I really like the Free vEXPERT Ravello tier to run some quick tests but it has few disadvantages:
- The limited amount of CPU hours.
- The time it takes to upload images, create VMs, blueprints, applications and networks.
- The time it takes to create a new lab environment from scratch can take a lot of hours. The more servers you add to your lab environment, the longer it will take to create it.
But as soon as I had figured out how to create my applications, VMs and blueprints, it was very easy to come up with a plan to deploy new test environments in different regions or to replace my corrupted labs with only a few mouse clicks. The time to deploy a new and immediately accessible lab environment: 20 minutes when you use Hardware Assistance!
Create the first VM
- Upload a Windows or Linux ISO file
- Create a new application and give it a name (in my case it has the name of my AD server)
- Create a single VM in this application using the ISO file ( In my case the Directory Server)
- Use this VM to download all other software you need
- Install the Ravello Import Tool in this VM
- Now you can download ISO files using this VM and upload the ISO files using this VM as well.
- Download all you need and upload it to your Ravello account
- At this point I installed AD, DNS and DHCP and created the accounts and DNS entries for all objects I would always use in each test.
- Shutdown the VM
- Now save this VM to Library
Making a template (blueprint)
At this point you have to decide if you want to use this instance as a template which always will remain the same.
- If you want to use this VM as the way you use a VM template, you have to save the VM you just saved also as a blueprint.
- Do NOT publish this application, but close the application. Et voila, your template (blueprint ) has been created.
- If you want to use the same VM in all your labs, just press publish without saving it to library or blueprint. Then just drag this VM into each new application.
Creating vCenter server and ESXi hosts
- To create all your ESXi hosts and the vCenter server follow exactly the same procedure as I have mentioned above in Create the first VM and Making a template (blueprint)
Creating your lab
- If you want to make sure that none of the VMs you have created will change and you want to make sure that you consistently can deploy the same lab environment without copying the recent changes you have made in your last the deployed lab, you can do as I do:
- Deploy a new application for each VM from the blueprint of each VM, enable Hardware Assistance, then push PUBLISH, but do not start the VM.
- Close these applications as soon as you have created the new VM.
- Create a new application but choose to NOT create it from blueprint.
- Add all the VMs you want to be a part of this lab from the Plus sign
- Once you have done that, save this application as BLUEPRINT and close it (do not start it!). To deploy this pre-configured lab, just deploy it from the blueprint you have just created.
Deploy the lab again and again in different regions
As long as you do not change the VMs you have created for this specific lab, your application blueprint will always roll out the current application in this configuration!
You can use this BLUEPRINT to deploy this lab also in other regions. It will take at max 20 minutes before it is accessible!
The best part it, this also works for Hardware Assisted Nested Virtualization on Ravello. A Hardware assisted lab and is deployed from a Blueprint, takes about 20 minutes before it is accessible no matter what region you deploy that lab in!
When you start up a lab created from a blueprint with hardware assisted VM’s in, the only regions selectable to boot the environment from are the regions where Hardware Assistance is available: