Ever since high school, I have found free or extremely cheap second hand enterprise hardware and converted into personal server equipment running either VMWare ESXi or OpenStack. I’ve had the pleasant surprise of a free VMWare vSphere licenses from Northeastern while I’ve been around and I’ve used those licenses to operate my personal research cluster of a Dell R710 and 2 Dell CS24-SC servers. Combined, this hardware provides me with computing power that would otherwise cost me hundreds of dollars per month to lease from a vendor like AWS.
This research cluster was what kickstarted my interest in developer operations and platform engineering early on. I’ve used it since for everything from personal file hosting up to performing research on internet service provider behavior and identification of rouge internet hosts. Most prominently though, this cluster is my test bed for new platform solutions. Over the years I have experimented with Mesos clusters and Openstack and learned enough to appreciate the VMWare appliances’s ease of use.