I’m currently in the process of getting my lab environment in place so I’ve got a safe (and secure) place to test all of my projects and thoughts. To assist I’ve been reading Michael Gregg’s “Build your own security lab“, it is a good resource and comes with some good tools (like a trial of Core Impact). However, it may not provide too much you didn’t already know if you’ve got some experience in the field.
For hardware I picked up an HP Proliant ML110 from Ebuyer at a great rate. I’ve since upgraded the RAM to 5GB (will max it to 8gig as needed and finances allow), this has become a great virtualised server running VMWare ESXi.
Going forward I intend to add in a Cisco switch (probably 2960) to segregate my lab network from my home net, whilst still mixing physical hardware with virtual.