Why you need a home lab to keep your job

Your boss won't pay for training, so your partner has to put up with servers at home


IT professionals can't assume their employers want, or can afford to, train them in the latest technologies and should hone and acquire new skills at home in a self-built test lab.

That's the opinion of Mike Laverick, VMware's senior cloud infrastructure evangelist.

Laverick has operated a lab for over a decade, starting with a single PC and scaling to a 42U rig that lives in a co-location facility and includes kit donated by vendors. Over the lab's life he has also paid for storage arrays, gigabit switches, servers galore and inadvertently found they provide interesting ways to heat his home.

Laverick's presentation about the lab, which The Reg witnessed at VMware user groups in Sydney and Melbourne, also measures the “Girlfriend impact” of the lab. That metric waxed as it grew, waned a little once it was sent to the colo, then waxed again once the colo bills hit £350 a month. Today, the lab costs £870 a month thanks to the presence of a pair of Dell EqualLogic arrays.

Laverick's vocation for much of the time he built the lab was freelance technology training and writing, so that monthly bill was a necessary expense. He joined VMware in late 2012 but still feels IT pros need to consider their own rigs for reasons of “career preservation”.

“The days of being sent on training courses is gone,” he told the user groups. “The burden is now on you to get the skills and knowledge you need. It is assumed you will learn as you go.”

“I drove my career development by not waiting for my employer to say this is an interesting technology. I told my employer I have used this in my home lab and this is what it can do.”

That attitude, Laverick said, is important given skills operating major enterprise IT products have become commonplace. As certain skills become readily available, Laverick believes IT pros should “make sure your skills don't get depreciated.”

Intriguingly, Laverick's call for a show of hands to discern if any attendees operate home labs saw several arms thrust skyward.

David Brooks, information programs coordinator in the information and communications technology group at Melbourne's Box Hill Institute, hasn't yet built a lab on that scale, relying on a single Core i7 computer with 16 gigabytes of RAM and a sprinkling of solid state disks to get it to a point at which it can run a decent slab of the VMware stack. Brooks uses his lab for the sake of convenience: the Institute operates VMware kit at scale to help students learning about those technologies. But accessing that infrastructure from home is not easy.

Like Laverick, Brooks is an educator. His lab is therefore not a career-saver, but a nice-to-have tool that means he can always access the tools of his trade. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • North Korea pulled in $400m in cryptocurrency heists last year – report

    Plus: FIFA 22 players lose their identity and Texas gets phony QR codes

    In brief Thieves operating for the North Korean government made off with almost $400m in digicash last year in a concerted attack to steal and launder as much currency as they could.

    A report from blockchain biz Chainalysis found that attackers were going after investment houses and currency exchanges in a bid to purloin funds and send them back to the Glorious Leader's coffers. They then use mixing software to make masses of micropayments to new wallets, before consolidating them all again into a new account and moving the funds.

    Bitcoin used to be a top target but Ether is now the most stolen currency, say the researchers, accounting for 58 per cent of the funds filched. Bitcoin accounted for just 20 per cent, a fall of more than 50 per cent since 2019 - although part of the reason might be that they are now so valuable people are taking more care with them.

    Continue reading
  • Tesla Full Self-Driving videos prompt California's DMV to rethink policy on accidents

    Plus: AI systems can identify different chess players by their moves and more

    In brief California’s Department of Motor Vehicles said it’s “revisiting” its opinion of whether Tesla’s so-called Full Self-Driving feature needs more oversight after a series of videos demonstrate how the technology can be dangerous.

    “Recent software updates, videos showing dangerous use of that technology, open investigations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the opinions of other experts in this space,” have made the DMV think twice about Tesla, according to a letter sent to California’s Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), chair of the Senate’s transportation committee, and first reported by the LA Times.

    Tesla isn’t required to report the number of crashes to California’s DMV unlike other self-driving car companies like Waymo or Cruise because it operates at lower levels of autonomy and requires human supervision. But that may change after videos like drivers having to take over to avoid accidentally swerving into pedestrians crossing the road or failing to detect a truck in the middle of the road continue circulating.

    Continue reading
  • Alien life on Super-Earth can survive longer than us due to long-lasting protection from cosmic rays

    Laser experiments show their magnetic fields shielding their surfaces from radiation last longer

    Life on Super-Earths may have more time to develop and evolve, thanks to their long-lasting magnetic fields protecting them against harmful cosmic rays, according to new research published in Science.

    Space is a hazardous environment. Streams of charged particles traveling at very close to the speed of light, ejected from stars and distant galaxies, bombard planets. The intense radiation can strip atmospheres and cause oceans on planetary surfaces to dry up over time, leaving them arid and incapable of supporting habitable life. Cosmic rays, however, are deflected away from Earth, however, since it’s shielded by its magnetic field.

    Now, a team of researchers led by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) believe that Super-Earths - planets that are more massive than Earth but less than Neptune - may have magnetic fields too. Their defensive bubbles, in fact, are estimated to stay intact for longer than the one around Earth, meaning life on their surfaces will have more time to develop and survive.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022