VMware Home Lab – Ravello

After a long time, I am coming back here and sharing my work, experience, and thoughts with all of you. A year back I started writing blogs about technology but it quickly went under the carpet and couldn’t able to continue the same. I felt that without having my own lab i won’t be able to engage with the community the way i wanted to. So here I am with my off-premise cloud lab.

I was doing a little bit of research to get the best lab setup for my learning and thought about Intel NUC to consider my physical hosts but quickly realized that it won’t be a good idea to have a bunch of physical hosts and dangling cables at my home. I didn’t feel the need for the on-prem lab as it was not offering me any additional benefits. So the only option left for me was to set up my VMware lab on the Public Cloud.

There were mainly 3 reasons for opting out a cloud-based solution.

  • Pay as you Go, the Capital cost of setting up the on-prem home lab was very high for me.

 

  • Scalability, ability to scale up/down compute resources is simply a cakewalk for us, all thanks to virtualization and cloud infrastructure. Scalability by default allows you to optimize your resources and results in an efficient infrastructure, However, that’s not the case with the hardware infrastructure. 

 

  • Hardware refresh, a typical lifecycle of any hardware is around 3-5 years and after that, it requires an upgrade to catch up with the trend. It is certainly not a good idea to have a bunch of hardware (Host, switches, Routers etc.) and periodically upgrading them. you simply can’t afford hardware maintenance cost just to keep your Lab infrastructure running.

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#Ravello

Ravello was a startup founded by few KVM hypervisor developers and after that, it was acquired by Oracle. The unique ability of nested virtualization provided by #ravello allows us to host ESXi as a virtual machine on HVX hypervisor. I guess it is the only cloud provider which is offering nested virtualization thus becoming the only option for hosting VMware home lab on the public cloud. I figured it out about Ravello a few months back but at that time Ravello offering was not available for trial in India. However, the good news is that it’s now available for 30 days trial and has very competitive rates. It provides all the key feature which requires you to get started.

The interesting thing which I liked most about Ravello is, it provides key network services like DNS, DHCP, L2/L3 networking layer, VLAN and firewall services on the fly, Which essentially means that you can save few $$$ by not to deploy additional VM just to use these services for your lab environment.

As of today, I am able to setup 3 ESXi hosts, 1 VCSA 6.5, and a windows server 2016. Able to quickly configure my lab environment with public IPs so that I can seamlessly access all my workloads over the internet as an when required. In fact, I was impressed with the new ESX #H5client which was accessible on my smartphone and giving seamless experience on my mobile phone though it’s not a required thing for production infrastructure.

Take a look at below screenshot of ESXi which was accessed over the internet on a mobile browser.

Lab

The plan is to build this lab environment with different use cases, test vSphere upgrades with different test scenarios, and to build/test cloud-based automation solutions around it. I will keep sharing interesting use cases and “how to” stuff as I go along with this.

Feel free to post your queries, feedback or suggestions on “Virtual Reality” 

Thanks,

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “VMware Home Lab – Ravello

    1. Here is My Review:

      You can give it a try. ravello provides one month of free subsription before you actually go for paid subscription.

      1. Ravello does not support vcsa 6.x and you can only deploy windows vCenter. However you can deploy ESXi host first and then deploy vCenter on to It.
      2. Boot time and updating exiting ravello VM configurations takes a lot time and its quite frustrating. Ensure that you have right configurations of your ravello VMs, prior to Powering it on because a simple power on will take somewhere around 7-10 Minutes.
      3. Cost wise it was good for me. it cost me aroung $1.85/Hour for running 3 Esxi hosts and one Windows VM with (4GB memory and 2 CPU). I used to tweak a lot with the sizing as per my need.

      Conclusion:
      1. ravello is only good for short term lab (I used it for preparing my VCAP), User experience was bit frustrating.
      2. If ravello improves on the boot time and provides Hot add/remove features for Ravello VMs then it can be considered as your long term lab.

      below is one of the issue documented while trying to deploy vcsa 6.5.
      https://communities.vmware.com/thread/588804

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