I had never heard of a homelab before and if someone had asked me about it I would have assumed that someone was running some sort of underground pharmaceutical ring out of their basement. Turns out in the world of IT there are a group of highly motivated individuals that run their own test environments at home. Some of these labs are extremely complex and worth thousands of dollars. These homelabs are well worth the time and finances invested in them and there are some awesome examples over at /r/homelab. They allow IT professionals to keep up to date on bleeding-edge technologies and train for certification exams. My only problem, especially as a new player in the world of IT, was the cost of standing up an entire network that simulated all the needs of an enterprise environment. With VMware you don’t have that problem.
Racks? Unnecessary. Switches? Don’t need them. Dozens of ethernet cables? Don’t think so. My desktop wasn’t even extremely powerful. I had built it myself a couple years before and it just happened to support Intel VTx, but more importantly Intel VT-d. The former is necessary to run virtualization software but the latter is a requirement for hardware virtualization. Over time I’ve added more and more to my desktop but it is still far more efficient to add more resources to one machine than it is to build another machine entirely.
My ESXi Host is home to two virtual Windows gaming rigs, a Linux command center, a Docker development server, a security surveillance server, a test mail and Apache web server, an Active Directory test environment and I have plans on implementing a storage area network. Everything is highly scalable and almost everything is open-source.