After a few years now of running a fair-size home VMware lab - my thoughts.
- It has gotten me two jobs so far - or rather, it has piqued the interest of interviewers - and thus paid for itself several times over with the resulting salary increases. Good job, Mister Lab.
- It did help me with the VCP4 certification (even though the exam was garbage) - I felt that using physical hosts vs. virtual hosts did give me a 'real-world' advantage, especially around troubleshooting.
- I am now at the point where I've outgrown it, in a way. Or rather, I can only go so far with it, so my time is better spent using old equipment from work.
- To clarify the point above - I have three 16GB hosts at home, but three 64GB hosts at work. Math is simple. OpenFiler "SAN" at home, true iSCSI SAN(s) at work. Etc.
- SSDs were 'just' coming out when I built this - or rather, they were just becoming affordable. My 15k SAS array is kinda stupid now compared to SSD performance/power consumption/price.
- The FC stuff I learned was interesting, but didn't really come close to what you would actually do with FC in a real environment. It was cheap, so no real regrets, but ended up not being super-helpful, either.
- My workstation with 24GB (meant to supplement the lab) ended up being used almost as much, even if it was annoying when it came time for (Windows) reboots and such.
So all that said, I think I'll be shutting down the lab for the time being. It'll save us ~800w of continuous power draw, and it's not like I'm stopping labwork - just moving on to a better environment.