What happened to the static site that was live at carsonseese.com? So, where exactly am I going with this blog? Where am I headed with my Homelab? Hopefully this post addresses all those questions.

By the way, my about page was just updated with relevant info (instead of a placeholder), so feel free to check it out!

What happened to carsonseese.com?

For a while, I was maintaining my own "static" site with some basic info on it (Contact info, background, experience, etc), and although I was happy with my design and the information provided.. I'm not a web developer. Adding and updating the information on the site was becoming more and more of a chore and it just didn't make much sense for me to allocate so much time to updating it when I could just share the same information here.

So for now, carsonseese.com redirects to this blog.. but that's only temporary. Once I get the time, I will be putting another static site up under the carsonseese.com domain name, but that will be managed by a CMS and not by hand.

Where am I going with this blog?

At this point, I'm not really sure. For a while I was really considering making it an "anything and everything" place for whatever was on my mind (technology-related or otherwise), but the more I thought about it, I thought that might be too broad a scope.

The field of IT is constantly evolving and proving one's skills is not exactly as simple anymore. Certifications are definitely part of how to easily summarize your skills, but actually seeing those skills implemented can be worth a lot more. So that's where this blog comes in, instead of writing about whatever is on my mind, I am going to keep things technology focused with an emphasis on guides and "how-tos" as a way to make my skills tangible without actually having to talk to me in person.

In addition to what I mentioned above, I also want this to be an informative place where people can learn something. If it wasn't for people willing to share their knowledge with me, the many tech-blogs and writeups I stumbled across online, Stack Overflow, and the Reddit communities like r/homelab, r/selfhosted, and r/sysadmin.. I wouldn't know nearly as much as I do now. I want to be able to share my passion and interests with others, just like others did for me.

Where am I headed with my Homelab?

My Homelab has been evolving since the winter of 2015 and it's not close to stopping. Since I am now a "poor college student" (I have to say that, right?), I can't afford to purchase any additional hardware, but I do have big plans:

Upgrade rack rails: I received an outstanding deal when I purchased my server rack, however it's not quite up to where it needs to be. Currently it only has one set of rails on the front with threaded holes. This works great for mounting my switches and routers, but doesn't exactly make mounting a server possible. I would like to either get a different rack or just 2-sets of square-hole rails for my current rack.

Upgrade my NAS: The 4-bay LG NAS currently in use is working fine, but being limited to only 4 bays and LG's proprietary operating system.. there's not much I can do with it. In addition, my Dell R710 only has 2.5" drive bays, and getting 2.5" drives to fill it isn't a cheap process.

My goal is to either acquire a Synology or Drobo all-in-one system, or go the more enterprise-focused direction with a server chassis that supports 3.5" drives. As for the OS, I am leaning towards FreeNAS or Open Media Vault, although unRAID also looks very interesting. The goal of all of this is to set my NAS and main hypervisor on their own 10Gb network for backups and bulk storage, with the VMs running locally on the hypervisor's storage. Part of this also includes running my own cloud service such as NextCloud and maybe even Plex.

Build a custom router: Currently, an Ubiquiti EdgeRouter X is in place at the edge of my home network. This little box is outstanding for $50, but is a little weak in terms of CPU performance. Because of this, although EdgeOS is capable of inter-VLAN routing, I have not attempted any sort of VLAN configuration in my lab. Considering I am a Cybersecurity student, I thought that it is finally time for me to make security a priority in my lab. Part of this process is setting my lab on a different subnet from the rest of the home network and configuring VLANs on my lab network. Since the ER-X is a little underpowered for router-on-a-stick operation, I started looking at alternatives.

As of now, pfSense and OPNsense seem to be my best options, but both require custom hardware. I would like to find a small 1U box that is low-power and not noisy for this use, although that is a tall order on my budget.. In my search for hardware, I stumbled upon the used WatchGuard Firebox market of firewalls whos software licenses have expired. These devices, after an easy storage and RAM upgrade, have been known to work great as routers running the above two OSs which seems like a perfect fit for my hodgepodge of a homelab.

Get another R710: Don't get me wrong, my R710 is doing great with it's current workload. It's 16 CPU cores and 64GB RAM hasn't even been touched by my mostly light workloads, but I really like the idea of high-availability for virtualized machines. Having a second R710 would give me a chance to work with HA and even run some more demanding services (Such as Security Onion.. something else I want to play around with).

Get some UPSs: Although I do currently have two small APC UPSs.. they cannot do much more than sustain a power flicker with what I have plugged into them. Hopefully I will be able to find a good deal on some rack-mount units at some point to keep me up and running for at least 30 minutes while automated scripts shut things down... but that's down the road a ways.

Believe it or not.. That's it.. for now. Expect more writeups coming soon, I will be talking about the specifics of my reverse-proxy setup, my remote-access SSH portal, and more!