Why did I purchase my own Server to improve my home infrastructure?

Hey guys this is my first post after a couple of month. I was preoccupied with an important private business, which kept me from writing another post. Because my server at home is now (nearly) 365 online I thought I write about my reasons to buy, build and set it up in my home infrastructure. First I want to sketch my infrastructure before the investment. After that I want to give you a little introduction how I wanted to restructure my home setup. And finally I want to write down the core reasons why I did start the project.

This is my setup one and a half year ago: I used a Fritz!Box 7490 as router which was connected to a RaspberryPi1 and a programmable NETGEAR GS108E. Directly attached to the switch were 2 devices, my first NAS and NUC that was used as a game server and docker host. Via 2 LAN cables with more then 10m range I connected our media center and my gaming computer. The media center consisted of one PS3 (as BluRay player), a Wetek Play as media Streaming device, my second NAS and our TV which served as screen for both devices. All media center components were linked to a RJ45 mini which was powered by one USB-A port attached to my NAS.

This setup grew organicly over the years. As soon as I got a new requirement I purchased a new component to satisfy my needs. The NAS attached to my media center switch was my first. For a long time I used a ZFS filesystem in my NAS4FREE OS. In this NAS there were two Raid5. One was stocked with three 3TB HDD and the other one with three 4TB which lead to a capacity of nearly 14TB. The resource hungry ZFS filesystem forced me use nearly 12GB RAM to maintain the 14TB storage, which was the reason I changed it to normal Raid5 storage.
Because of my messy data organization I bought another NAS (four 4TB HDD in Raid5) from my collegue to avoid cleaning up :). I bought the NUC from a friend who was using it as KODI media center, what I did at first too. After a little while I started using it as TS3 server and kept it running 24/7. Because I was into minecraft during that time my first game server was launched.

After some weeks I added additional services like a musicBot, an ARK Survival Evolved server and a Build Server VM with Atlassian software including JIRA, Bitbucket and Bamboo. The christmas before last I had to add additional 8GB RAM to enable my NUC to run all these services at the same time.

At this time my NUCs utilization was almost 90%-100% which didn’t allow me to grow any further. Because of my job and my interest in virtualization I NEEDED more power :). This is the reason why I was looking forward to my next purchase planned for last christmas. The target infrastructure for what I was aiming for looks like this.

I wanted to accomplish a DMZ by separating our private network through the new hardware into three zones. The public zone (black lines) will transport all data from the internet into the DMZ network and vise versa. The DMZ zone (orange lines) will be visible to the private network but won’t be able to see or access the private network components. The DMZ zone will contain all services activities (TS3, game servers, etc.) and maybe a private self-hosted file server like Owncloud (see my own data cloud and remote access to my media center via owncloud). The new hardware should be suiteable for hypervising and hosting all current services and still remain with enough resouces to play around with virtualization. The host OS I desired was ESXi 6.0.

The main reason I wanted to start this project was to gain experiences in hosting a hardware server with all aspects (setup, cooling, maintenance, organization, security). Next to that I saw multiple opportunities to improve my skills/infrastructure with this project:

  1. own enough resources to host multiple gaming server at once
  2. achive enough flexibility to switch between needs (gaming, working, education, etc)
  3. start and scale (self written) services on demand
  4. work with and learn about docker without paying fees at cloud computing providers

Within my next post I’ll write more about my new hardware and what drove me to choose the setup I purchased a year ago.

This post is also available in deutsch.

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