I am frequently asked for the best method to learn VMware from people that have little to no experience using VMware products. While there are a lot of great resources available, such as blogs, forums, and online training, one of my favorite ways to learn something new is to use it. This is where the VMUG Advantage comes in.
First, let me just say that the VMUG Advantage subscription is far more than just software. It includes discounts for training, certifications, online labs, and much more. However, let’s focus on the software that you get with the one-year subscription for only $200. The software portion is VMware’s EVALExperience and is for personal use in a non-production environment. Here is a link with additional information, EVALExperience and below is a screenshot of all the software available for download.
From a licensing standpoint for ESXi 6.0, you get VMware vSphere with Operations Management 6 Enterprise Plus Licensed for 6 physical CPUs (unlimited cores per CPU). Depending on how you design your lab, this could be three physical servers with two CPU sockets, six physical servers with one CPU socket, or any other combination to use up all six licenses including nested virtualization. For vRealize Operations Manager, you are limited to 25 VMs, but in most cases this is enough to learn the product. My other favorites are VMware Horizon Advanced Edition, which is great for learning VDI and VMware Virtual SAN.
Personally the only downside to this is the fact that Microsoft did away with their annual TechNet Subscriptions that were great for doing Microsoft labs. On the plus side since this is a virtualized environment, you can easily destroy and create new VMs in a matter of minutes depending on your hardware. Also, there are plenty of tools worth learning that can run on Linux distros. So this is not just for Microsoft users. In fact, one of my favorite tools is AutoLab. Using AutoLab is a great way to learn automation and is now even compatible with VSAN.
For more information about VMUG Advantage, be sure to check out the website, https://www.vmug.com/Advantage.