Ravello nested virtualization brings ESXi to AWS, Google cloud

Ravello’s nested virtualization has expanded to VMware environments, allowing customers to use ESXi in AWS and Google Cloud Platform.

Ravello Technologies has expanded its nested virtualization capabilities to VMware customers who want to bring those environments to AWS and other public clouds.

Ravello, based in Palo Alto, Calif., has put its new product Inception in beta to run VMware’s ESXi hypervisor on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform. The vendor is targeting its nested virtualization for multi-node ESXi lab environments testing, training, demos, proof of concept and evaluations.

Scalar Decisions, Inc., an IT services and training company based in Toronto, has used Ravello for a year. The majority of infrastructure integration is tied into ESXi and the VMware environment, so the company was limited in how it could utilize Ravello until now, said Shea Stewart, Scalar infrastructure and cloud architect.

Ravello already has nesting capabilities with KVM that allowed it to mimic workloads on AWS or Google Cloud Platform. The company is working on similar capabilities for Microsoft Azure, according to Ravello.

Scalar operates two lab environments, but there is a finite amount of infrastructure for customers to utilize. Being able to take a blueprint and snapshot their own environment is huge for training Scalar’s internal team and for providing a testing platform for customers, Stewart said.

Scalar isn’t recommending it as a performance tool or for production workloads, but it’s certainly an option for rapid testing and other uses, Stewart said.

'VMware is the biggest hypervisor owner in the market, so it’s pretty awesome we can run it in any public cloud'
Shea Stewartinfrastructure and cloud architect, Scalar Decisions

"VMware is the biggest hypervisor owner in the market, so it’s pretty awesome we can run it in any public cloud," Stewart said.

Nesting has been around for years, but hasn’t exactly taken off. It’s easily accessible to VMware customers since vSphere 4, but it has been limited to VMware environments and can require special networking and hypervisor configuration changes, said Edward Haletky, CEO and principal analyst with The Virtualization Practice, LLC, in Austin. Being able to extend to AWS and other big public clouds is ideal for customers who do traveling demos and show product functionality but want to avoid the cost and hassle of bringing the hardware needed to set it up.

"This is a life saver when it comes to things like that," Haletky said.

There is some sacrifice in performance, so there are limits to the uses, Haletky said. But by taking advantage of the cloud and the potential cost savings of pay-as-you-go, as well as eliminating the need for special configurations, the product makes sense for rapid prototypes, development and testing, and technical marketing, he said.

It could also find uses in security testing with controlled environments and in certain edge cases, including disaster recovery, Haletky said.

Pricing starts at $0.14 per hour for two vCPU’s, and the primary focus for Ravello is on enterprises that own data centers and on-premises applications but are expanding to cloud. The vendor expects the number of uses to expand as people become familiar with the technology, according to Rami Tamir, co-founder and CEO.

"It’s sort of using your own data center but extending to endless capacity using the public cloud pattern," Tamir said.

Ravello's tool isn't the only way to port VMware VMs to other clouds. AWS Management Portal for vCenter allows IT to migrate VMware VMs to Amazon EC2 and manage AWS resources from within vCenter.

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