Last year I wrote about our mobile labs. The first version was build in a 4U rolling rack. Then we build a similar one (V2) and jammed all that goodness in just half that size and in 3U! #OMG right! Now almost a year later there was more need for a third lab because we all like to use them for all sorts of mad idea's!



Version 3

Version 3 is built on almost the same hardware as the previous 2 but now that ram prices are dropping again it's less pricy. We even get 64GB ram now for the price of 32Gb last year!

The vSAN hosts are again 2 Supermicros with the 10GB Ethernet NICs direct connected with DAC Cables. Now we did 64Gb per node and with 2 slots open one could upgrade to 128GB per node or even more when buying 64GB DIMMs.

vSAN Hosts Number
Supermicro Mini-1U D1518 1SFF E300-8D 2
Sandisk Ultra Fit 16GB USB3.0 2 1m Cisco Compatible SFP+ 2
Crucial RDIMM DDR4-2666 32GB DR x4 4
Crucial MX500 500GB SATA6G 2.5″ 7mm 2
Intel SSD 760p 128GB NVMe M.2 80mm 2

The management host will only run:

  • vCenter 6.7 U2 (tiny deployment)
  • vSAN witness host (medium deployment)
  • Windows 2019 Server with AD/DNS/PKI
  • Management / Jump Host
  • SQL Server for some databases

I like it a lot that the new Intel NUC8 i5 has 4 Cores and 8 threads instead of the NUC7 where the i5 only had 2 Cores... Where the NUC7 was powerful enough with 32GB the NUC8 with 64GB on just 2 cores would be a punishment on your VM's if you went with the 64GB.

Management Host Number
Intel NUC Kit NUC8i5BEH 1
Sandisk Ultra Fit 16GB USB3.0 1
G.Skill Ripjaws F4-2400C16D-32GRS 1
Intel SSD 760p 256GB NVMe M.2 80mm 1 USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet 1

From the NUC6 to the latest you can also pump them up to 64GB ram if needed with the Samsung M471A4G43MB1-CTD 32GB DIMMs. These a little bit more expensive but if you start with 1 you can always add a second DIMM later on. We did not go with the 32GB DIMMs due to availability. Our vBuddy on Twitter, William Lam has a great write up on these DIMMs.

Other parts used Number
SKB R3S shallow Roto-moulded rack 3U 1
TP Link TL-SG1024DE 24Port switch 1
1U power brick with 8 outlets 1
Linksys E2500 Advanced Dual-Band N Router 1
Random screws/bolts and sweat 666

New front io panel:

We noticed that with the previous builds that it kinda sucks not having IPMI or ILO functionality on the NUC. Especially when you want to install ESXi on the NUC when it's buried somewhere in a case :) For that, we added a pretty sweet 1U IO panel. This panel has HDMI and 3 USB ports wired from the NUC and an Ethernet port for the WAN uplink to the router.
My colleague Hans Jaspers pointed out to these sweet parts! Doesn't it look just awesome? Now if you want to set up the NUC just pop in the HDMI, keyboard, your USB drive with the ESXi installer and your golden.

Front io panel Number
DAP 19 inch panel 1U for 8 XLR connectors 1
Penn Elcom blank/filler for Neutrik D 3
Neutrik NAUSB3-B USB A-B/B-A Adapter 3
Neutrik NAHDMI-WB HDMI passthrough adapter 1
Neutrik NE8FDP B etherCON Adapter female 1
USB A to USB B cable 50CM 3
HDMI cable 50 CM 1
UTP CAT 5E 50CM ITQ Orange 16

The patch table used:

Used the same patch layout as in the previous builds. Just add your VLAN tags on the vMotion, NSX or Management networks.

Patch Backend VMInfo Role
 1  Wan port router  Uplink from home router
 2  Lan port router  Uplink to switch
 4  NUC NIC 1  vmnic0  Managment
 5  NUC NIC 2 (USB)  vmnic32  vMotion
 6  IPMI E300-8D  IPMI
 7  NIC 0 E300-8D  vmnic0  Managment
 8  NIC 1 E300-8D  vmnic1  Managment
 9  NIC 2 E300-8D  vmnic2  vMotion
 10  NIC 3 E300-8D  vmnic3  vMotion
 11  NIC 4 E300-8D  vmnic4  NSX
 12  NIC 5 E300-8D  vmnic5  NSX
 13  NIC 0 E300-8D  vmnic0  Managment
 14  NIC 1 E300-8D  vmnic1  Managment
 15  NIC 2 E300-8D  vmnic2  vMotion
 16  NIC 3 E300-8D  vmnic3  vMotion
 17  NIC 4 E300-8D  vmnic4  NSX
 18  NIC 5 E300-8D  vmnic5  NSX
 19  IPMI E300-8D  IPMI
 SFP+  NIC 6 E300-8D  vmnic5  vSAN
 SFP+  NIC 7 E300-8D  vmnic6  vSAN

This picture illustrates the backside of the Supermicro E300-8D and the networking port numbering.
The two SFP+ connectors we used for a direct connection between the two E300-8D nodes so no patching or switching required for that.

The results

Unfortunately, we are still waiting on the E300 rack mounts. First, when the order was delivered we got 2 empty E300 chassis instead of those rack mounts. Without we could not finish the build. When these come in we will update the blog and add the final results with pictures! Due to the questions on the parts used, we have put the blog online to share the kit list.

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