back to article Why you need a home lab to keep your job

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 …

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  1. AchimR
    Coffee/keyboard

    Lucky?

    Guess I'm lucky then that the company I'm at values progression and pays for training courses? Admittedly it's the first company I'm with who do it, previous three didn't, but still...

    My "home lab" pales in comparison to the article's "lab", three desktops, one laptop, three switches, six screens, I guess the only one profiting from it is probably my electricity supplier :(

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      Re: Lucky?

      If you get a chance, check out "Synergy" (for Linux, Mac, Win, http://synergy-foss.org/), and Mouse Without Borders (by Microsoft Garage, Win only, http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=35460). Both programs allow you to share a single mouse and keyboard among several computers across a network. My home lab is so much more useful now that I can sit here and control 3 to 4 computers from one mouse and keyboard.

      1. Scott 26

        Re: Lucky?

        Input Director is what I use at work.

        Windows only, though. And at the time I was using Synergy you couldn't share the clipboard (I see you can now).

        Plus synergy's configuration was a bitch (easier to manually edit the config file) - look easier now.

        home labs: mine has just died... and of course I have no support (obsolete, hand-me-down hardware from work) so I'm buggered.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Linux

          Re: Lucky?

          > "Input Director is what I use at work."

          For Windows machines, you might want to try Mouse Without Borders. The development seems to be more active than for Input Director, and it's got full support for Win8 now. I'm having real good success with it. One interesting thing about this program is that you MUST run the same version of the program on all machines. I had a devil of a time with it the one day until I realized I had installed a newer version on one of the new machines in the configuration.

          Synergy has come a long way the past couple of years, and has a pretty full set of features. It's very nice to be able to jump from a Linux workstation directly into a Windows 7 laptop. Synergy tends to lose the connection a bit more frequently (maybe once every couple of hours), but that's to be expected in such a mixed environment. Synergy does have a GUI front-end for Linux, but it's just as easy to start from the terminal with the "synergys" or "synergyc" command, pointing it at the IP address of the other machine.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Thumb Up

            Re: Lucky?

            I used synergy in my last job, my desk had a Linux desktop on one monitor and an XP laptop driving the other monitor.

            Keyboard, mouse and could cut/paste text between them. Very nice.

            Windows GUI, Linux you have to set up a config file and use synergys/synergyc, but once setup it is a joy to use.

          2. lozhurst
            Thumb Up

            Re: Lucky?

            > Synergy tends to lose the connection a bit more frequently (maybe once every couple of hours)

            I tunnel Synergy over an ssh connection (using Putty if a Windows machine is involved) and do not experience disconnects. It also gets around that pesky 'synergy sending plain keystrokes over the network' security issue.

      2. feanor

        Re: Lucky?

        +1 for Synergy. Its a superb bit of kit. Not the most intuitive to setup, but not really that hard. Free, Open Source and cross-platform. I mean what else do you want?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lucky?

        "If you get a chance, check out "Synergy" "

        I just did. And I think it will change my life.

        I didn't even know this product existed. I installed it on mac/win/linux in minutes and immediately threw out two keyboards/mice. And I can copy/paste across machines! Genius!

        Thanks, Andy Prough, you made an old man very happy.

        1. BlueGreen

          Re: Lucky? (am I missing something?)

          What's wrong with a KVM? You may need a good one to drive a high res monitor (crap ones kill the signal) but it worked for me when I needed it.

          (okay, you can't copy/paste but still)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Lucky? (am I missing something?)

            > "What's wrong with a KVM? You may need a good one to drive a high res monitor (crap ones kill the signal) but it worked for me when I needed it."

            Nothing wrong with KVM. However, Synergy and Mouse Without Borders are free, whereas a good KVM can run you $80 to $100 (cheaper for used or for less powerful devices). Plus, with the software solutions, you don't have to physically switch a button to go from one computer to the other - it's seamless. The KVM switches I've looked at all required some type of physical interaction with the box in order to switch computers.

            1. JEDIDIAH
              Linux

              Re: Lucky? (am I missing something?)

              ...you've got 3 or 4 complete PCs and possibly even Macs and you are worried about the cost of a KVM switch?

              Really?

      4. AchimR
        Pint

        Re: Lucky?

        I wouldn't cope without Synergy in the first place ;) (depending of course if I am trying other network stuff out, where ports may be closed for the time being of course).

        One "disadvantage" over time is, I completely lose track where my mouse icon is, heh :)

        Beer, from one synergy user to another.

      5. JEDIDIAH
        Linux

        Re: Lucky?

        ...or you could just use X and RDP. You don't even need to be in the same room with the other PCs.

        A KVM switch is also an obvious solution. You can share the monitor too.

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lucky?

        Or you could just fire up Lync and share your desktop....

    2. Magani
      Unhappy

      Re: Lucky?

      @AchimR : Yes, consider.yourself lucky.

      At the final interview my last employer promised me that they would allow me to maintain/improve my skill set. When push came to shove and I wanted to do a course that would help both them and me, they offered to pay my entry to a local computer expo.

      Where's a BOFH icon when you want it?

    3. Rick Giles
      Linux

      Re: Lucky?

      I've been seriously looking at solar panels and batteries to run my home lab. It's small enough right now that it wouldn't take to much of an investment to get that ball rolling.

      1. AchimR
        Pint

        Re: Lucky?

        I'm thinking along similar plans. Once I buy a house over time I want to switch electricity supply to solar panels and whatever else will be available for home renewable energy use (e.g. wind, depending on location).

        Also planning to swap all regular bulbs to LED bulbs, 1/10th of the Wattage, same light. Light up full house for less W than previously just one room.

        And that money saved could go into more lab tech (or into my motorbike...)

        Beer, it's Friday, end of week (unless on on-call schedule, my thoughts are with you).

    4. big_D Silver badge
      FAIL

      Not just training...

      I used to live an hour away from work. The computers we had for our OLAP solution were so "powerful", that it was actually quicker to compress the export, copy it to USB, drive home, copy it onto my "home" PC, recalculate the datase, copy it onto USB and drive back to the office and copy it over the original database!

  2. John Tserkezis

    Agreed, but.

    ...try telling the employers who look only at certificates.

    For them, a piece of paper always trumps years of solid hands-on experence.

    Fun to watch when it bites them on the arse though.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Agreed, but.

