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  1. #721
    Service Manager 2,500+ Posts
    Need some advice on learning networking

    BillyCarpenter's Avatar
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    Re: Need some advice on learning networking

    I need some advice.

    I'm getting to the stage in the CCNA course that the virtual program that I've been using to configure routers and switches doesn't support all the functions of the real thing. So, I'm about to spend whatever money I have to spend to build my own home lab. I already have some of the stuff I need.

    Here's where I need some advice:

    A while back I ordered a server off ebay but it had problems and I got a refund. I'm about to order another server but don't know which one I need. I'm gonna be running a bunch of virtual machines via VMWARE and I'm gonna use it here at my office as a file server, DNS server and will set up active directory.

    I want a rack server. Preferably made by DELL.

    Can anyone offer any advice?

  2. #722
    Retired 10,000+ Posts slimslob's Avatar
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    Re: Need some advice on learning networking

    Quote Originally Posted by BillyCarpenter View Post
    I need some advice.

    I'm getting to the stage in the CCNA course that the virtual program that I've been using to configure routers and switches doesn't support all the functions of the real thing. So, I'm about to spend whatever money I have to spend to build my own home lab. I already have some of the stuff I need.

    Here's where I need some advice:

    A while back I ordered a server off ebay but it had problems and I got a refund. I'm about to order another server but don't know which one I need. I'm gonna be running a bunch of virtual machines via VMWARE and I'm gonna use it here at my office as a file server, DNS server and will set up active directory.

    I want a rack server. Preferably made by DELL.

    Can anyone offer any advice?
    You might be better off building your own server with all the features you will need. I suggest that it use Linux as the OS. You should then be able to setup a Server 2019 VM and multiple Win10 VM.

  3. #723
    Service Manager 1,000+ Posts rthonpm's Avatar
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    Re: Need some advice on learning networking

    Quote Originally Posted by BillyCarpenter View Post
    I need some advice.

    I'm getting to the stage in the CCNA course that the virtual program that I've been using to configure routers and switches doesn't support all the functions of the real thing. So, I'm about to spend whatever money I have to spend to build my own home lab. I already have some of the stuff I need.

    Here's where I need some advice:

    A while back I ordered a server off ebay but it had problems and I got a refund. I'm about to order another server but don't know which one I need. I'm gonna be running a bunch of virtual machines via VMWARE and I'm gonna use it here at my office as a file server, DNS server and will set up active directory.

    I want a rack server. Preferably made by DELL.

    Can anyone offer any advice?
    Don't get anything older than a x20 series PowerEdge, but you may want to look at a tower server: depending on where you're putting this server, rack boxes have a tendency to be very loud when all of the fans get going. Make sure you've got a RAID card in it, and depending on your drives go RAID 10 for spinning drives or RAID 5 for SSD: RAID 5 and spinning disks area no-go. For spinning disks, get as large as you can afford with a minimum of 4 to support RAID 10 (you'll need Dell branded drives if you're using a Dell branded RAID card).

    Use a Type 1 Hypervisor like ESXI or Hyper-V Server as opposed to installing an operating system and then using VMWare player or VirtualBox or some other type 2 hypervisor, otherwise you've wasted money investing in a server. I'm personally a Hyper-V guy, but either ESXI or Hyper-V will work well as a platform.

    There are more reliable sites than eBay as well, though you will definitely end up paying more, you at least get a warranty and support. XByte is a good source for servers, but you'll pay a lot more than eBay.

    If you're doing AD, your domain controller will also act as your DNS server, but you can install DNS as a separate service on its own server. My personal lab consists of a domain controller, Windows SMB (file) server, IIS (web) server, all of them are Server Core installs, a Linux (CentOS 7) Apache server (bound to Active Directory), and a couple of Linux and Windows workstations, all bound to Active Directory. I tend to wipe the machines and start over quite frequently, as I mainly use it as a demo for customer setups. For Windows systems, you can download evaluation copies of all Windows Server versions which are good for 180 days, and re-loadable for an additional 180 days up to three additional times.

