When I woke up this morning, I guessed something was wrong as I didn’t had wifi with my phone… My homelab died with at least a disk faillure, maybe memory module damage.. Anyway, my XenServer @ Home is dead for good.

Remember this ? Project XenServer @ Home back in 2008 then 2011 I’ve made almost all the blog post here and test for everyone, customers, friends etc with this piece of computer

This failure bring again the question “Should I go 100% Cloud for my lab ?”

Here is my setup :

  • 1 Domain Controller (subject to have another when multi domain or multi controller are needed for test)
  • 1 Citrix XenApp Delivery Controller (subject to have another or more for some test)
  • 1 SQL Server
  • 1 Web Server
  • 1 Router / Firewall Linux
  • 1 Netscaler VPX (subject to have another or more for some test)
  • 2 Citrix XenApp VDAs
  • 2 Citrix XenDesktop VDAs

So these are at least 10 Vms running all the time

I will do a short study to compare 3 possibilities, AzureOVH (Hosting) – On-Prem

Azure using the pricing calculator :

This is 967$ (per month) for 10 “small” VMs… I can clearly say it’s not on my personal budget I will afford to have 10 VMs in Azure with only 20gb disk… No networks fees are calculated so I guess it will be something like 1300$ per month.

OVH are a french IaaS PaaS etc leader on the EU market, my target her is to rent a physical server with a fixed price per month where I could host all my VMs

I found this offer : Serveur Dédié : SP-128-S for 120$ per month

  • Intel  Xeon E5-1620v2 – 4c/8t – 3,7 GHz/3,9 GHz
  • 128Go DDR3 ECC 1600 MHz
  • 2x480gb SSD

On-Prem, I could go for the small form factor Intel introduced few months back, Mini PC Intel® NUC Kit NUC6i7KYK Skull Canyon and build something around.

  • Intel Skull Canyon 750$
  • 2x16gb memory 300$
  • 1 SSD 480Gb  400$

For 1400$ I would have a complete silent half of lab, I would need two of those so 2800$

In the end we have for a 3 years projection :

This is obvious that Azure will cost me a fortune, I will have some fun in this jungle but it’s clearly not for a lab… The Ovh solution and the On-Prem solution remain my two last choices then. I focused on these two on six years cost.

For the On-Prem solution, I added 1000$ cost to cover eventually the possibility to add a third node to the two Intel Nuc on prem. The OVH renting system is more affordable at first because it’s cheaper  at first. This remain valid on two years only, after that, that will just like money throw out of the window… (French expression to say wasting money)

In the end, I guess I will go with Intel Nuc… what do you think ? What would you do ?


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  • Victor H

    Xeon-D FTW!!!

    My lab is currently based on 2 SYS-5028D-TN4T and it’s awesome because:
    – The CPU is more powerful than a NUC
    – It can accomodate 128GB RAM at max
    – 2x 1Gbps NICs
    – 2x 10G NICs (YEAH, 10G!)
    – IPMI
    – Under average load, it consumes about 60Whr
    – Great WAF!
    – Small in size

    – Not that cheap, but worth the money!

    Take a look!

  • Lars

    I’m with 2x Intel NUC 5i5MHYE and 1x Gigabyte Brix 4770R and i do not reget dis decision. 🙂

    I bought this before “Skull Canyon” was released. Today, the “Skull Canyon” or the new Brix models seems to be interesting.

  • Franck JONNON

    https://www.online.net/fr/serveur-dedie/dedibox-lt : Intel® Xeon® E3 1245 v5 with 4C / 8T @3,5 Ghz / 32 Go DDR4 and 3 × 250 Go SSD for less than 50€ all taxes by month and 72 € for installation, so for 672 € by year you have a better computer than Intel Nuc, and you have 500 Mb/s access to internet and no problem at home 😉

    • This is a fair price, but the more I think the more having an on-prem solution will be the cheapest on a long term – 3 years –
      I kept my “old” server 5 years in its configuration :p

  • Jens Tre

    Hi Stephane,

    regarding the costs of the on-prem lab. Are the costs for electricity already included?

    • Victor H

      If you take a 70Whr average for a Supermicro server like I have and multiply it with 24 and 365, you’ll realize that 93EUR for a year isn’t wow at all, but in the contrary, 70Whr is a lot and I bet Stephane wouldn’t keep that thing running 24x7x365 🙂
      Let’s not forget that electricity is paid monthly.

    • Hi Jens, I didn’t include electricity price because it was not relevant, as Victor mentioned bellow, the electricity price won’t change the bill that much.

  • Timco Hazelaar

    Aloha Stephane, Go with on-prem Intel NUC devices. Its the cheapest solution. I’m currently building a new lab infra myself based on NUC. But I’m still not sure which storage devices I should buy? I have an old Synology currently, but its performance is crap. So I’m looking to buy a replacement.



    • Hi my friend, I hope you’re going well !
      I’m not at storage yet as I will primary use local SSD, I don’t need all the hypervisor treats and tricks for my homelab. But if you’re looking for good storage, you should have a look on latest Qnap and Synology stuffs. Also Eric (XenAppblog.com) made a lot of test and he should be good advice !

  • Timothy Mangan

    I’ve been with the Nucs for 2 years and extremely happy with them. Paul’s solution is more beefy, but I can throw the nucs in a small backpack and be portable.


    • I think I will go for the Nuc, and they do look bad ass with the skull on it o/ 🙂