      Glad I find most employers ask for experience over anything else nowadays, 10 years ago they just all wanted a degree!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Mushroom

      Re: Agreed, but.

      Not when the guy with the certificate gets hired and it turns out that if it wasn't on the test, he doesn't know it.

  3. jsmith100

    This is so true. I have been running a home lab of some kind since 1999. Mike actually trained me on VMware 3.5 :)

    In addition to having a small home VMware 'production environment', I recently built a new desktop PC with 32GB of RAM. Using a couple of SSD's, I can easily lab many environments. Of course this was all at my own expense, but it will pay off in several ways over the longer term.

    As a PAYE employee, training has always been very difficult to obtain, somehow employers seem to expect that you magically know everything about the next version of products before they are even released! If you are working in consultancy as I do, customers also (and rightly so) assume you should have top skills.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There are companies that love to not train employees on the basis that it lowers their mobility. A home lab is especially important to help you get yourself out of those shit-holes.

    1. gromm

      Well said. I was about to respond to the article with something "thanking" the author for making it harder for the rest of us who don't have $10k to sink into the hottest new computer hardware.

  5. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    Pint

    How about an Arduino and a laptop?

    Maybe a Raspberry Pi with a handful of accessories.

  6. 404 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Far more advanced than I

    My wife despairs at the amount of parts, servers, towers full, empty, and in-between, domain up, domain down - as long as I don't lose her data (it was an honest mistake, dogs and kids interfering, bad command, really! I fsck.exe'd up and it was very successful lol)

    ;)

    1. deadlockvictim Silver badge

      Re: Far more advanced than I

      Your wife should look after her own data and be responsible for her own backups.

      Backing up and backup maintenance is a tedious bloody chore and it comes under the category of personal responsibility.

      Hopefully this will not result in any marital disharmony.

  7. ShelLuser
    Happy

    That was a tad obvious, no ?

    "“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."

    Talk about open doors. I mean this has been an issue forever already which is also heavily depending on the company you work for and/or are involved with. The reason I consider this an open door is simple; most of the more skilled people I either know or have met have mostly gained their experience on their own. Sure; sometimes a training course can give you a good foundation to work on, but to really get into the subject you'll want to dive in on your own.

    Hmm, could this be the reason why schools in the old days used to give us these tasks to do called "homework" ?

    Naaah ;-)

  8. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

    Argh!

    There are all sorts of problems with having a home lab. The noise the damn things make is one of them, I used to have an HP N-Class at home, it wasn't so much noisy in other parts of the house, as it was quite noisy outside in the street when it was running. Fortunately someone took pity on me and lent me a spare corner in a data centre, so the rx7620, disk arrays, stack of other Itanium and ProLiant servers no longer have to live in the house. The 10 smaller Linux boxes still take up space.

    I just wish the UPS didn't need a fan.

    Please can we have a noise rating for all new systems tested :-)

    1. James Anderson

      Re: Argh!

      You can rent a reasonably powerfully VPS for as little as 12 quid a month, and load it with the software of your choice.

      It probably has a noisy fan, but as its in a sub basement in another city this should not bother 'we indoors. An added advantage is there are no cables for your significant other to trip over. It's so unfau when you get an ear bashing when they just crashed your system.

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Argh!

        But what if you want to try running a VPS server of your own, even a leased dedicated server doesnt give you as much control as having a machine right next to you.

        Also taking your own backups can be a pain, where as with the machine next to you, slap in usb drive.

        1. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

          Re: Argh!

          But I need to practice doing things I can't do a VPS. Like running clusters full of virtual machines :-) why else would I own an HP rx7620 :-)

          1. Lusty Silver badge
            Holmes

            Re: Argh!

            "why else would I own an HP rx7620"

            Reminiscing about the good old days of Itanium when it might have turned out successful?

    2. Galidron
      Unhappy

      Re: Argh!

      My concern tends to lean toward having to spend over $60k building such a lab. Considering how much enterprise class security devices cost I would need one hell of a pay raise if I'm expected to be building my own lab.

    3. gromm

      Re: Argh!

      Nevermind this little thing called "real estate".

      I live in a place where it's actually quite uncommon to have anything in your basement besides renters, because you can't afford the mortgage otherwise. And *that* is only if you have a detached house. Most people around these parts appear to be living in condos or townhouses. Put the rack in the living room? When pigs fly.

      1. Daniel B.
        Boffin

        Re: Argh!

        What would seem at a first glance as my 'living room' is actually half living room, half an unwalled space meant to be a third room. I have mostly used the latter space functionally as a "third room", and lo and behold, this is where all my IT gear lives. That includes my very first "home lab" which given that the hardware isn't top notch (and wasn't when I built it back in 2009) is now lagging. Though the 8Gb RAM helps.

        These days, most of my "lab" resides in the 16Gb RAM, i5-powered MBP I take to work, which gives me the advantage of carrying my lab with me to work. For the stuff I use these days, VMs cover most of my needs.

  9. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Holmes

    The Catch-22 Secnario

    When you boss makes you put some training (which he company will pay for) in your goals and said company keepy you far too busy to attend the training and thus gives your boss an opportunity to mark you down in your end of year review for 'not attending the training'.

    Pah.

    The other reason for keeping your home lab is that many companies lock everything down so tight these days that actually installing a bit of sofware is like getting a bill making hard drugs legal through parliament. With your home server you are you own sysadmin.

    In my last job, the IT dept finally admitted that some of us know more about the system we develop for that they did and gave us (very reluctantly) local admin rights on our dev machines.

    1. Rambler88
      Trollface

      Re: The Catch-22 Secnario

      "In my last job, the IT dept finally admitted that some of us know more about the system we develop for that they did and gave us (very reluctantly) local admin rights on our dev machines."

      Now you know what it feels like to be a user.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Catch-22 Secnario

        The reason is that developers install all sorts of crap on their workstations and need to be re-installed every 3 months or so.

        They aren't necessarily competent, they just think that they are.

    2. Lord Voldemortgage

      Re: The Catch-22 Secnario

      " the IT dept finally admitted that some of us know more about the system we develop for that they did and gave us (very reluctantly) local admin rights on our dev machines."

      What did you break first and how did they fix it?

