Building Private Cloud – Part I


In this blog post series I’ll show you how to build a Private Cloud for a real company. I’m going to use my xenappblog LLC as an example building a training environment for my Automation Master Class.

Back in 2016 – 2018, I was travelling the world teaching my Automation Master Class with my Portable Data Center For Carry On. I stopped doing the course due to issues with Citrix Hypervisor and limited CPU & Memory resources. Fast forward to today and everybody is doing Virtual Classes due to COVID.

Building a private cloud for my Automation Master Class

Since my students needs direct access to the hypervisor, Azure was not an option, and if it was it would have broken my bank! The reason why people are hosting their websites with hosting providers is because its so cheap and the management tools are awesome. Unfortunately that’s not the case for the public Cloud IMHO.

I’ve been looking into private hosted servers and it works really well running VMware ESXi. My problem is that it cost $97 per month + $104 in setup fees for a Xeon E-2176G Hexa-Core with 64 GB DDR4 ECC and 2 x 960 GB NVMe.

So a Master Class with 5 students per Class running 4 times a year would cost me $4020 which is crazy. Why does people think that Cloud is cheaper?

So I started looking into refurbished servers and colocation to build my private cloud. Recently I landed a new automation contract with Twin Networks where the owner Chris had me recommended by Phillip Jones who I’ve met a couple of times at the E2EVC conference.

We agreed to exchange code for hosting so I won’t have any fixed monthly hosting costs. Chris highly recommended UnixSurplus which buy servers, storage and networking equipment that used to run in Amazon Datacenters. After getting in contact with them I purchased 5 of these servers:

  • 1U Supermicro Server X10DRW-iT 4x 3.5″ Bay Server
  • 2x E5-2680 V3 – 2.5Ghz 12 Core
  • 128 GB RAM
  • 1x 1 TB SSD NVME on PCI-E Card
  • 1x 960 GB SSD Samsung 2.5″ SSD PM853T MZ-7GE9600
  • Dual 10 GbE Ethernet Onboard
  • Dual Power Supply
  • IPMI
  • Rail kit
  • $1394 each

The order is on its way, so stay tuned for the next post where the systems will be racked and ESXi will be installed on the Servers hosted in New York through IPMI from Brazil.


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2 thoughts on “Building Private Cloud – Part I”

  1. I’m 100% on board with your premise however it should be noted you DO have the unique advantage of having someone colocate these servers for free. Most of us don’t.

    Thinking of a supercheap colocation scenario – e.g., a cabinet at Hurricane Electric – that would still be around $500/month which puts you way over what it would cost to rent a bunch of dedicated servers with ESXi on them. At this point your proposition doesn’t make sense for a lot of folks unless they have the scale to justify it.

    OVH, for example, has 64GB single Xeon CPUs (6c/12t) and either 2x2TB or 2x800GB SSD servers for $55-$65/mo. Assuming your math is $201 a shot (97+104) * 5 * 4 then with a $60-ish server + $30 setup your math is $90 * 5 * 4 which is $1800. Maybe these servers don’t have the juice you’re looking for but they should able to run several VMs simultaneously. And you don’t need to own the physical gear and likely dispose of/ sell it at some point in the future.

    And not shilling for OVH in particular. Hetzner and others should have similar deals.

    I’m as skeptical of “the cloud” as much as the next guy – I was working for a tiny startup that was dropping $7-8K/mo on AWS and I could have very easily put their entire operation on one dedicated server for $150-$200/mo., tops – but there is more than one way to skin a cat on the physical dedicated server side.



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