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Moving powered on labs & the perfect $99 IKEA server rack

Joshua Stenhouse 0

I’ve recently been working on finishing our basement and building out a new home office. From painting to laying laminate flooring, to putting up a TV much larger than I should’ve bought, it’s taken a few weekends to finish. But after putting everything together I felt something was missing.

My labs were tucked away in the boiler room! My pride and joy hidden from the world. They look cool where they are, but nobody would ever see them on a Zoom meeting. Even worse, I went to great lengths to make them almost silent, yet they are on top of the jet engine that is a Supermicro Rubrik r344 server/appliance:

Home Lab May 2018

Moving everything into my new office wouldn’t work due to the noise. I could split up the labs and the 2u Rubrik server, but how would I maintain 10GbE connectivity between the 2 given the max 5M cable length of passive SFP+ twinax? I also needed to move the server to somewhere that would deaden the noise, because I could hear it through the floorboards in its current location.

To solve the problem, I first invested in a new server rack. I settled on the new IKEA Bror Utility Cart which does a great job for $99:

20180806_150001It easily fits 2 x 3u of rack equipment with sufficient width to stop the servers sliding all the way back and adjustable height shelves to meet your requirements. Add in the wheels and I think it’s the perfect cheap/movable home server rack. You could fit more but I’d wager the weight would become problematic.

I spray painted the wood on mine black, which in retrospect I wish I hadn’t but never mind. With the 2U server on wheels, I put it in the corner of the garage and attached a hook to hang the loose cables as I move it around to access the front of the server:20180812_144003To feed it power and networking I drilled a decent sized hole through from the basement office:20180811_105151Next was moving my labs. Powering down then booting 180 odd VMs and the associated infrastructure is a massive pain. End to end the task takes around 45-60 minutes because I can’t power on everything at once. I simply don’t have the CPU power for everything to run at full whack. Add in waiting for ESXi hosts, vCenter services, AD/DNS first and it’s painstaking.

However, you may recall in a previous post I recently upgraded each lab to have its own UPS. This means that you can move both together without having to power down anything! As long as you can complete the operation within the battery runtime.

I enlisted the help of my wife to move each lab one by one. She carried the UPS and I the lab itself while staying close enough to ensure we didn’t accidentally disconnect the power. At 25-30 minutes battery runtime we had plenty of time to move, tidy the cables, then reconnect to the power, all without powering anything down. Problem solved!

Here you can see the labs after being moved still running on their respective UPS with 24 mins left on one, 30 the other, with the far left UPS for the 2u appliance which I had to shut down:
20180811_111634The shelving unit they are sat on is the IKEA FJÄLLBO for $99. I found the closed compartments at the bottom are great for hiding those nasty power cables. With everything connected here is the result:
20180812_144856And the nightly light show:
20180812_144959No more noisy Supermicro appliance! In the next blog post on my labs, I’ll share with you the test results taken from my new decibel meter. If you enjoyed this post follow me on twitter for more content and randomness,

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