Home Lab

I primarily work deploying network infrastructure systems using vendors such as Aruba (Wireless, Remote Access and Access Management), Cisco (Routing/Switching and Security), Check Point (Firewall, VPN, Identity Awareness etc) as well as core Microsoft infrastructure systems (AD, DHCP, DNS, Certificate Authority etc). I use my home lab for certification studying; with my current focus the CCNP R&S as well as testing new solutions and ideas. Outside of studying for certifications I plan on testing ideas for DMVPN Dual Hub configuration, FlexVPN, Cisco AnyConnect, Cisco ISE, Aruba ClearPass (Guest, OnBoard etc).

Current Setup

Until recently my virtualised home lab was running on my PC running multiple OS within VMware Workstation, when running multiple systems at once this caused the VMs to ground to a halt. I also have physical hardware that consists of:

  • 3 x Cisco 1811 routers (c181x-advipservicesk9-mz.124-24.T1)
  • 3 x Cisco 3560-8 POE switch (c3560-ipservicesk9-mz.122-53.SE)
  • 1 x Cisco 3750-24 switch (c3750-ipservicesk9-mz.122-55.SE4.bin)

Most of the systems can be run from software, with the exception of LAN switching and WLAN controller. With the Cisco CSR 1000v virtual router I should be able to complete most if not all studying for the CCNP ROUTE 2.0 exam (I have already passed SWITCH 1.0). I plan on de-commissioning all but the Cisco 3750 switch and using all virtual systems.

New Hardware

I decided a separate dedicated physical server with plenty of memory, CPU and upgrade capacity for any future requirements. I’ve always used HP server hardware at work so was familiar and comfortable with HP kit, I decided to purchase an HP Proliant ML310e Gen8 v2 (724160-035).

  • (1) Intel Xeon E3-1220v3 @ 3.10Ghz processor with 4 core.
  • (1) 4GB DDR3 1600 MHz RAM as standard. I purchased additional memory from Kingston KTH-Pl316E/8G (8 GB memory Module). The server has 4 DIMM slots and could take 32 GB RAM in total.


  • (1) 1TB Western Digital SATA HDD (non-hot plug), in addition to the standard HDD I purchased (1) x 240 GB Kingston V300 SSD
  • 1Gb 332i Ethernet Adapter (2 ports per controller)
  • (1) iLO Management Interface

Total Cost

HP Proliant ML310 Gen8 v2 – £470

240 GB Kingston V300 SSD     – £65

Patriot 16GB Signature microSD Class 10 – £5

Kingston 8GB DDR3 1600 MHz ECC Memory Module – £80

TOTAL £620

NOTE – I will be purchasing an additional 8GB RAM to bring up to a total of 20GB, so the end cost will be near £700.

Virtual Machines

Like most home server labs I will be running VMware ESX with multiple guest operating systems. A microSD slot inside the case is provided so I purchased a 16GB microSD card and installed VMware ESXi 5.5.0 update 2 (VMware-ESXi-5.5.0-Update2-2068190-HP-5.77.3-Nov2014.ISO). I plan on running the systems used most frequently from the faster SSD such as Domain services (AD, DHCP, DNS and CA) as well as the primary CSR1000v Router. The remaining systems and ISO installation files will be stored on the slower 1TB HDD.

I have or will be running the following:

  • Windows 2008 R2 – Domain Controller, DHCP, DNS, Certificate Authority
  • Windows XP and/or 7/8 – Client workstation
  • Aruba ClearPass 6.x – TACACS, RADIUS (802.1x), OnBoard, Guest
  • Cisco CSR 1000v – CCNP Route exam study (OSPF, EIGRP, BGP, DMVPN) and FlexVPN
  • Check Point Firewall – All software blades


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