All Hands on Deck / VMware

201701-01Although VMware is best known for its core virtualization product vSphere, it may not come as a surprise that since their first product releases, a lot has changed. Over the years, on top of this solid foundation, VMware built a “Software Defined Everything” stack (SDDC), a Cloud stack with all the Automation and Orchestration tools, Monitoring tools, an End User Compute environment etc. This has led to a very large number of VMware products.
As you are as curious as I am, product
data sheets and documentation maybe helpful, but the best way in my humble opinion is to download, install and try the bytes yourself.
In addition to options already there, VMware launched a new one; Product Walkthroughs. So time for an overview how to get familiar with these fine products.

Product evaluation

What is it?
Although VMware also offers some Free products, like the vSphere Hypervisor, you will not be able to download most of the licensed products. Fortunately for a number of products you can request for an evaluation. The procedure is simple; register, download the products and license keys. The keys will expire 60 days after registration.

You now have the opportunity to install the products; the condition is that you have sufficient hardware resources. In most cases, the license offers you all possible features. E.g. the evaluation license for vSphere offers you the Enterprise Plus features.

Products available for evaluation:

  • vSphere with Operations Management
  • vSAN
  • Site Recovery Manager
  • Horizon 7
  • Workstation products

Where to Find?
Go to and select the Downloads Section.

Pros and cons:

  • Explore all features at your own pace
  • Documentation available


  • Registration is required
  • Licenses expire after 60 days
  • Need hardware to install products 1)

1) If you do not have hardware available, another option is to use services as offered by companies like Ravello.

Hands-on Labs

What is it?
Although building your own environment for product evaluation is very educational, when it comes to a more complex setup, you may encounter one or more of the following:

  • Installation of various products can take a considerable amount of time
  • Shortage of hardware (especially those of you running a home-lab)
  • Complexity and risk of not building an optimal environment for product evaluation

With Hands-on Labs, VMware has done all the building and configuration of a product suite in the Cloud. Each Hands-on Lab comes as one or more VMs pre-configured and ready to run. With each lab comes a tutorial that will guide you and let you perform actions at your own pace.

How does it work?
First you must register. After registration, you have 60 days to complete a lab. You will need a Browser with Java support. Chrome is not a good choice, Firefox works well, but reported a domain mismatch.

201701-02Fig. 2

In a new window, at your left, one or more consoles will be presented. At your right, you will find a manual. The manual provides an introduction how to use the hands-on lab environment and continues with the actual lab. You can pause the lab at any time and continue at a later moment. Each lab runs for a certain amount of time, which should be sufficient to complete all exercises. You can extend that time (max. 8 times).

201701-03Fig. 3

Where to Find?

Some labs are presented on the product pages. At this time, VMware offers more than 170 Labs on SDDC, Hybrid Cloud, Mobility, Networking etc. For a complete overview, go to


  • Environment is available in minutes
  • No licenses or hardware needed


  • Registration is required
  • Expires after 60 days

Product Walkthroughs

What is it?

Product Walkthroughs are a recent edition and can best be explained as a slide show with additional comments. Product Walkthroughs are grouped in product categories like: vRealize Suite, Virtual SAN, vSphere 6.0 and 6.5, NSX, vCloud Air etc. Each category has one of more subsections, e.g. for vSphere 6.5, like; Host Lifecycle Management, vCenter Server Appliance Migration, vCenter Server, Security etc.

201701-04Fig. 4

Each subsection contains one or more slide shows. References to the Hands-on labs are also frequently found. How does it look like? For instance after selecting vSphere 6.5, see Fig. 5.

201701-05Fig. 5

Where to Find?

Collection can be found on :!/


  • No registration
  • Off-line Mode available


  • Just sit, click and watch the slides

YouTube channel

VMware has multiple YouTube Channels, for an overview see:

One of the most popular channels is the VMwareKB channel, with how-to instructions and other info from VMware Knowledge Base.

And finally, a lot of information regarding products, installation and many, many more can be found on a growing number of VMware related blogs. To get an idea have a look here.

As always, I thank you for reading.





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