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My Home Network

I get asked about my home network quite frequently and since I did a rather major upgrade recently – Funny when one can consider their home network sophisticated enough that one talks in terms of “Upgrades” I figure there is no time like the present to discuss my home network.

My network a few years ago went though a consolidation – I had three dedicated machines, 1 for web serving of pictures etc and file serving running linux, 1 for email again running linux and 1 acting as a firewall.  This is aside from the 2 PCs and 1 Mac I had at the time, needless to say, I was consuming a great deal of power and running all this was getting to be a real burden.

About 2.5 years ago, when VMWare made VMWare Server free, I moved to VMWare Server running on Linux and consolidated my three machines two 1 machine.  I switched from Linux to FreeNas for file serving, since it was more “NAS Like” than just a Linux box with NFS and SMB shares, and moved my email into Google Apps.  I was now running 1 physical server with Linux and 2 VMs, one Firewall (PFSense) and one Filer, FreeNAS.  The network remained this way for the last 2-2.5 years.

Recently I began to find running my NAS in VMWare server rather limiting.  I had recently built a Home Theater PC for running XBMC and wanted to move more of my content into the NAS – FreeNAS just wasn’t doing what I wanted.  Plus I wanted to move to VMWare ESXi and run of NFS; I’m a BIG fan of running VMWare on NFS.  Back at VMWorld I stumbled across an offer by Iomega for a discount off their newly released ix4-200d 4 Bay NAS.  It wasn’t a Netapp, but I’ll live.  I received my 4TB Iomega “filer” last week and spent the weekend moving over to it and moving VMWare to ESXi.

The Iomega ix4-200d has 2 Gb ports and a whole host of features, but it was the 2Gb ports that sold me. Switching is provided by a pair of switches, my “Core” is a Linksys SRW2008MP 8-port Gigabit PoE switch.  Connected to this are the majority of the devices at home, 2 PCs, 1 Mac, 1 Laptop, 1 netbook, 802.11g Linksys PoE Wireless access point, and a smaller no-name Gigabit switch that connect my Home Theater PC and my Sony PS3 in my home theater.

My current network looks like this:

My Home Network

My Home Network

While it’s far from the largest home network, I do practice what I preach when it comes to VMWare & NFS. ESXi has two virtual switches bound to the two interfaces in my Quad core “server” – One for storage and one for internal network.  As my machine only has two physical interfaces (ESXi isn’t compatible with the other internal card), I run a separate VLAN so my firewall can PPPoE via the DSL modem to the Internet.

The Iomega ix4-200d isn’t a Netapp, but it will have to do.  Up next is to configure one of the killer features of the ix4-200d, and that’s remote off-site replication (rsync) to another ix4-200d running at a friend’s place.  It’s simply rsync but is certainly better than nothing and since Netapp doesn’t make a smaller filer like this I’ll have to live without block level Snapmirror.  Funnily enough since my friend’s network is also running ESXi and is on the same DSL provider as I am, my firewall & Linux machine should come up with little help if I ever decide to have him push the “big red” DR button. 🙂

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