Home Lab – Part 1: Goals and design

As with any project, it’s always a good idea to set out the purpose and objectives.


To provide an environment I can use to explore Skype for Business and the supporting technologies(SBCs, IP Phones, SQL, Exchange,  etc). Also as an environment I can use to test specific scenarios and replicate customer environments and issues.


  • Build a two host VMware environment with vCentre for management.
  • Build a multi-VLAN network based on Cisco switches and routers.
  • Build a LackRack
  • Build Windows environment (ADDS, DNS, DHCP, PKI, SQL, Exchange etc.).
  • Install and configure SfB.
  • Install and configure PfSense Firewall, Kemp HLB, AudioCodes SBC and AudioCodes MP114 (analogue gateway).


Rack, power and cabling

After some searching I came across LackRack. Looks like an interesting (and cheap) solution. I’ll be using the Lack Coffee table for the extra length.


My “secure data centre location” aka the garage already has power, so that’s nice and easy.

Cabling – I need to get a physical network cable run between the study (1st floor) and garage (directly below). Erm.. drill a hole in the ceiling? I’ll consult with a sparky about this to avoid property damage…


Pretty basic network, using a pair Cisco C3750 and a 1841 Router. Currently planning to include 4 virtual networks:

  • Server VLAN – Virtual servers and appliances.
  • Client VLAN – Physical clients and IP phones.
  • Internal DMZ VLAN- SfB Edge int interfaces and reverse proxy.
  • External DMZ VLAN – SfB Edge ext interfaces, “outside” clients and reverse proxy.

I also plan to add a firewall (probably a PfSense) once the VMware environment is up and running.Lab-Diagrams-Network-v1

This should allow me to test most scenarios and also gives me an excuse to finally learn Cisco networking.


The VMware layer will be based on two Dell R710 (2x X5650 2.66GHz 96GB) from eBay. They should be ESXi ready. So hopefully the install will be straight forward. Once the hosts are built, I plan to install vCenter as the first virtual machine.

The VM data store will be hosted on my existing Synlogy DS1515+. Planning to try out iSCSI as the access protocol.

All the other bits

Once I have the network and VMware environments installed and working, I’ll do a seperate post detailing the design of ADDS, DNS, DHCP, Exchange, SfB and all the other things I want to test.

So there we go, part 1 of my plan for my home lab!

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