Having a home lab is a great way to expand your knowledge. I had three main goals in mind when it came to building the home lab.

  • Flexibility – Being able to deploy, reconfigure, test various technologies is a must for any lab environment.
  • Cost – Shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Never shy away from buying refurbished or used gear.
  • Noise Level – My home lab runs in the basement but maintaining low noise level is great.

I have been considering the use of AWS or GCP to host some of the labs. Given that I am pretty happy with my current home lab, the only thing I have been contemplating is the operational expenditure and whether I could save a few Dollars if I moved part of the home lab into the cloud.

Routing and Security
FortiGate 60DI use FortiGate 60D as the primary router and security appliance.

My home lab consists of the following firewalls and routers:

1 x FortiWiFi 60D
1 x FortiWiFi 61E
1 x Cisco 891F
1 x Cisco 4331

Cisco SG300-28PPLayer2 switching is provided by Cisco SG300-28PP for this. This is a great switch for home environments as it provides PoE capabilities along with Gigabit speeds.


Mac MiniThis consists of two Mac Minis running VMware ESXi 5.5. The setup below allows me to run few Linux servers, OpenStack, virtual routers and firewalls.



Apple Mac Mini MC815LL/A
Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-2415M CPU @ 2.30GHz
16 GB Memory
1 – 500GB Disk

The above can be bought used and would cost around $400 each.

Raspberry Pi 2
I use this as a console server and also as a physical Linux desktop.

Wireless Access Points
I use three FortiAP 221C for wireless connectivity. I typically run multiple SSIDs on these access points only to be able to connect to different LAN segments. This helps greatly when testing things such as firewall features or QoS.