtual GS3/SolarWinds environment at home to learn SWQL/API/SDK on is the Microsoft Windows licensing required to install it on. My workplace isn't supplying me with the license either.  Management has said they would support building out (actually rebuilding) a lab environment, but the direction is to build in the corporate virtual environment and I am finding many restrictions and interference to navigate there.

MVP
MVP

Good information !  I have taken our environment further than I could imagine ... not in my wildest dreams did I think we would have all the servers and all the desktops virtualized.  We are in a very focused environment that had done quite well, and benefited from the transition.  I do see 911 operating in the cloud in the near future .. we need to catch up with the Netherlands!!

Thanks for the post.  Looking forward to future articles.

Level 10

Thanks for taking the time to read the post including your feedback! More to come over the next few weeks.

Level 20

To me it's just an abstraction layer on top of another architecture.

Level 14

I've just got a floor standing Dell PowerEdge which I got for free a long time ago.  VMWare on it and whatever I need built inside.  Spin it up when I want to do something otherwise it is off as it is quite noisy and costly to run.  Mine has disks in it.  Yep, that is a floppy drive  

Image result for dell poweredge 4200

Level 10

Yikes!

Thanks for taking the time to read the post including your feedback!

Level 15

Inteligent solutions for big or small buiness IT.

When investiment did with people comprometed the services make the back money.

Level 16

I would make a stealth kegerator out of it.

Level 11

Thanks for the article.