      ;)

    3. Irongut

      Re: The Catch-22 Secnario

      In my last job the IT dept gave me local admin rights for all the PCs on the factory floor because I could fix them when they couldn't. Technically I was a developer in a different dept. They used to phone me to suggest fixes for the office PCs too.

      My current job is for a small company so I do a bit of everything and I decide who gets what access. :)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's been my MO since I was 10yo.

    School was for things my mum wanted me to learn. I took care of the rest myself.

  11. RISC OS
    Joke

    Luckily for most who will even consider having servers at home...

    ...the "Girlfriend impact" doesn't come into the equation ;)

    1. Andy2830
      Thumb Up

      Re: Luckily for most who will even consider having servers at home...

      I would laugh if it wasn't true

      1. dogged

        Re: Luckily for most who will even consider having servers at home...

        There are ways around it. Many NAS boxes are capable little servers. I have two HP boxes, a Mini running two debian VMs and a Mediasmart 495 (hardware hacked for decent chip and 8GB of RAM) running Windows Server 2012 with one extra 2012 VM for exchange and SQL.

        These are quiet, quiet little boxes. Low-power, too. And the hot-swappable drives are a real bonus.

    2. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

      Re: Luckily for most who will even consider having servers at home...

      ...the "Girlfriend impact" doesn't come into the equation ;)

      Well the wife won't let me have a girl friend so that's not a problem.

      She does get a bit hacked off about all the computers in the house.

      But she gets far more hacked off when any of the keys ones aren't working so she can't work.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Luckily for most who will even consider having servers at home...

        I would however suggest that for many of us, looking after work servers is much like having kids.

        They are both expensive, keep you up late at night occasionally, have temper tantrums and require you to spend time with them after work and at weekends.

        Seriously though, who hasn't got a bunch of equipment at home too play with? I wouldn't say I have a "home lab" but I do have a few bits of equipment that ended up coming home to play with instead of being binned.

    3. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      Re: Luckily for most who will even consider having servers at home...

      Why would wives be an issue? Just have a den / home office / man cave.

      If they aren't completely mindless they might even appreciate where you're coming from.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Idiot sexist

    Sexist for obvious reasons that he thinks only blokes would have such an interest, and idiot for choosing to splash 870 a month on what at that rate is no longer a home lab but a personal obsession. I've run servers at home since 1995 but don't think they've run me.

    Mixed feelings about the sentiment he expresses though. Many in technology are in it out of interest anyway and enjoy the pace of change, so doing extra-curricula stuff outside of work is more hobby than intended for the somewhat single-minded reason of making oneself saleable.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Idiot sexist

      I assume Mike isn't reliant on a typical computer industry salary (and hasn't been for sometime) and hence the 870 a month is of no consequence to him.

      For most people 870 a month would go a long way to paying the mortgage on a half decent house.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Idiot sexist

        You must be in the wrong part of the computer industry. I nearly get that a day.

  13. Rob Crawford
    Joke

    I suspect

    that most of the people advocating such things have no offspring (and from the looks of things never will)

    1. gromm
      Pint

      Re: I suspect

      Yes, I once did some training at home in my spare time.

      Back when I had spare time.

  14. devongarde

    I'm in my mid 50s. The only time I got on a decent training course that helped develop my career was when I ran it myself.

    You can't presume bosses will put your interests before their employers'. I'm still working in the industry because, like most people in this discussion, I've made the effort to keep my skillset contemporary in my own time. That nice Mr Gates stills pays my wages, indirectly, so I get MSDN subscriptions with permanent licences, and have done on and off for 20 years. I do something similar with Apple kit.

    Because my goal is self-education, not performance, I buy quiet, small hardware, that doesn't irritate and doesn't get in the way. My current servers are Soekris boxes for BSD servers, & Mac Minis, with maxed out specs, with virtual Windows and Linux servers.

  15. GrumpyJoe
    FAIL

    But if this cycle continues

    That is yet another part of the work 'contract' that has gone, along with security in a job and pensions etc. If your employer doesn't pay, and no other employer does, but they don't increase your wage to cover it, then they've just successfully offset a business expense to YOU - that's a sucker's deal.

    At that point, apart from a monthly salary (which in the current environment isn't guaranteed anymore, neither is loyalty, respect etc.) what are we doing working for these assholes?

    As you say, they are lucky it is most of our's hobby, I've got a small network I run at home for my family, but that's MY thing, and it's not for my employer to offset a business cost to me.

    Anybody else a bit pissed off at this? The defeatist attitude is worrying.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But if this cycle continues

      Fuck the fuckers, outsource yourself and start contracting

    2. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: But if this cycle continues

      Can you offset the cost of these things against tax if you are a regular PAYE employee?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: But if this cycle continues

        I wouldn't think so, but if you had a small freelance income, it'd be fine. I say this because I do something similar. In my case, I earn maybe 2.5/3k a year freelance, and spend most of that on related kit. Not hobbyist stuff at all. The idea is that if my company goes tits-up, I can spin up to earning enough reasonably quickly. HMRC have not raised any query on this. Last year I paid a little tax, 150 or so on those earning as a consequence. I have to say though that this is an entirely sincere endeavour, and not at all iffy. I mean: I could look anyone in the face and go through the paperwork.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: But if this cycle continues

        >Can you offset the cost of these things against tax if you are a regular PAYE employee?

        Yes!

        However, I would strongly advise you ensure that you have some formal communication from you employer with words to the effect that employees "should hone and acquire new skills at home in a self-built test lab". So that it effectively becomes a condition of employment - otherwise if HMRC investigated they would treat your self-built test lab as a hobby.

        Note that as an employee you will limited to £3 a week (£4 a week from 6-Apr-13) as a expense for the use of your home, however you would be able to claim for the conversion of the garage/shed etc. into a test lab.

    3. Daniel B.
      Boffin

      Re: But if this cycle continues

      It depends on your job. If you acquire enough know-how with your home lab, it could be that you end up either outsourcing yourself (for real, not the scam that Verizon worker pulled off), opening up your own IT consulting business, or just polishing up your CV for better employers.

      Either way, it'll pay off.

  16. LyleS
    Go

    I only got my HP MicroServer past my girlfriend as it's a file server, now she has a tablet she can see the benefit and it also feeds the SqueezeBox so she does see some benefit.

    Remember and sell the benefits to the users guys :)

    1. taxman
      Coat

      The Who?

      Girlfriend.

