Okay, okay, so I may be a bit biased cause I work for Nutanix, right? Wrong. All that know me know I call it how I see it. If you have read any of my Home Lab posts, you’ll see i’ve had many iterations over the years..and I mean many. Anywhere from Macbooks running Fusion, single PC’s running Workstation, All-in-ones running ESXi, Hyper-V, enterprise-grade servers and all types of storage. While hardware is an important choice, especially due to WAF (for me at least, not speaking for all), and ease of MGMT, Power and Cooling..etc, once again, it boils down to the software. Sounds familiar, right?
Sorry hardware junkies, this is a software world and we all have to live in it (and I’m a hardware junkie myself). Hardware is simply a means to an end and that end, of course, is running applications or platforms that build applications. It’s funny most of the posts I read across the Web, on sites such as servethehome.com (one of my favorite sites), people are not just using their home servers for “testing stuff,” they’re using it to actually run production workloads in parallel. I know what you’re thinking, “yeah, but Mike, it’s home workloads so no biggie, right?” Not really. A good portion of you, including myself, are using your home servers for storage, file servers storing your most precious data (photos, home videos, etc) streaming software like Plex, transcoding, and in the age of social, all things editing, Photos, Videos. Some of you are actually developing and building applications that could be the next big iPhone App or killer utility that is sorely needed. You may be running containers and building portable apps and quite possibly some of you could be the next Zuckerberg building the next big social platform or next “big” thing that’s gonna change the world. A lot of us are running their NVR software and recording storage on our home servers. If those use cases are not considered important, then quite frankly, I don’t know what is. If that’s the case (which is what I believe) then shouldn’t your home platform be agile, robust, simple, reliable, etc? Shouldn’t it have a lot of the attributes of a Production environment running in a DC? Shouldn’t it be a PLATFORM as well to allow you to run just about any type of workload, be simple to setup, deploy, manage?
Now, if your like me, you’re coming to the realization that life commitments don’t let us tinker as much. When I was single, getting my geek on was an afterthought because I could do it when I wanted as much as I wanted (within $ reason of course). My first foray into real “server” “lab” platforms was my trusty Abit BP6 w/Dual Celerons running at 533MHz. It seems like yesterday that was all the rage.
I know some of you all remember those days some of you earlier and some of you spoiled millennials running your Intel Core platforms day one in your “safe spaces.” Anyway, I was learning Microsoft Server at the time so Windows NT Service Pack 4 was the way to go back then. It was fun but really the focus was how much could I overclock this bad boy and it was really hardware focused and quite frankly I wasn’t running anything that couldn’t be torn down and rebuilt.
Now it’s more common to want some of the benefits at home that you would see in the datacenter however in today’s most common platform (VMware ESXi) those benefits come at a price whether that’s using VMUG Advantage which is a subscription or you’re a vExpert in which licenses are good for a year and then you have to reapply. Some Home Labers are running free ESXi then running multiple nested instances of ESXi for the 60 day trial. This turns into a MGMT nightmare where you’re spinning up and tearing down regularly. Also, you are still running extra instances to get some of the additional functionality like Operations or Replication, logging, etc requiring additional hardware resources. This can get expensive very very quickly. Hyper-V is another option but a lot of the same applies especially around the MGMT stack.
Let’s take a look at Nutanix Community Edition. Nutanix delivers a prepackaged version of our software that can work on a ton of hardware platforms, mac mini’s, Intel Nucs, laptops, all the way to enterprise grade hardware. We provide a solution that removes disk controller limitations under the covers, so we leverage KVM’s Device Emulation instead of PCI passthrough. This has the benefit of compatibility working with a ton of hardware, AHCI to RAID Controllers and HBAs (though recommend to created Single Disk RAID0 presented as individual volumes w/RAID0). What’s key about Nutanix Community Edition is we really don’t limit any functionality unless noted. For example, in the latest release you can leverage 99% of the feature set. A small exception is that you can’t use Prism Central right now, but that’s coming soon. You can deploy Nutanix Community Edition in Single Node (no redundancy), three and four node configurations.
This is only Part 1 of this series of posts on why I believe Nutanix Community Edition is the ultimate Home Lab platform. In the next series of posts we will address hardware choices, installation, and start getting into building VM’s through the advanced functionality and get into the fun stuff like ABS, AFS, Containers w/Persistent Storage. This is by no means a primer on our Acropolis Hypervisor but I will show you the many use cases and things we can do with the Platform. BTW, did I mention it’s free?
For more information on Nutanix Community Edition, please go here to check it out. If you don’t have hardware, you can take CE for a spin by going here which will stand up a virtual instance you can play with.
In the meantime, you can get familiar with Nutanix by checking the video below.
Stay tuned for more content coming your way!