Using Virtual Appliances in your Home Lab

As part of my learning and development processes, I typically have to set up a home lab environment to test out the new technology. I’ve found out that the fastest way to learn something new is to build it yourself. I guess the lessons stick harder.

Most of the lab environments I’ve built are VMware-based. I build nested ESXi hosts as virtual machines in VMware Workstation or Virtualbox (for some reason this does not slow down my host laptop as much). The last lab environment I built was when I was preparing for the VCAP-DCV Deploy exam. I will write about my exam experience in one of my next blogs.

Anyway, when building nested ESXi hosts, I have found a really easy way of cutting down the provisioning time is to use nested ESXi virtual appliances. A virtual appliance is a pre-configured virtual machine image, ready to run on a hypervisor. Or in my case a guest operating system. William Lam has been creating these appliances for years. I think since ESXi 5.5. You can check out his collection here. I’ve found them to be pretty reliable.

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