There are a number of methods for getting access to licenses ideal for homelabs from VMware, varying from free, to a couple of hundred dollars per year, depending on how much cash or effort you want to put in to get them!
As with most software vendors you can install evaluation editions of most VMware software, typically with a 60 day time limit.
Become a VMware vExpert!
"They are the bloggers, book authors, VMUG leaders, speakers, tool builders, community leaders and general enthusiasts. They work as IT admins and architects for VMware customers, they act as trusted advisors and implementors for VMware partners or as independent consultants, and some work for VMware itself. All of them have the passion and enthusiasm for technology and applying technology to solve problems. They have contributed to the success of us all by sharing their knowledge and expertise over their days, nights, and weekends.
vExperts who participate in the program have access to private betas, free licenses, early access briefings, exclusive events, free access to VMworld conference materials online, exclusive vExpert parties at VMworld and other opportunities to interact with VMware product teams. They also get access to a private community and networking opportunities."
Worldwide there are now over 1000 vExperts and the number is growing all the time!
As a member of the vExpert programme, you get access to licenses for almost every VMware product, and even a little vCloud Air credit, all for free! Now this isn't the reason for becoming a vExpert, but it is a really awesome bonus! What better way to start your journey to becoming a vExpert than by taking part in generating useful community content on this site!
Many years ago, VMware used to run a programme called the VMTN subscription, where you paid a small amount of money every year for a broad selection of licenses to be used in non-prod or home environments. It was ideal for homelabs! Unfortunately in around 2007 VMware pulled the programme, so between then and now the only ways to get legal free licenses were either through evaluations or perhaps becoming a member of the vExpert community.
Cue a campaign started by Mike Laverick and supported by many community members, and finally in January 2015 VMware finally came to its senses and reintroduced the package, now renamed to "EVALExperience" and available for $200 per year as part of a VMware VMUG Advantage subscription!
The EVALExperience pack includes:
- VMware vCenter Server Standard for vSphere 6
- VMware vSphere® with Operations Management™ Enterprise Plus
- VMware vCloud Suite® Standard
- VMware vRealize Operations™
- VMware vRealize Log Insight™
- VMware vRealize Operations for Horizon®
- VMware Horizon® Advanced Edition
- VMware Virtual SAN™
For the number of licenses you get and the fact that you can run these 24/7/365 instead of having to rebuild every 60 days, this is a great option. The VMUG subscription also includes a load of other benefits such as discounts on exams and training, so well worth seeing if your employer will even consider allowing you to expense it!