I have just released AutoLab version 2.6, which has support for vSphere 6. This is the fastest I’ve released support for a new release of vSphere and it was made possible in part by VMware finally making automated vCenter installation easy and partly by the support of Ravello. The documentation for automating the installation vCenter on Windows is in this pdf. Essentially you create a JSON file, either by recording an install or by editing examples, and pass that file to the installer. Another nice feature is that the installer does a pre-flight check and if the check fails it leaves a log of the fatal error. This error log helped me identify a fault in the DC build that was preventing vCenter installing.
Since vSphere 6 doubles the minimum RAM required for AutoLab, compared to vSphere 5.0, you may not be able to reuse your existing lab host. This is where Ravello can be really helpful. You can use their platform to deploy AutoLab on top of public cloud from either Amazon or Google. Rather than buying an AutoLab host you can rent one from Ravello. You still get all the rebuildability of AutoLab, but you need only pay for the resources while you are running AutoLab. In my tests it was costing under $3 per hour to run an AutoLab, if you only need a few hundred hours of AutoLab this is going to be a great option. Also if you need to scale up your AutoLab for a while you can simply pay for the extra resources while you need it, scaling back when the need is over. The final Ravello benefit may be unique to me, I often want to run multiple AutoLab instances and find I don’t have enough hardware, so again renting the cloud hardware for the duration of the project is a great option.
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