Ravello Systems: a very good replacement for home labs, almost.

As a vExpert I have been privileged to have the use of Ravello Systems, https://www.ravellosystems.com/.  For those not familiar with it, basically they front end AWS and Google Cloud Platform enabling you to run most modern operating systems with a simple interface, including VMware vSphere.

As a technologist, I always have a number of projects going.  I am a hands on type of person, and I like to understand how things work by building and breaking them.  This normally happens on various lab equipment I purchase, or inherit, which works for the most part, although it is an expensive hobby.

Ravello Systems was intriguing beyond AWS or Google Cloud mainly because of their simple interface, blueprint based approach, and the ease of spinning up a quick vSphere lab, or even some random things that I needed to test such as a Vyatta based firewall, don’t ask.  The most time consuming part of creating a system was simply the time it took to upload ISO’s if I needed something custom.  The price for what I do is pretty reasonable, when you consider the cost of the infrastructure, and the time I am actually running things in the lab.

Of course no system is perfect.  My biggest issue was the inability to run a VMware vCenter 6 Appliance in their cloud.  I tried a number of hacks, but the only thing that worked was running it nested, which was just too slow for what I needed.  I also struggled with some security concerns, not their issue, my own concerns when I debated testing my Unifi controller for my home wifi as a cloud service.

One of my favorite uses was digging deeper into docker.  While I can deploy containers as VM’s in Fusion on my laptop, it seemed more logical to run some tests that were actually in the cloud.  Impressively simple again, and reasonable responsive since they were running as nested systems.

Going forward, the future of not just labs, but many production applications is likely spread across multiple cloud service providers and probably some internal systems.  For my purposes this model works quite well.  I appreciate this service from Ravello Systems, and I would suggest that this could make a good home lab replacement if we can just stop hugging our home lab systems.

Ravello Systems: a very good replacement for home labs, almost.

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