Virtualization, Cloud, Infrastructure and all that stuff in-between

My ramblings on the stuff that holds it all together

What I use

Thought it may be useful to add a post showing what I use daily.

Office, work from home place – Fancy office shed at the end of my garden, fully insulated & double glazed 5m x 5m with concrete base (important – lots of foxes where I live) – I built my Global ShedQuarters about 10yrs ago (well, paid someone to build it) and it’s really paid off for my own domestic sanity having a separate work/live space.)

I share it with my wife and whilst the schools were shut during COVID we also had 2 kids in the office – so we all have our own desks if required

The office is cabled to the house using some armoured cable for power and ethernet (4 x 1GbE – trunked to 3GbE.. well, because I could rather than any actual need.. and 1GbE as direct patch to HP c7000 chassis OA in the garage – blades mainly off unless serious lab work – but use a pair of Cisco 3020 blade switches to do L3 routing for the house.

2 x IKEA FLOALT light panels with remotes, hooked into Alexa – great especially during winter as daylight at the end of the garden is scarce

Herman Miller Aeron Size B chair with (extortionately priced) headrest from Amazon – brilliant chair, I got it 2nd hand about 15yrs ago and it still works perfectly – upgraded recently with rollerblade type wheels (still not sure about those – bit too easy to go flying across the office).

Desk – Ikea BEKANT sit/stand motorised desk – got used to having a sit/stand desk at work and it was a great COVID purchase – ensuring I get some motion during the day

Whiteboard(s) – I have 4 – you can never have too many – generic AmazonBasics brand ones, magnetic – lots of magnets (do not let your children “accidentally” eat them…! 1 x scary A&E experience

Thinking chair – IKEA POANG with leather cushion – brilliant for not staring at a screen.
Book shelves, office furniture – IKEA (see a pattern here?) mostly 2nd hand from eBay or Facebook marketplace for pennies.

Lego

Bit of a Lego nerd and display space has overspilled from the house to the office – including an emergency drawer full of random Lego, you know… for those long conference calls

Internet service

I’m luckily in that I can get Virgin Media cable and it’s periodically upgraded – I’ve currently got a 200mbps service with 10mb upstream – the download is way more than I really need, but it’s always “sign for another 12 months and we’ll upgrade your speed”, I’ve had it for 8 or 9 years and it’s been really stable… apart from that time their installers cut through my cable in the cab to connect a new customer… and then it was out for 3 weeks and took a lot of shouting to get it back.

I use their “Super”hub in modem mode and use my own WiFi (UniFi) and UniFi USG 3P as the firewall and it’s pretty solid.

I have a TP-Link 4G router with an Ethernet connection as backup with a PAYG SIM if there is big outage, although – word of warning if you have kids with a Playstation your PAYG data allowance won’t last long as I discovered during the great cable cut incident of 2018

Tech

42U Rack with glass doors – got years ago for free from local paper (that shows how long ago it was!)

Office networking is all Cisco – 24 port PoE – pretty quiet

HP ML110 G7 running vSphere for all my normal VMs – small and quiet

IOMega PX-7 NAS – NFS storage for VMs

Unifi UAP-AC-Lite rest of house (non-work side) is using UniFi / USG equipment – can’t fault it

2 old monitors on the wall running from an old HP thin client which just about runs Windows 10 – CCTV monitor and streaming news – currently switch between Sky & BBC News channels using their VOD services

Primary display – Apple Thunderbolt 27″ screen – pretty old but still holds its own – USB-C adapter to laptop – and provides USB for my desk and wired Ethernet (please, if you spend all day on Teams, Skype etc. _WIRE_ a connection – don’t rely on wireless

Secondary display Lenovo 27″ over DisplayPort->USB-C to laptop

My layout is usually

Primary display: work VDI

Secondary display: general web browsing, gping running in a terminal to keep an eye on network latency during calls, CPU history/load

Mac display: personal email – Office365 running in a web browser

Both monitors on arms clamped to desk (especially important with a sit/stand desk as you don’t want to knock one off!

Laptop – recently upgraded an old MBP to a new M1 MacBook Pro 14″ with M1 Pro chipset, 8Gb RAM, 1TB SSD – can’t fault it – still really like the Apple virtual desktop / swipe setup which makes it easy to switch between my day job VDI and other remote sessions and browsers using a swipe

Apple Magic Mouse – it’s expensive but worth it for the swipe feature + virtual desktops

Cheap-ish Mac bluetooth keyboard – starting to annoy me, but it does pair with 3 devices which is handy

Day job involves using a VDI – once

Primary Browser – Chrome – despite the fact it eats a lot of resource I continue to use it, maybe more out of habit than desire

Edge for some personal Office365/Azure dev/test tenants I have (mainly seperate browser running InPrivate so I can keep ID separate from my main logged on OS

Linux terminal – OhMyZSH – brilliant

Files an storage paid-for Dropbox, but thinking about moving it to OneDrive in my Office365 tenant as the price is increasing pretty sharply and features are pretty much at parity for most of what I use, I keep everything in dropbox with smart sync (probably didn’t need a laptop with such a big drive in hindsight)

Microsoft RDP client for access to several Windows machines I use in my lab

Webcam Logitech C920 – seems to work well, if my MacBookPro were positioned better on my desk I’d use its webcam instead.

Plantronics W720 dual can DECT headset over USB – a bit long in the tooth but works faultlessly – friends don’t let friends use bluetooth headsets, DECT everytime – works a fair way up the garden if I need to stretch my legs on a call

Jabra Speak 710 wired with USB – really good for hands-free usage when my wife isn’t in the office

Backup Lenovo Thinkpas W530 – beast of a laptop with 32Gb RAM and actual real ethernet and VGA ports running (just) Windows 10/11 Insider builds – not used that much but handy to have a round

Cloud Services

Office365 primary email and collab
Azure – several tenants for personal use – script to kill off and delete resources in my ‘experiments’ resource group to avoid me forgetting about them and ramping up a large bill

Home Lab

I still have and use my lab at home – for day to day running my ML110 G7 runs most of the management pod, vCenter and general house VMs. I have an HP7000 in the garage with some chunkly 128GB blades running vSphere and Hyper-V (sometimes virtualised StackHCI) that get spun up when the need arises, blades are usually off as they suck quite a lot of power.

c7000 chassis with 2 Onboard Administrators and 2 Cisco 3020 switches averages just under 300W and does all my core routing – the OAs are waaaay out of support now so sometimes its a bit of a struggle to find a VM/laptop with Internet Exploder and an old version of ActiveX to be able to run the remote iLo console reliably so I have a VM on stand-by on the ML110 to do-so.

Gmail calendar – shared family stuff

Sound

I like my music, and sometimes I like it err, loud – which is handy as my office isn’t really near anyone else so I can usually be as antisocial as I like.

most music comes from Spotify via an Alexa Echo plugged in via an Aux cable (yes, I know.. the horror! – just need something convenient with an optical) nothing too fancy in HiFi terms (sold all my really good stuff long ago but all good 2nd hand bargains)

NAD 310 Amplifier

Marantz DV4100 DVD player for those spinny silver things that we all used to use

Wall mounted Mission LX-2 speakers. I used to have some really loud floorstanding speakers but they took up too much space and didn’t really fit the room when it got busy during COVID, these aren’t bad speakers at-all – sometimes depends on how well mixed the source is.

Hope you found it useful/interesting…

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