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  • December 6, 2015

Non-dummies guide to nested ESXi lab on Ravello

Ravello’s nested ESXi offering has been out for quite some time. With more and more users and use cases, and advanced setups created on a regular basis - we wanted to make sure you know where to find guides and tools to help you quickly run your VMware vSphere/ESXi lab on Ravello.

Before you get started: do you really need to install ESXi?

The first thing to do before you get started is make sure you really need to run ESXi in the cloud. VMware applications can, and have been, running successfully natively on Ravello’s HVX right from the start: running SharePoint environments, SAP, .NET and other enterprise applications, and even virtual networking and security appliances usually should be done natively on Ravello. We previously published a blog to help you figure out whether you can run your VMware application on Ravello’s HVX or whether you need to install the ESXi hypervisor. If you need help - feel free to email us with your use case.

Nested ESXi: setting up

If indeed you determined running the hypervisor is required - we’ve provided a few how to guides to set up your basic lab and get going:

  1. Install and configure ESXi on the public cloud: upload ESXi ISO to Ravello, install ESXi, configure ESXi and save your ESXi to your Ravello VM library.
  2. Install and configure VMware vCenter 5.5 server on the public cloud: upload vCenter Server appliance to Ravello, create vCenter VM in Ravello, configure it to run on Ravello, save it to your VM library.
  3. Set up a full VMware datacenter in a public cloud: create a data center, configure ESXi hosts to use NFS, create VMs to run on VMware cluster, set the VMs start and shutdown order, save application blueprint

Advanced set ups: VPNs, NFS, DHCP for 2nd level guest and more

Now that you’ve got your basic setup going, you will probably want to add some more advanced elements to your lab environment. Here are a few step-by-step guides to start with:

  1. Build simple shared storage using an NFS server: simply install and configure your NFS server and save it to your VM library.
  2. Setup DHCP for 2nd level guests running on ESXi: since Ravello is actually unaware of the 2nd level guests running on your ESXi hypervisor, those guests cannot reach Ravello’s DHCP server by default. Here you’ll learn how to define the networking in Ravello and your vSphere environment to support another DHCP server and install and configure your own 2nd level guest DHCP server VM to service the other guests.
  3. Setup a VPN connection to environment running in Ravello from a vanilla pfSense image: step by step to guide you through the scenario where one environment in running in the cloud with Ravello, and another ban be in an on-premise data center, or a in a VPC in AWS. etc.
  4. Build a 250 node VMware vSphere/ESXi lab environment in AWS for testing: this large scale ESXi data center in AWS, which costs less than $250/hr, is a guide useful for enterprises for upgrade testing their VMware vSphere environments of roe new product and feature testing.

Additional VMware products how-tos

  • Install and run VSAN 6.1 environment on AWS or Google Cloud: we created this guide to facilitate testing out new features and showcasing storage management products working with this VSAN release. We walk you through configuring your VSAN environment and saving the setup as a blueprint in your Ravello library. This is very useful, for example, for demo and POC environments that can be provisioned in minutes.
  • Install VMware NSX 6.2: Software defined networking is an essential component of the software defined data-center. While installing NSX on a “normal” platform can be resource-intensive and time consuming, it is valuable as it enable you to virtualize your networking infrastructure. Learn how by provisioning NSX on Ravello, you can install it once, and re-deploy any time, greatly reducing the time required for the setup of a new testing, demo or PoC environment.
  • Install and configure vRealize Automation and test orchestration scripts: A simple deployment to try out vRA, test upgrade scenarios and new features, develop new customizations and more. The setup contains: the vRealize appliance, an identity appliance, an IAAS server, a domain controller and an orchestrator appliance, and as an option - a windows vCenter server and two ESXi hosts to test the deployment of virtual machines.

I hope this brief description of the guides we’ve put together will help you quickly find your way to what you’re looking to run on Ravello. Feel free to comment here with other products you’d like to have guides to, or tell about the setups you’ve build in your lab.

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