      Squeezebox.

      Yes I see it now.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Is your girlfriend that large that she blocks the doorway then?

  17. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. Alfred

    Alexei Sayle

    To paraphrase Alexei Sayle (and trust in the ability to El Reg readers to extend conclusions), anyone who uses the word "workshop" to describe something that doesn't contain a lathe is taking himself too seriously.

    1. AceRimmer
      Facepalm

      Re: Alexei Sayle

      Is that Alexei Sayle the renowned metal and wood worker?

      Leave comedians to their comedy, it's only ever got enough fact in it to make it funny

      1. Michael Strorm

        We like to hear him swear on the TV, hee hee hee...

        AceRimmer:"Is that Alexei Sayle the renowned metal and wood worker?"

        Actually, to be fair to Alexei, the exact quote as I remembered it- and which Google seems to back up- was:-

        "Anyone who uses the word 'workshop', who isn't involved in light engineering, (*) is a right twat."

        This lends itself nicely to paraphrasing too, e.g. to anyone outside the music industry using the word "funky" as a cliched marketing attempt to make brightly-coloured soft furnishings sound cool (^_^)

        (*) On reflection, one could be pedantic about use of the word "engineering" here, but the meaning (i.e. light industry) was obvious enough, and it was funny, so I don't care :-P

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: Alexei Sayle

      This annoys me too, when people call lectures or classes 'workshops'.

      If it doesn't have a bench with tools, it isn't a workshop! :)

      1. Joe Harrison Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Alexei Sayle

        Before I got into computers I went for a job as a lathe operator but I was turned down.

        1. Not_The_Droids
          Coffee/keyboard

          Re: Alexei Sayle

          Never heard of a computer killing their operator. Or getting your hair caught in a computer ending up in a video on Youtube. Lathes, on the other hand, can be quite vindictive if mistreated...

          I have two... An old South Bend, and a newer Grizzly. So I suppose my shop is a proper "workshop", but I don't do as much work as I'd like out there these days. Oddly enough, my shop has no IT kit in it, but I'm working on that (about to put up a tower to pass a network connection via radios from the house to the shop).

  19. Rob Crawford

    May I also point out

    That the following management attitude still exists :

    If you need training then you are admitting that you can't do your job.

    Although this doesn't apply in my current job, the fact that the training budget is taken off us and given to other departments about 2 months into the financial year doesn't help matters (No we cant send everybody away in the first few weeks because there would be nobody left to to all the things we can't do)

    Still it could be worse (and in the past has been)

    1. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

      Re: May I also point out

      "training budget is taken off us"

      If this happened, it wasn't a training budget. It was a lie. Do you enjoy working for liars?

      If the other departments didn't set up their budgets properly, that's their problem. That's the whole point of budgeting - you estimate (it's a predictive thing) how much you'll need for the budgeting period, and if you get it wrong, you take your lumps. Setting a budget for X should ringfence that much money to do / buy / etc. X. If it's not ringfenced, it's just an exercise in wishful thinking, and there's probably no spending discipline, and there goes the company.

      If someone messed up their budgeting so badly that they need to steal from other departments' budgets only a few months into the year, they need sacking, probably with a baseball bat. (Hint: exceptional circumstances can trigger a new round of the budgeting exercise, so the unfortunate who is overtaken by unforeseen events has a safety belt.)

      1. Jean Le PHARMACIEN

        Re: May I also point out

        Clearly you have never worked for the NHS. I'm in clinical (non medic) and this 'budget theft' is the the norm. My home lab is for personal education for when I jump the NHS ship (>26 yrs long enough to be dangerous to your health

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And this is yet another reason why I'm trying to get out of this business as soon as I can. (Posting AC for the obvious reason that I still have to function in it in the mean time :))

  21. Bob H

    For a while I have been planning to turn my garage into a workshop, with benches, racking, bench tools, 3d printing, small CNC, test equipment, servers, etc. I am getting quotes to make it waterproof (it currently leaks rain badly) and then I will build out the lab.

    My wife came home this week and actually said these words:

    "the penny dropped today, you need to build your workshop so that you can progress and make your millions."

    I love my wife...

  22. John Jennings
    WTF?

    My gypsy employer said that her budget, for IT training, for over 1000 staff was only 20K. I had to pay for my own training.

    I did, and vowed to get my own rigs to test and apply training since.

    I basically didnt retire my home PCs, and took decent kit and upgraded as necessary.

    I found that a decent core2 Duo proc with enough ram (8 GB for most stuff) is enough to run 3 vms as dedicated dev boxes (web server, database server, appserver). Not ideal, but it can get the job done. A decent shuttle AMD64 runs a a dual media head and general file server. I even have a couple of PIs running as tests....

    Cloud storage offers the core backups of dev boxes, along with image saves.

    This plan is grand, if its dev work you are interested in. If it were infrastructure/storage, it would be a higher mountain to climb.....

    Foo

  23. Jim 59

    "He joined VMware in late 2012..."

    So the WVware staffer is cheerfully saying VMware would like us to buy thousands of VMware rigs :-)

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

    Intriguing ? A fair proportion of Reg readership has been doing this for decades, even before home networks became the norm. Mostly with visualization but we all know a boffin who has industrial hardware ticked away. Nowadays plug computers are on the menu too.

    On the subject of training, isn't it the case that companies train young grads but expect us oldies to adapt our existing knowledge ? What say you young 'uns ?

  24. Longrod_von_Hugendong
    FAIL

    WTF....

    Mouse and screen sharing??? Get [*nix|OSX|FreeBSD], learn how to use <insert your shell here> and SSH, that is all you need. Get some PI's or old cast off gear.

  25. Fiddler on the roof
    WTF?

    Loooooooser

    It's people like this that make working in the IT industry awful sometimes, he spends his free time learning new skills and honing them on his home built test lab. I'm guessing he doesnt have much of a life, how can people with a family and a social life compete with this? I'm just glad I dont know him because he must be as boring as a sack of coal.

    We get this at our place, I'll model this over the weekend, can you do the write up for Monday? When you say no I shall be enjoying my life and family over the weekend they look at you as if you've just headbutted the queen.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Loooooooser

      I agree, many a time colleagues have asked if I can provide test results/reports/documents etc, etc either;

      A. after 7pm at night (after a full day)

      B. during the weekend

      The answer is no to both, as in all honesty i'm not responsible for keeping people alive nor trying to prevent armageddon.

      too many people think this sort of thing "marks them out" for better things.