  4. #724
    Service Manager 2,500+ Posts
    Need some advice on learning networking

    BillyCarpenter's Avatar
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    Re: Need some advice on learning networking

    Quote Originally Posted by rthonpm View Post
    Don't get anything older than a x20 series PowerEdge, but you may want to look at a tower server: depending on where you're putting this server, rack boxes have a tendency to be very loud when all of the fans get going. Make sure you've got a RAID card in it, and depending on your drives go RAID 10 for spinning drives or RAID 5 for SSD: RAID 5 and spinning disks area no-go. For spinning disks, get as large as you can afford with a minimum of 4 to support RAID 10 (you'll need Dell branded drives if you're using a Dell branded RAID card).

    Use a Type 1 Hypervisor like ESXI or Hyper-V Server as opposed to installing an operating system and then using VMWare player or VirtualBox or some other type 2 hypervisor, otherwise you've wasted money investing in a server. I'm personally a Hyper-V guy, but either ESXI or Hyper-V will work well as a platform.

    There are more reliable sites than eBay as well, though you will definitely end up paying more, you at least get a warranty and support. XByte is a good source for servers, but you'll pay a lot more than eBay.

    If you're doing AD, your domain controller will also act as your DNS server, but you can install DNS as a separate service on its own server. My personal lab consists of a domain controller, Windows SMB (file) server, IIS (web) server, all of them are Server Core installs, a Linux (CentOS 7) Apache server (bound to Active Directory), and a couple of Linux and Windows workstations, all bound to Active Directory. I tend to wipe the machines and start over quite frequently, as I mainly use it as a demo for customer setups. For Windows systems, you can download evaluation copies of all Windows Server versions which are good for 180 days, and re-loadable for an additional 180 days up to three additional times.

    I went to the xbyte site and did my best to spec out a server but unfortunately I got lost in he plethora of specs.


    I hate to ask you to do this but I don't want to make any mistakes. Would you mind going to their site and choosing the options that I need? And maybe taking a screen shot and sending it to me? I have a budget of about $1500.00.

    If it's too much trouble, I completely understand. I hate to ask you to do this.

  5. #725
    Service Manager 2,500+ Posts
    Need some advice on learning networking

    BillyCarpenter's Avatar
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    Re: Need some advice on learning networking

    I've been reading up on the difference between Type 1 & 2 Hypervisor and this is really cool stuff. From my understanding, the main benefit of Type 1 over 2 is reliability and redundancy. In other words, if one instance of an operating system dies on a physical server, it can migrate to another server in real time. Crazy stuff. I'm still a little fuzzy on some details.

  6. #726
    Service Manager 1,000+ Posts rthonpm's Avatar
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    Re: Need some advice on learning networking

    Quote Originally Posted by BillyCarpenter View Post
    I've been reading up on the difference between Type 1 & 2 Hypervisor and this is really cool stuff. From my understanding, the main benefit of Type 1 over 2 is reliability and redundancy. In other words, if one instance of an operating system dies on a physical server, it can migrate to another server in real time. Crazy stuff. I'm still a little fuzzy on some details.
    You can set up replication or clustering with a Type 1 hypervisor, yes, but the bigger advantage is that your VM's are running closer to the bare metal of the machine. A type 1 hypervisor gives your VM's closer access to the physical hardware of the device since there's no other operating system between the VM and the hardware. A Type 2 hypervisor still needs an operating system to run in since it's a piece of software (think VirtualBox), so you're adding in an additional step and weight since now you need more resources just to run the OS that runs your hypervisor, or some just offer a generic set of hardware that doesn't take advantage of the memory or other features found in your hardware. You'll find servers using a type 1 because you want performance as close to native as possible. There's also the licensing aspect: you can generally run a Type 1 hypervisor with free software: Microsoft offers Hyper-V Server, which is just the hypervisor related portions of Windows for free, ESXI from VMWare is also free. Go with a Type 2 hypervisor, and you'll need to run an operating system and then your VM's on top.

