A month into 2016 and we’re rapidly approaching the announcement of the VMware vExperts for 2016. The benefits of being recognised by this programme have varied over the years (and as the numbers have increased, the ‘freebies’ have inevitably gradually dwindled), but one of the things I have found most useful is the free use of Ravello Labs for running nested ESXi. See here for more details about what is on offer.
Being able to spin up a personalised lab environment for testing has meant that I’ve not run a home lab nested on my laptop all year – in fact I’m not sure I could actually run one on it these days with the increased memory requirements and increasing number of VMs that seem to comprise a modern VMware lab. See here for a comparison of Ravello Systems labs against some physical home lab options
There are some limitations of course, the main one is that you can’t easily run the VCSA (there are ways, but it’s a pain to implement), and some other VMware linux based appliances seem to be affected in the same way. There is also a memory size limitation – I think this is 8Gb at the time of writing, but obviously you can add additional ESXi “servers” to your lab to scale out if necessary, and my laptop currently only has 8Gb total…
I still currently use VMware Hands On Labs to get hands on with specific products (NSX, VROPS, VRA), as they are quick to spin up and are generally pre-canned with the product I’m wanting to investigate, but for general VMware ESXi/VCenter work, I’m very impressed with Ravello Labs, and I’d like to say a big thank you to them for this very generous benefit, and please keep it running for 2016!