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  • April 14, 2015

Nested ESXi on AWS or Google Cloud with Ravello: Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Why would I want to run VMware ESXi on AWS or Google cloud?

A1: VMware technology partners, resellers and customers need infrastructure lab environments for development and testing, sales demos, PoCs, and training. The public cloud is ideal for these kinds of workloads. Now, with Ravello, the VMware ecosystem can run customized ESXi™ infrastructure labs in AWS or Google cloud on demand. Read more about specific nested ESXi use-cases here.

Q2: Why can I not run ESXi on AWS or Google cloud natively? Why do I need Ravello?

A2: VMware ESXi is designed to run on physical servers that have CPUs with Intel VT or AMD-V virtualization extensions. AWS and Google clouds offer VMs - not physical hardware - and these VMs do not have virtualization extensions. Hence it is impossible to run ESXi on AWS or Google cloud.

Ravello’s HVX technology that runs on top of AWS and Google implements Intel VT/ AMD-V in software making the cloud look like real hardware capable of running ESXi. For more information, please read the technology overview about ESXi and nested virtualization.

Q3: Can I run VMware VMs on AWS or Google with Ravello without needing ESXi?

A3: Yes. Ravello HVX exposes VMware devices to the VMs running on top. Hence, enterprises can run their VMware VMs on AWS or Google cloud. For example, if an enterprise has a production SharePoint farm (application) running on VMware ESXi infrastructure in their data center, and they want to create a QA environment for the application in AWS, they can simply upload their VMs to Ravello and deploy their SharePoint farm on AWS for QA. In this case, they do not need ESXi.

Now consider another example. An enterprise has VMware vSphere™ 5.5 infrastructure running in their data center, and they are preparing to upgrade to vSphere 6.0 for which they need ESXi infrastructure test environments to test their upgrade procedure. In this case, the enterprise can create a copy of their ESXi “infrastructure” in AWS using Ravello. Read more about specific nested ESXi use-cases here.

Q4: What about ESXi licenses?

A4: Ravello has a BYOL (Bring Your Own License) policy. Users are responsible for their own ESXi license.

However, please note that if the use-case is around creating a copy of the application environment (the VMs themselves and the networking) in AWS or Google, then there is no ESXi needed, and hence no ESXi licenses needed. Contact us if you have any questions.

Q5: What is the performance like if I run ESXi on Ravello?

A5. When running a VM on ESXi on Ravello on AWS, this is the stack: VM - ESXi - Ravello HVX - Xen - x86 hardware. So the VM is sitting on 3 hypervisors. Most instructions are executed directly on the physical CPU, so CPU performance is good. However, IO does get impacted because of multiple virtualization layers. Hence, while there is a performance overhead involved, it should more than suffice for most lab use-cases involving ESXi infrastructure (demos, training, PoCs, development and testing etc.).

Q6: How much does it cost to run ESXi on AWS with Ravello?

A6. Ravello pricing is completely usage based. There are no up-front fees or per user charges. Pricing starts at $0.14/hr per 2vCPU/4GB chunks. A typical lab setup involving 2 ESXi hosts (4 vCPUs/16 GB RAM), 1 VMware vCenter™ appliance (2 vCPUs, 4 GB RAM) and 1 NFS or iSCSI shared storage appliance (2 vCPUs, 4 GB RAM) would cost $1.43/hr. Learn more on ESXi pricing.

Q7. I need to run a large scale ESXi test lab with complex networking. Can I do that with Ravello?

A7. Yes, definitely. Here is an example of a 250 node ESXi data center environment running on Ravello on AWS - with multiple subnets, VLANs etc. And here is another example of a 32 node ESXi VSAN cluster running on Ravello on AWS including multicast and other advanced L2 networking features. Please contact us so that we can assist you in your deployment.

Q8. I’m interested in trying this out. How do I get started?

A8. Its easy to get started. Just sign up for a free trial here. You don’t need a credit card or existing AWS or Google cloud credentials. After activating your account, follow these steps to set up your environment
Step 1: How to install ESXi on AWS or Google cloud
Step 2: How to set up a vCenter appliance on AWS or Google cloud
Step 3: How to create an ESXi/ vSphere cluster on AWS or Google cloud

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us at support@ravellosystems.com

VMware product names, logos, brands, and other trademarks featured or referred to in the ravellosystems domain are the property of VMware. VMware is not affiliated with Ravello Systems or any of Ravello System's employees or representatives. VMware does not sponsor or endorse the contents, materials, or processes discussed on the site.

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