      Marks them F*&^%$ing out alright!

    2. The FunkeyGibbon
      Thumb Up

      Re: Loooooooser

      I can't upvote this enough. Given a choice between 4 hours of research and practice in SharePoint Development or running about trying to give myself a heart-attack in the local softplay emporium with my son the latter will always win. I read, I write (a bit) and I play games. I drink and have social interaction. What I don't do is take work home with me. When I leave for the day my work phone goes off.

      Home lab? Pffft.

      1. Daniel B.
        Boffin

        Re: Loooooooser

        "Given a choice between 4 hours of research and practice in SharePoint Development or"

        Given a choice between *anything* Microsoft, and *anything else*, I'll go for *anything else* anytime! Even more so if it's working hours. Thankfully, I rarely have to deal with MS crap.

        That said, given my line of work, stuff I do on the 'home lab' will affect my future income. So sure, I can lay off the home lab, but that means I will run out of income further down the road. Sure, I *do* add up personal time & rest, so I'm not doing "home research" 24/7.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

  26. Crisp Silver badge

    I don't work for free.

    And learning new skills to benefit the company that employs me *is* work.

    So I'll be doing my training during work hours thankyouverymuch.

    1. Pastafarian

      Re: I don't work for free.

      Same here - My firm supplies a CBTnuggets account to do online training videos but expect us to do it in our own time. No effing way am I using my own time, and training videos aren't as good as having a real machine to work on.

      P.S. If you create a training lab, where do you get all the software from? How much do they charge now for Server2012?

      1. Crisp Silver badge

        Re: Where do you get all the software from?

        Either open source, or I download developer editions of software from my MSDN account.

        BTW, I do actually have a home lab, but that's for my personal use. Not my employers.

        Because it's currently geared up to construct an army of robotic super soldiers.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Where do you get all the software from?

          Me too, except I use Technet.

          I just moved my home cluster to Hyper-V from vSphere - as VMware are over the curve now imo, and Microsoft are going to own that market space....

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Licenses

        The Microsoft Action Pack allows you to use many MS products for research/dev/training and internal use for a fairly affordable price (~£150 IIRC).

  27. Rocket_Rabbit
    Stop

    Lifecycles

    This is an interesting topic because I am now in a position of Management trying to train up my staff.

    I firmly believe in IT training and the company should understand that it's a lifecycle - Person is new, they are trained, they gain experience, and after 2 years if they haven't been promoted, they leave.

    There is nothing wrong with thinking like this and the fact we have Software/Hardware lifecycles should mean that it shouldn't be a taboo subject. People move on, trying to stagnate them will only backfire.

    Ultimately, companies should offer it because whilst they may think that they are preventing people from moving, what they are essentially doing is keeping hold of the dross.

  28. The Dark Lord
    Stop

    Creeping Death

    I agree with the posters who've said that this is yet another way in which companies take the piss out of their employees. And some employees actively encourage it. I know several people who have home labs that they spend the weekends working on.

    And it's work. Not even hobbyist tinkering, it's proper work. They then get a significant advantage during the working week because they're making the rest of us (those with families, hobbies, etc) look like we're thick. We're not thick, we're just not donating two days a week of free labour to the company.

    It pisses me off, and it pisses me off that managers then EXPECT that out-of-hours working from everyone. In this timesheet-obsessed cost-cutting world, personal development is long gone. Companies obsessed with growth need to do some of the nurturing that growth requires. And employees with home labs need to understand that they're undermining their colleagues and themselves.

    1. Dancing With Mephisto
      Thumb Down

      Re: Creeping Death

      Some people have home labs because it is, to them, a hobby. It's your choice to have a family and other hobbies. It's theirs to have a home lab and use that extra knowledge in the work place.

      1. sabroni Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: it is, to them, a hobby

        Well then they obviously weren't bullied enough at school.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: it is, to them, a hobby

          Alternately, they could know full well what it entails and use it to progress professionally instead of being stuck in their existing (crap) jobs.

          / signed someone who was probably once at the level of one of your co-workers level, currently a manager and about to start his own company.

          Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

          1. sabroni Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: it is, to them, a hobby

            Alternatively they could just be sad losers with no friends and nothing better to do than "start their own company". Such poor social skills they're unemployable more like.....

            Icon just for buffoons who can't spot a piss take...

  29. Anton Zeelie
    Unhappy

    Why is it only IT personnel that has to go to these lengths?

    We should NOT have to do this. Again, companies only pay lipservice to saying they understand the importance of IT to the business. If they did, they would realise that paying for training is part and parcel of the business budget. A LOT more so than those company cars, business lunches, team-building exercises for the Sales/Marketing/HR team etc. I blame US - the hard-working IT peeps who just take everybody's nonsense to our own detriment.

    And I don't know who you work for to be able to spend 870 a month on a home lab - can I send you my CV?? With a family, spending that amount of money just is not possible. And I don't get paid to do all that extra training myself in any case. (Even though I do, but it is so wrong on so many levels!) But us Geeks don't have the backbone to stand up and start letting business understand we need to be paid what we are worth and the company has to invest in us. But then, they are ruthless and not really ethical - they will rather get rid of us and employ somebody who has the skills in "the flavour of the month".

    Why do companies only know what our "worth" is when they make us redundant - don't even TRY getting access to the network You might get a SMS to say "don't come to work tomorrow, we will courier your personal stuff to you..." (Fortunately hasn't happened to me, but I know of places where something similar has happened to the geeks...)

    1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

      Re: Why is it only IT personnel that has to go to these lengths?

      I think that companies understand that employees will eventually move to "greener pastures", because times of lifetime employment are well and truly past (in private sector, to say at least). Providing employees with training only makes them more employable by the competition. On the other hands, employees who are truly enthusiastic about particular technologies, will acquire training/knowledge/practice on their own account, thus making themselves more employable. If that does not pay off with the current employment, it might pay with the future one.

      Oh yes of course, plenty of employers (especially large corporations) like to make an impression they will guide you by hand, setting so called "career paths". These are only designed to make you more useful to the company, not necessarily more employable. In particular, there are few, if any, selleable technical skills to be acquired this way.

