Monday, February 16, 2015

Running a nested ESXi lab on vCloud Air OnDemand

People looked at me like I was crazy when I said I wanted to run ESXi nested in vCloud Air OnDemand. Everyones first question was why? I have some specific use cases where I need to test integrations between layers of a VMware based Cloud Management Platform and push the scalability beyond what I could run in my lab. I needed this test platform to be long lived (which ruled out using EMC vLab), but I didn't need it to be powered up all the time. Combine that variably of demand with the fact that I only have 96GB of RAM available in my home lab and you have the perfect public cloud use case. The icing on the cake for me is that I can create geographically distributed vCenters to simulate a large F500 enterprise environment.

The catch is that the virtual switches in vCloud Air aren't configured for promiscuous access, so any guest VMs that you run on your nested hosts won't have internet access. Not a problem for me since this will be part of a geographically distributed scaling exercise and I don't need them to do anything.

So, why would anyone else want to run ESXi in vCloud Air OnDemand? Number one reason is a VCP / VCAP lab as a service on vCloud Air.

If you have lab needs beyond the VMware Hands on Labs, but don't have they equipment at home vCloud Air OnDemand could give you a lab with persistence while you prepped for the vCAP-DCA or other lab based exam. When your instances are powered off you only carry the storage costs. You could get by without a public IP simply running a small lab and accessing your Windows based vCenter through the vCloud Air console, removing the public IP reservation removed the majority of the powered off costs.

As a test run I built a small vCenter and two ESXi hosts on vCloud Air on Demand before I build out my larger environment. Deep dive after the break.