Can I remove the Mac Mini from the house?

This is project to see if Google Cloud Platform could remove my Mac Mini server from my attic. That computer is coming to end of it’s life and needs to be replaced. It serves a few purposes:

  1. Host video files and share them to the Apple TV
  2. Run Plex to allow my brother in another country to view those same videos.
  3. VPN – allowing me to tunnel back in to the house when away from it
  4. Parallels running a virtual machine of ubuntu to run 3CX to allow VOIP telephony within the house.
  5. Unifi Controller

In theory all of these are possible in Cloud, or maybe could be given to Raspberry PI’s if that makes more sense financially.

Performance is factor and I’ll be taking advantage of the free tier in cloud computing services to test this out before committing to a solution.

Storage

First thing to thing about is where will I host videos. I don’t have many. I’ve acquired some over my life. In all about 1TB. Nothing massive. Everything else we watch these days is purchased or streamed through the many services we are subscribed to. They are currently on the second HD within the Mac Mini and backed up to one of the Time Capsules.

Power

How much performance will I need to stream this? My current Mac Mini is the 2012 server edition, it has a quad core 2.3ghz i7 processor and I’ve upgraded the ram to 8GB. It is fine locally and due to having 20Mb upload will direct stream the content on most internet connection remotely. When it does has a remote connection that is slow I haven’t noticed a major problem while it is transcoding.

Google Cloud Platform has a range of virtual computers called instances that you can spin up in various regions. You can define how any processors and how much ram and as you increase the cost to run this machine increases.

VPN

Sometimes when I’m away from the house I need to get back in to make changes to various systems. I have a VNC setup on Mac mini which is super useful but I rarely use that. I’ve found it more useful to use hide my location when travelling. When I want to watch iPlayer when abroad I can route all my traffic through my house in the UK.

My brother lives abroad and also benefits from this. There is also the in-laws house that tunnels in so I can administer the network.

Unifi

This controller manages the Access Points within the house. They are all setup these days so there isn’t much to change or tinker with. Last time I checked it had an uptime of 183 days. These devices are solid, I recommend them to all my friends that are willing to listen. Currently I have a AC-Pro running the main parts fo the house, located within the between the ceiling and floorboards in the Dining room, and another AP-lite in the attic for our Bedroom. There are a few networks with various features running , including WPA-enterprise because why not!

3CX

This is a new project that has be simmering away for awhile. I acquired a phone number through sipgate and wanted to be able to remove the phone line from the house. Currently this rings through to an App on my phone but I’d like to install a DECT phone system. Seems to require very little power. I’d like to use a Raspberry Pi for this.

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