      C'est la vie, stop complaining and teach yourself what you want to know. Or if you don't, don't be surprised if you find your skill unsellable to other employers.

      1. GrumpyJoe
        Thumb Down

        Re: Why is it only IT personnel that has to go to these lengths?

        And if every company expects people to move to 'greener pastures', and none of them train? They ALL get saddled with idiots (arguably what is actually happening in the industry now anyway).

        You are playing a suckers game, absorbing costs that your employer should be absorbing.

        Next week, bring a bucket. Other companies don't have toilets, so you can take your bucket with you. You pay for the bucket, the company save on toilet cleaning costs, you get to shit in a bucket - BONUS!

        1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

          Re: Why is it only IT personnel that has to go to these lengths?

          "ALL get saddled with idiots (arguably what is actually happening in the industry now anyway)."

          There you go.

  30. Just a geek
    Thumb Up

    having a home test lab is a great idea and a necessary expensive IMO. However, it would help if the vendors made 'it lab' license versions available otherwise you've either got trailware or borrowed licence keys.

    Another thing vendors could do to help is to allow IT folk access to some of the simulators they have. Both Netapp and VNX have simulators but you already have to have a support contract which strikes me as slightly crazy.

  31. Joe Harrison Silver badge

    A great idea and everyone should do it

    It's unfair to restrict "train yourself at home on the cheap" only to IT people - everyone should do it. For example airline pilots don't need all that formal training they can run flight simulator after the kids have gone to bed. And brain surgeons could have a rack of little bubbling tanks in the garage containing squidgy grey things. I would still feel completely safe taking my brain on their planes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A great idea and everyone should do it

      At my last company we used NetApp, and I looked into getting the NetApp simulator. It was such a pain in the arse to do that in my home lab, I just used open-source IET. Of course, now I don't feel myself in a position to recommend the purchase of NetApp kit to anyone, so they shot themselves in the foot there.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hark at all the permies posting how its a work responsibility :-)

    Long term contractor, owner of a fully populated 47u server, with network aware ups, terminal server, kvm with remote links and a raft of servers, each running different flavours of unix natively. And I enjoy technology, so a chance to play with stuff and learn out of hours is great. I don't expect clients to fund that. Maybe that's why we stay relevant and sharper to get brought in to firefight when the projects go off the rails. Maybe I should just treat it as a 9-5 and have no interest in it outside strict work requirements, but in my opinion that attitude is the cancer and rot that see's corporate projects throw money down the drain trying to get even simple things to work.

    I love this article, Im going to print it off and shove it in front of my accountant when he complains about the level of power and equipment costs my home office seems to have!

    Posting anon because I'll be working with some of you in future, and best keep professional relationships professional.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You're self employed.

      So your employer is sorting out your training for you.

    2. John Sanders
      Linux

      Contractors and learning at home

      "Maybe that's why we stay relevant and sharper to get brought in to firefight when the projects go off the rails. Maybe I should just treat it as a 9-5 and have no interest in it outside strict work requirements, but in my opinion that attitude is the cancer and rot that see's corporate projects throw money down the drain trying to get even simple things to work."

      My experience is different, contractors are neither infallible, neither the most knowledgeable about all subjects.

      In most of places that I have been, most the time something has gone off the rails in a project, the permanent staff was well aware of the shortcomings, and some times it was the contractors who screwed up all.

      For a contractor is quite easy to stay relevant if A) They concentrate in a few single areas of expertise, and B) They do not have a million other things to do like chase people all the time to figure out what is what they want.

      Usually contractors are hired for a purpose and let to work on that purpose. Permanent staff has other burdens, one of the the internal politics of the company, something the contractors do not have to endure most of the time.

      Home training is not always possible, I would like to see how someone can get home training on SANs/NAs/Load Balancer and other pieces of high-end hardware equipment. At least in my case I do not see how I can justify to have a 10 grand load balancer under my bed. Software on the other hand is not an issue, there are always nice trial versions of mostly anything, and anything that doesn't have a free 30 day trial is not worth it to learn.

      Learning while at work?, hell yes! We'll all benefit from it, me my colleagues and my employer!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Contractors and learning at home

        Amongst those unix boxes is some cisco's, a PIX and a LTO drive with carousel mechanism, a ace and other things. Sorry I didn't list them explicitly. Occasionally I run out of space and pull stuff out and keep it on some dexion racking nearby not powered up too. You don't have to have this years model to pull one apart and understand the basic principles. And you don't have to buy gold level support for the kit to tinker with it in your lab. Go on ebay and you'll find people selling cisco kit bundled together as a lab to prepare for CCNA or the like on. They've already cottoned on that its a great thing to do if you can. A lot of people with CCNA or some junos qualification have found it better having some kit to tinker with rather than going on some day training course sponsored by their employers and shut off at 5pm. Maybe its because theyre interested enough to go the extra mile and do that.

        Yes we're specialists, and we get that way by knowing our way around our speciality and doing stupid things and practise recovering from them. You can't do that (twice) in a production environment. We get dragged into internal politics all the time but I sidestep them and point out theres no relevancy to including me in kingdom building as I'll be gone when my contract is up.

        Its not under my bed. I sourced and purchased a property with outbuildings, so it lives in a dedicated server room, and I administer it remotely as far as possible (because its damn cold in there, just like a server room should be). Just like I'd do in real life. I know of other long term contractors with their own lab setup too. Pretty much everyone I know has at least a few boxen set up in a test environment to try things on.

        I worked one place that we had to decomission some sparcstation 20's (few years ago now as you can imagine) and we had 30 of them sat on my desk. I talked management into writing them off and we sent a mail round "anyone that wants a sparcstation, come and get a free one". Unix literacy in our unix based company went up in the following months, and people would stop me at the cooler and ask me odd questions about solaris or linux etc. And I took time to answer them, because I was impressed they were making the effort to learn on their own backs.

        Learning at work? hell yes! Learning at home? hell yes too!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Contractors and learning at home >anon @13:54

          "Yes we're specialists, and we get that way by knowing our way around our speciality and doing stupid things and practise recovering from them. You can't do that (twice) in a production environment."

          This has been my motto since 1988.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: and best keep professional relationships professional.

      Hmm, condescension and a superiority complex are not particularly professional.

