Did you ever get angry to yourself because you broke a working configuration just to try out some new software features?

I believe we all recognise this situation, at least to a certain extent. Certainly in smaller organisations it is not always obvious to try things out in a separate or isolated environment; not to speak about a dedicated lab.

The evolution in virtualisation technologies over the last years brought us a lot of possibilities to overcome these nasty situations. However, you still have to get organised (and disciplined) to systematically take advantage of it when applied in a more complex configuration where more than a single system is involved. Certainly when it comes to a configuration that besides one or more servers (virtual machines) also requires some networking and/or storage components.

While trying to benefit from virtualisation whenever I had to test-drive some new software, I found myself installing the same systems and services again and again, all too often losing time on solving problems that were in fact unrelated to what I wanted to achieve.

This is where I realised that I needed a permanent lab environment. I was ready to invest some time in preparing a lab environment instead of losing time in the heat of the fight of some software evaluation or testing.

It took me a lot of time to get things right, but after all I really started to see the benefits of these efforts. Things I learned from this experience might be valuable to you as well, and maybe you have some interesting viewpoints to share. That’s exactly what motivated me to start this blog which covers numerous technologies combined in a way to facilitate a wide variety of lab exercises.

My own ICT Lab...

That’s exactly where "SoHo Labs" started for me, the desire to have my own ICT lab readily available for upcoming projects.

One could wonder if it is possible at all to have a setup that supports a wide variety of future needs. As with most things in life, we realise there is no such thing as “one size fits all”. The same is true for ICT.

But, you might get a long way down the road when your lab is build with flexibility in mind, and of course with some spare resources for new projects or lab exercises. I strongly believe that a great level of flexibility can be obtained by the right choice of some core technologies to realise your lab setup. That’s exactly what this blog is all about. So I would like to share my experience of the past few years that resulted in a selection of technologies that today facilitate this flexibility to my current projects.

Obviously, your projects may require some technologies that I even don’t mention on this blog. Still, chances are high that it works together with some of the solutions presented here as I mostly use software based on open standards, but keep in mind that this blog aims to provide you with the building blocks rather than a complete solution from A to Z.

What can you expect to find here?

Well, I intend to cover a whole range of system (compute), networking and storage solutions, completed with a great deal of virtualisation and security aspects. Most of the content will deal with software, although some hardware might get mentioned as well, primarily as interesting options for performing tests in smaller labs.

Just to name a few, here is a list of technologies that I might cover in upcoming articles:

  • SmartOS – an Illumos kernel based (OpenSolaris) hypervisor type of OS (by Joyent) that allows you to run virtual systems on the Intel x86 platform.
  • Linux – Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS and Kali Linux
  • FreeIPA, identity management and other LDAP related topics
  • VMware ESXi and VMware Fusion
  • VyOS – a flexible software based router (Vyatta fork)
  • TCP/IP networking and VLANs
  • Wifi solutions (Ubiquiti)
  • OS X and the power it brings to the desktop of technical people, especially when extended with some open source software
  • Security – SSL/TLS and x509 certificates, OpenVPN, firewalls (netfilter and pf), Mutlifactor authentication OTP, smartcards, Yubikey, OAuth2, OpenID Connect etc…

This is a large number of different technologies, so it will certainly take some time before everything gets covered in the upcoming articles. For sure, my current running projects will influence priorities of publication, but your feedback might be taken into account as well (discussions are not facilitated yet). Just let me know which subjects are of most interest to you by using the contact form on this blog. I hope to hear from you!

Enjoy!

Stefan


Disclaimer

Information presented on soholabs.org is for labs and testing purposes only, use at your own risk.


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