    Fun fact: enabling the Hyper-V role in Windows 10 actually turns your computer into a Type 1 hypervisor as your OS becomes a VM running on Hyper-V.

  7. #727
    Service Manager 2,500+ Posts
    Need some advice on learning networking

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    Re: Need some advice on learning networking

    Quote Originally Posted by rthonpm View Post
    You can set up replication or clustering with a Type 1 hypervisor, yes, but the bigger advantage is that your VM's are running closer to the bare metal of the machine. A type 1 hypervisor gives your VM's closer access to the physical hardware of the device since there's no other operating system between the VM and the hardware. A Type 2 hypervisor still needs an operating system to run in since it's a piece of software (think VirtualBox), so you're adding in an additional step and weight since now you need more resources just to run the OS that runs your hypervisor, or some just offer a generic set of hardware that doesn't take advantage of the memory or other features found in your hardware. You'll find servers using a type 1 because you want performance as close to native as possible. There's also the licensing aspect: you can generally run a Type 1 hypervisor with free software: Microsoft offers Hyper-V Server, which is just the hypervisor related portions of Windows for free, ESXI from VMWare is also free. Go with a Type 2 hypervisor, and you'll need to run an operating system and then your VM's on top.

    Fun fact: enabling the Hyper-V role in Windows 10 actually turns your computer into a Type 1 hypervisor as your OS becomes a VM running on Hyper-V.

    I see. They mentioned something about that in a video that I watched. I didn't quite understand but now that you explain it, I get it.

    I got your PM. You've been so helpful. I really appreciate it. I'll try not to bug you too much but I'm sure I'll have more questions. Thanks again.
    Last edited by BillyCarpenter; 1 Week Ago at 04:06 PM.

  8. #728
    Service Manager 2,500+ Posts
    Need some advice on learning networking

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    Re: Need some advice on learning networking

    I learned how to do something really cool today.

    Remember that I said on a production network that PC's aren't usually plugged directly into a layer 3 switch but are instead plugged into a layer 2 switch that is trunked to a layer 3 switch? The reason that it's trunked is to allow vlans across those inter-connected ports. And those vlans have to be configured on every last switch. That could be 10 or 20 switches. Or more. Depends on the size of the company. That takes a long time and it's very easy to make a mistake when configuring the switches.

    There's an easier way. You can turn that layer 3 switch into a vlan domain server and the layer 2 switches into vlan domain clients. What does this do? Instead of me having to configure all those switches, the layer 3 switch does it for me. Cool stuff.

  9. #729
    Service Manager 2,500+ Posts
    Need some advice on learning networking

    BillyCarpenter's Avatar
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    Re: Need some advice on learning networking

    I've come up with a new game plan for passing my CCNA on the first attempt.

    After looking at what's involved in this course, I have broken it down into 2 key areas:

    1. Practical learning. This consists of actual programming of the switches and routers and making them get the information to the right part of the network.

    2.. Theory based learning. This consists of things like the OSI model, subnetting, broadcast and collision domains, ect.


    Number 2 not only involves learning a lot of theory, but it requires a LOT of memorization. It is for this reason that I enrolled in a 2nd online course that deals in the theoretical side of networking. The course I'm taking now is heavy on practical learning, and doesn't go deep into theory...not enough to pass the test, IMHO.

    I figure it's gonna take about 10-12 months before I'm ready to take the test.


    PS - For anyone thinking of getting their CCNA, I say do it but know what you're getting into.

  10. #730
    Senior Tech 1,000+ Posts kuby's Avatar
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    Re: Need some advice on learning networking

    Yea it is not a piece of cake. Seven of us went to take the test and only three of us passed it. But that was back in 2004.

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