      It's so rare to meet a contractor who doesn't think they are "better" than permanent staff because of how they choose to work. Assuming the only reason anyone in IT isn't contracting is because they are not good enough. And yet if you toss aside all the latest industry buzzwords in reality contractors are just programmers like the rest of us. Pompous, money focused engineers, but engineers nonetheless. I've certainly yet to meet one who's as good as they think they are. Plenty of good ones, but none as super special as they like to imagine...

      Posted anonymously because you did.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: re: and best keep professional relationships professional.

        I have no contractor complex. I respect the permanent staff I work alongside who I see as being professional and willing to learn, and some of them are *STUNNING* technically, and some of them are f*****t's the same as contractors. Its just easier to hire then not renew us when we dont cut the mustard.

        What my pop was at, was the people who think they can just work 9-5 in a subject which it appears they have no actual interest in, nor desire to stay relevant, who are then posting here saying that everybody should approach training with the same lackadasical attitude. It's not operating a machine with push button's in a sequence repeatedly all day long. You have to have some craftsmanship and pride in your work, and learning is part of that desire to deliver good quality.

        1. Rocket_Rabbit
          Pint

          Re: re: and best keep professional relationships professional.

          I don't know about you, but there are only so many sweets you can eat before you become sick.

          I love IT and left a decent job as an Aircraft Engineer to go back to university for three years, get a Computer related degree, and start from the bottom again.

          However, after doing 8-9 hours of it a day, the last thing I want to do when I get home is more IT. If people can stomach that, all the best to them, but knowing this is why I allow my staff, workload depending, 3-4 hours a week to self study towards certifications.

          This is a massive win/win. They appreciate that I take an interest in their development (Which I do) and their greater skillset allows me to get more done in a shorter time.

          When they leave work they can relax and go the gym, watch TV, enjoy time with their other half and come back into work feeling refreshed.

          I'll drink to that, after work because I'm enjoying my own time.

        2. GrumpyJoe
          FAIL

          Re: re: and best keep professional relationships professional.

          You get paid more than permies - THAT is your training budget. So permies get less than you AND have to absorb the cost of training - get it?

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: re: and best keep professional relationships professional.

            >You get paid more than permies

            I suggest you put your current salary through a contracting calculator, it might surprise you just how much you will need to charge as your normal day rate, just to stand still.

      2. feanor

        Re: re: and best keep professional relationships professional.

        "It's so rare to meet a contractor who doesn't think they are "better" than permanent staff because of how they choose to work."

        I'm a contractor. I've got to say though that a greater proportion of the contractors that I meet are shite than the permies. They bullshit their way into contracts and by the time everyone realises they're shite they've got 3 months money in their pocket.

        IT and Networking has a high proportion of busllshit merchants.

    4. hplasm Silver badge
      Devil

      First rule of Contracting

      All Work Time Is Chargeable. No Exceptions.

      You seem to have slipped a bit there... careful, you might end up a Permy.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I run multiple flavours of Unix and Windows on Hyper V - fully clustered - and it takes 2U of space for both servers with built in ILO terminal servers, and 2U for the shared storage, and 3U for the UPS....Typical of the UNIX world to want another 40U to do the same thing...

  33. sabroni Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I am so lucky.

    My boss regularly expects me to use new technology, and only supplies books not training courses to get me up to speed. But then, being given something to actually do with new tech. is massively more useful than a course.

  34. Bill Gould
    Meh

    When I pay for training and exams out of pocket...

    ... I'm polishing my skill set to find another job. Employers should watch for the tech worker that's ramping their desirability to competitors, all on their own time and out of pocket. That's a sign that the employee is not content, or that they want the training, and they're ready to move on and leave you hanging.

  35. Fiddler on the roof

    Permies v Contractors

    What a deliciously silly debate to have. I'm better because I'm me! No I'm better because I'm me. ROFL

  36. Christian Berger Silver badge

    The truth is somewhere in the middle

    I don't think an employee should have to spend hundreds of pounds just to please its employer.

    However I think that if you are working in a technical field, you should be informed about it. I believe a system administrator should run his own mail server. That's just common sense.

    You don't necessarily do it for your job, but because you like to. For example I also run my own Stratum 1 NTP server, not because I'd need it on the job, but because I'd like to have the precise time. I find it cool that the computer which does my video recordings knows the time with an uncertainty of a microsecond. It's something I care about.

    And this is what I would expect of an employee, to care about what they do.

  37. Corborg

    Make lemonade

    I've felt the pain of trying to get training out of a multi billion pound company, and having it denied. When your employer isn't willing to invest in you, it's time to face facts and take it into your own hands.

    With a fairly modern PC, HyperV (or virtual box, VMWare etc), some patience and some good material there is nothing you can't achieve that you couldn't in a training room.

    I find trainsignal and CBT nuggets video training is great combined with a book usually cracks it.

  38. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Happy

    Tech couples are worst of all!

    They do exist! The rare coupling of a geek and a geekess, they probably met in a hosting center or vendor expo and now share a house packed to the rafters with tech kit they have squirreled away. I know a pair that have a three-bed house, of which the garage, loft and two bedrooms are full of rescued servers, storage arrays, etc., etc. Their spare time is spent mostly getting the stuff to work again, maybe hosting websites for charities and friends, and teaching themselves new tech. If you find one of these odd pairings and get the chance to employ one of them DO SO IMMEDIATELY! Seriously, they have a stable home environment, the spouse won't moan if they take work home, and not only will they train themselves, they are so proud of their "wired" house and will invite other staff to come learn on their kit! They will see any out-of-hours project as a challenge and will do extra work for the chance of getting their hands on a piece of kit the business is scrapping. You can even get the free assistance of the other half of the couple when one of them has a particularly "interesting" project. Helps if you offer to pay for the odd team BBQ or charity event at theirs.

    And, no, it's probably getting on for a few years since a company paid for me to go on a proper training course on anything, but HR have spent money on team building events and other complete wastes of money.

  39. Mark Leaver
    Thumb Up

    hmmm

    I'm a software developer so I dont really need a lab at home. But I play around with network administration and security as a hobby and so I usually have 5-6 boxes floating about in the house acting as servers. Usually when I upgrade hardware in my main desktop, I will get a cheap case and migrate the old hardware into that and use that as the base for a new server.

    I need to get myself some commercial grade networking kit so I can start playing around with Cisco gear and getting my skills up in those areas.

