Interested in Working with the NTG Lab?



  • So we have been kicking around an idea to help turn the NTG Lab up to the next level and we wanted to see if there would be any interesting from the community. The NTG Lab is pretty extensive, and always growing. We get good access to hardware and software from lots of vendors anxious to have us showcase their products to our staff and since we have an isolated lab the availability of licenses to us is generally pretty good (it's kept out of production so vendors know they aren't losing money from a lack of sales.) We have gear such as several enterprise servers from multiple vendors, iSCSI SAN, NAS, hypervisors, etc.

    What we are looking to do is move from the small, limited lab facility that we have currently to move into something much more substantial and robust - a full cabinet in an enterprise datacenter.

    We are interested in finding out if some community members might be interested in going in for something like $25/mo to get access to the lab. It's not a cloud platform and the system would be a bit information, we aren't looking at hundreds of people here but it would be great to find around twenty. This would be people who know each other, not a system "for sale" and the goal is education, testing and lab - no implication of this being a production system (we have a SAN for goodness sake, this isn't prod!!)

    The idea is that this would be a truly incredible system that we can use together for a degree of learning and experimenting that just can't be done in another way. Basically the most amazing home lab you could imagine - hosted in an enterprise datacenter. For the cost of just a few tiny cloud VMs from a cloud provider.

    Thoughts?



  • Good Job for a group of people who interested to learn



  • Some of the gear today:

    Four Dell PowerEdge Servers sponsored by xByte
    Full Scale stack sponsored by Scale (brand new, on its way)
    Netgear ReadyNAS (sponsored by Netgear)
    IOSafe Synology NAS (sponsored by IOSafe)
    Drobo B800i SAN (sponsored by Drobo)
    Two HP Proliant Servers

    Initial stack will be a XenServer cluster and a Scale/KVM cluster. HyperV is planned to be added soon. The plan is to implement a massive SAM-SD storage system as well, likely built on CEPH.

    I am very hopeful that we can acquire a CoolThreads-based large UltraSparc / Solaris platform as well in the near-ish future.



  • I think that would be cool. We could all put our heads together and come up with some neat projects, I'm sure...



  • Yes, and people would be free to do their own as well. But it would be awesome if we had some shared components for people to use as well. Like a shared DNS, authentication, jump servers, NFS general storage, log collection, monitoring, etc. Could do some really cool stuff.

    Hopefully we'd be able to build out local CentOS repos, as an example, so someone building a new VM could do so with that as the repo location instead of going out to the Internet. So builds would be FAST.



  • We could have central ISO repos too, easy access to tools that people tend to use.



  • Is this physical access or remote or both?



  • And what localities are we discussing if this includes physical access?



  • SSH



  • @DustinB3403 said:

    Is this physical access or remote or both?

    Not physical access, enterprise data center - so like "real" IT work. This actually makes the lab better in many ways, especially for people used to working in the SMB where they blend bench work and IT work together. This will be more like enterprise IT - all the bench work is handled by bench staff at the datacenter.



  • I think I be interested.
    The ability to have our iso would be awesome for rolling freepbx or elastic, etc.



  • Yes, things like testing appliances would be very easy. Very different than a traditional cloud system like Amazon or Rackspace.



  • I would be into this. Having access to a more robust lab environment would be incredible.



  • I think I would be into it...



  • That's a great idea. I won't be taking part in it but I think it's a tops idea.



  • We were kicking around ideas today on a lab team call discussing maybe using the hosted free Spiceworks product to do a lab ticketing system and letting people take on lab roles rather like admins for different tasks, like have a SAN Admin responsible for carving out LUNs. So someone using the lab could request a LUN via a ticket and it would all get documented and done kind of like an enterprise environment. This would make it easier to manage the lab and, more importantly, make the lab experience far more valuable by providing something closer to actual experience rather than just playing around with equipment.



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  • Looks like a good response! Several people really interested.



  • I especially like the idea of running it like its own little enterprise... as long as we have more than one person doing each "admin" role... IE: @scottalanmiller and @coliver doing storage, and me and @AVI-NetworkGuy handling Hyper-V, etc...

    It would be horrible to put in a ticket for whatever and have to wait for 3 or 4 days before we actually get it, lol... By them we have forgotten what we needed it for, lol.



  • The 25$/month thing is going to be the sticking point for me... got some good new the other day that is going to tie my money up for a longish time. Not sure I can afford the 25$/month at this point.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    We were kicking around ideas today on a lab team call discussing maybe using the hosted free Spiceworks product to do a lab ticketing system and letting people take on lab roles rather like admins for different tasks, like have a SAN Admin responsible for carving out LUNs. So someone using the lab could request a LUN via a ticket and it would all get documented and done kind of like an enterprise environment. This would make it easier to manage the lab and, more importantly, make the lab experience far more valuable by providing something closer to actual experience rather than just playing around with equipment.

    I love this idea.



  • @coliver said:

    The 25$/month thing is going to be the sticking point for me... got some good new the other day that is going to tie my money up for a longish time. Not sure I can afford the 25$/month at this point.

    Unfortunately there is a rather heavy bit of cost to cover. Going to be rather than expensive endeavor with a full cabinet being used in a datacenter. Will provide for some amazing capabilities and growth, but it's a non-trivial expense to run it all.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    @coliver said:

    The 25$/month thing is going to be the sticking point for me... got some good new the other day that is going to tie my money up for a longish time. Not sure I can afford the 25$/month at this point.

    Unfortunately there is a rather heavy bit of cost to cover. Going to be rather than expensive endeavor with a full cabinet being used in a datacenter. Will provide for some amazing capabilities and growth, but it's a non-trivial expense to run it all.

    Understood. I would have to look at the expense when this gets going to see if it is doable for me.



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  • Maybe even pair people up in roles they've never held before... like putting me with somebody who has lots of XenServer experience... and then pairing me up with somebody who does not have a lot of Hyper-V experience...



  • @anonymous said:

    @scottalanmiller What the monthly cost? How you consider other options? Storing it at someones workspace?

    Sure, but the cost of running the gear in an office is higher in terms of electricity and connectivity. So that doesn't work. Powering and cooling a lab of this scale isn't trivial in any way. And not having good filtered air and HVAC and UPS and all that means that the equipment is far more expensive to operate.



  • @anonymous said:

    @scottalanmiller What the monthly cost? How you consider other options? Storing it at someones workspace?

    No matter where it resides physically there will costs for power, cooling, network, bandwidth, etc.

    I know that I do not run my lab at home so that I do not have to bear those costs. My gear is in a collocation rack in St. Louis currently, but the availability of that space could be lost at any time and then I will have to work up a new solution.


  • Banned

    Commercially, I'd love to use this for production "demos" to clients.

    Show them "This is your network on a SAN" watch me break it

    Then show them "This is your well designed proper network, watch me break it and recover from it quickly.



  • @JaredBusch said:

    @anonymous said:

    @scottalanmiller What the monthly cost? How you consider other options? Storing it at someones workspace?

    No matter where it resides physically there will costs for power, cooling, network, bandwidth, etc.

    But not costs to us. Hosting it in an office we have to pay for those things and from what we've seen in NY, they cost more alone than the full cots of hosting in a DC where all of those costs are predictable and included.



  • I am assuming that the monthly charge would be to help off-set the costs or completely cover them?