What are you doing with nested virtualization?

Nested virtualization is amazingly popular with VMware enthusiasts everywhere — especially judging by the continual flow of traffic to VCritical pages on the topic.  Without this capability it would be quite expensive and complicated to set up sophisticated vSphere cloud infrastructures for learning and experimenting.

I’ve had some conversations recently with VMware R&D around nested virtualization use cases — there is some interest in understanding what customers are doing with virtual vSphere environments.  The obvious use case is to experiment with larger clusters and features designed to support them, such as the Distributed Switch.

What uses have you found for virtualized VMware ESXi hypervisor hosts?  VCP exam prep?  Architecture validation? Tinkering at home?  VMware ISV partner development environment?  Would greatly appreciate you sharing in the comments below.

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  1. Kendrick Coleman’s avatar

    i use it for a segregated vCloud Director environment… it’s been priceless.

  2. JR’s avatar

    I’m using a nested environment right now for VCP5 revision.

  3. Loren’s avatar

    I use it for functional testing of site-to-site failover designs, with SRM and the Uber-VSAs.

  4. Paul Grevink’s avatar

    I use it for testing Autodeployment and having ESX server before vSphere 5.

  5. dale scriven’s avatar

    I use mine for pretty much everything, I’ve used it to pass my VCP5 and now I’m using it to lab SRM and test other products. I’ve found it a much more flexible approach to studying/testing than using physicals and can create far more complex networking scenario’s than my wife would allow if I still used physical boxes 🙂

    1. Eric Gray’s avatar

      Ha ha. Take-away: “Nested virtualization improves marriage quality.”

    2. Dave Convery’s avatar

      Screenshots / documentation
      script testing
      learning / studying
      playing with new software

    3. Marco’s avatar

      Well, I don’t know how to tell…but – please don’t hit me – I even used it once for setting up a vitualized Hyper-Crap – pardon Hyper-V – host. Of course just to see what features others do not have 🙂

      1. Eric Gray’s avatar

        Your secret is safe.

      2. LH’s avatar

        Created a production nested VDI cluster. Worked fine until the RARP was to much for the physical switch (learning new MACs) and network storm pursued… The nested environment was configured after VMware recommendations. Cluster was then moved to new hardware.
        This was really a network hardware fault, just need to get better routers. 🙂

        1. Eric Gray’s avatar

          Interesting. By “production” are you referring to the architecture – as in a POC? Not actual users on nested VDI VMs, right?

          1. LH’s avatar

            This is a public VMware View Cloud Cluster with live VMs with users logged on. And with really acceptable performance I must admit. (better performance on physical but still…)
            Storage side is using IBM v7000 – nested was using Shared VMDK’s in independent mode to allow clustered storage. Considered NPIV – never got to it – was plan B if performance dropped.

          2. LH’s avatar

            On a side note: This was not a large environment – 50 VM’s max at that time 🙂

            1. Eric Gray’s avatar

              Thanks for clarifying. What drove the nested use case?

              1. LH’s avatar

                What made me use this was VMware View inability to use the same cluster(same vCenter) with multiple domains that can not have a trust between them. View will need to support ADFS to make it a good DaaS product.

              2. Greg Stuart’s avatar

                I use nested virtualization for VCP5 exam prep, and also to tinker with some of the newer features in vSphere5. What I like most is that it doesn’t take up any more space, power or cooling in my home. My PC has 16GB RAM, working on upgrading it to 32GB, so that I can build a nice little nested lab.

              3. Bjørn’s avatar

                I use it for demonstrations when teaching VMware courses. I run a lot of different nested labs in VMware workstation 8.
                Using nested technology I am able to demonstrate all vSphere functions on my laptop. Including autodeploy and the Vsphere Storage Appliance.
                I also teach Microsoft Hyper-V courses and have been able to run the entire Hyper-V course on my laptop (it normally requires two physical servers).

              4. Hugo’s avatar

                I use it to run Openstack, Cloudstack clusters with Nexenta VMs for Storage and running XCP and Xenserver as nested Hypervisors. Also have tried Hyper-V as nested Hypervisor.

              5. Doug Youd’s avatar

                I’m using nested ESXi as a Replication Target for Veeam. Effectively this gets around the single-tenant nature of Veeam.

                It forms part of a Multi-Tenant DRaaS offering: Replication from a customer’s on-premise VMware infrastructure to ‘the cloud’ aka vmware cloud provider….

                Putting together a blog post about it currently if anyone’s interested.

                1. Doug Youd’s avatar

                  Here’s the link to the article on what I’ve used it for…

                  1. Eric Gray’s avatar

                    Whoa, that is amazing. Thanks for sharing.


                  2. Navin R. Thadani’s avatar

                    Eric … Its been a while! Hope all is well. This post is closely related to my new gig. Its called Ravello Systems http://www.ravellosystems.com. We have developed some technology that we are very proud of and are offering a completely free beta. Its essentially a high performance nested hypervisor (we call it HVX) along with an IO overlay (SDN). It allows you to take a multi-VM application running on VMware (or KVM) in a datacenter and run it unmodified on AWS/Rackspace/HP Cloud – on both PV and HVM VMs. So you can simple upload your vmdk/vmx and deploy. Thats it. (and its offered as a SaaS).

                    Any of your readers willing to give it a shot and provide some feedback?

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