    For me, the home lab is a nice to have but isnt essential to my career moves.

  40. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

    I'm going to laugh at all of you....

    ... in a mocking sarcastic tone.

    And I'm going to do it from my desk here in France, where my right to go to training courses (paid for by the company) is protected by law. All employees working in France are entitled by law to a certain (useful) amount of job-related training each year - it is called the DIF, "droit individuel de formation" / "individual right to training".

    For people wanting to make radical changes to their career, there is also the CIF (congé individuel de formation, "individual training break") in which the employee requests (paid) time off work to go to training etc. There are statutory guarantees about how this works, mostly but not exclusively to protect the employee, and the company does not normally have to bear the entire cost of maintaining the employee's salary during the training period. By "radical" I mean that I could, for example, take a CIF from my job as a developer in order to train to be a hairdresser. That sort of radical.

    1. sabroni Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: I'm going to laugh at all of you....

      COMMUNIST!!!!!!

  41. Jon Green
    Go

    True...-ish

    I agree that IT specialists (everything from sysadmins to developers) should be using and extending their skills at home - but that doesn't mean having to go to the expense of buying lots of kit. You can repeatedly set up and trash virtual servers on Amazon Web Services for pennies. Many commonly-used packages and OS variants are hireable by the hour through Amazon Marketplace. It's a heck of a lot quicker, easier and cheaper than buying software and hardware, and fiddling with CD-ROMs all evening! If you want, you can create an entire VPNed machine room, and tear it down an hour later.

    If you do want to play on your own kit, you can use Microsoft TechNet (less than £200/yr) to supply lots of licences for most non-developer software MS produces, including Windows and Office; plenty to try out all you need. And of course, non-commercial Linux packages are free (once you've borne the download costs, if any), which makes tinkering very attractive.

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Re: True...-ish

      Well seriously, there's also a lot of time you would want to have yourself. For example NTP servers so you know the approximate time of day. Those are fun to play around with.

      Then of course a mail server so you can send and receive e-mail. (useful feature for job applications as some more modern companies take them this way)

      Then you may want to have a way of watching and recording television. This typically means setting up a VDR system on Linux as well as some storage. Granted you won't have a SAN for that at home, but a simple RAID and LVM as well as NFS isn't atypical here.

      At university I had both my computer at home and in the dormitory. So I did need some form of replication and batch file transfer.

      Those are all little things you'd do anyhow if you are into computing and/or engineering. Again that has nothing to do with money. Even though I can now afford having large RAIDs my previous VDR installations ran on fairly cheap systems. (consumer crap) Granted for many years I ran my mail server from a local box. First on an ISDN line, then a DSL one. This doesn't add any additional cost.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "But accessing that infrastructure from home is not easy."

    What bollocks is this?

    Remote access is a piece of piss.

    1. decadent1

      Re: "But accessing that infrastructure from home is not easy."

      It is if you own the infrastructure. Not when it's behind a firewall managed by a separate IT department. Which most schools are.

  43. Sarev
    Stop

    Good plan

    Most of us can barely afford to pay our heating bills, but yes, let's all change employer perceptions that it's OK to offload equipment and training expenses onto the employees.

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Re: Good plan

      Having your own computer will greatly reduce your heating bills. :)

  44. Herby Silver badge

    Access to the "home lab"

    Look, this is easy. There are lots of dynamic DNS providers, and just about every firewall-nat-router box has provisions to do the update automatically. Once that is done, your nice "home" machines are accessible from the world (+dog), and you go from there. Of course, they have a variant of *nix, and opening up an SSH connection is quite easy. Once you are "inside" access to the other machines and other stuff (connected printers) si quite easy. In one instance I was able to do remote printing so my wife could pick up the information I had on my desk at work.

    All of this goes without saying: What IT guy DOESN'T have a home system (and connectivity) that he uses "after hours" to do something work related.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Opposite position here

    My company is really good at providing training, so my position is actually the opposite. My home setup is a place where I try to reflect the best practice I have picked up from work / training.

    My stuff at home (e.g. photos, etc) is more important than work stuff, so it makes sense to try to put in place a high quality backup regime. Virtualisation is another area where I run virtual servers at home, but they are to do what I need at home in a high quality way, rather than for learning.

  46. veti Silver badge
    Stop

    Have you been reading The Onion again?

    "Vendor says people need his company's kit. Film at 11."

    What's next: "Tim Cook says get the girlfriend an iPhone, so she's got someone to talk to while you're in the home lab"?

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't mind the odd bit of work related self training

    In my own time, at home. When I've done it myself, it has been done without any expectations placed on me, realistic or otherwise. Furthermore, it means I get to decide how, and to what extent the employer benefits from what I've learned, and anything I do to document what I've been doing for future reference belongs to me in the first instance.

  48. rictay

    Freelances have been doing this for decades

    I worked for decades as a contractor through agencies, or as an independent freelancer, and I can't remember a time when I didn't do my own training. As new tools came along I'd buy my own, or book my own training courses, or risk falling behind others in my market. Those who relied on clients to train them soon fell away.

    My 80% success rate in interviews these last 30 years is testament to training yourself in technologies the clients, or employers, are going to demand.

    The current fuss must be because 'permies' are now in the same situation and have started moaning about having to do it themselves instead of having their employers do it for them.

  49. Mephistro Silver badge
    Coat

    "WHY YOU NEED A HOME LAB"

    This is the best advice I've ever read in ElReg.

    W. White

  50. Chris_Maresca

    AWS anyone?

    Seriously, there are few reasons to have a lot of servers at home, particularly if you are focused on software. Learn how to build, deploy & manage cloud infrastructure - that's high value and you don't need a rack full of servers in your house.

    I used to have a 'home lab' as well, but I've moved on to more modern infrastructure hosted elsewhere....

  51. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge
    Coat

    I agree wholeheartedly. I design anti-tank artillery for the US Army.

    Mine is the Kevlar jacket.

  52. vcdxnz001
    Thumb Up

    Homes Labs Extreme Edition

    I too built a home lab out of necessity. But I wouldn't say that going this extreme was entirely 100% required, but given the work I do I thought it was a justified investment to be able to test and troubleshoot using valid configurations.

    http://longwhiteclouds.com/2011/08/24/my-lab-environment/

    Not a recommendation. Just what I've done.

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