Ravello Systems Review

Recently, I was given access to an account at Ravello Systems (full disclosure: this is a free account given to vExperts) and I thought I’d write about my experience. For those of you that don’t know, it’s a front end for deploying workloads in AWS and was bought by Oracle in 2015.

I’ve had an account with them for a while, but really never needed to utilize it due to having some pretty sweet home lab gear provided by my previous job. However, with me going over to Rubrik in March, I obviously had to return that stuff and I’m not sure if I’m going to purchase new gear on my own. It’s just getting so you don’t need a homelab for a lot of things anymore, and tools like Ravello make that possible.

Well, on to the review. The interface is really nice in that it looks like a standard blueprint and has a lot in common with a Visio or Lucidchart drawing. You add components to the design and on the right pane you can configure their settings.

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The account comes with various pre-configured VMs, like the one shown above which can be used to install ESXi.  I’m building a vSphere farm in that example.  You do have to provide your own software images and licenses, but they can be uploaded easily.  Once that’s done, you simply connect the ISO to the VM and install ESXi normally.  You can also do some cool things with their import tool, like pulling in running VM images from your existing vSphere environments,  sort of like a V2V converter.

The networking options are fairly robust, as well.  You can configure DHCP or static addresses, as well as control which NICs have external access.

Finally, the entire platform has a REST API available, if you want to automate the provisioning or management of your environments here.  This could be really powerful, as it extends the functionality to any scripts or automation tools you might have.

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For a potential homelab / SMB lab use, I think this could be really powerful.  It reduces or eliminates the need to buy gear that will eventually become obsolete (or get taken back by your previous employer!).

Learning Python

So, I’ve decided to start working on my Python skills.  I’ve always been a code borrrower, using others’ scripts and modifying them to fit my own needs. I imagine this describes a lot of you out there.   It’s always easier to edit other work than create something on your own.  Like anything in the Linux world, there are a lot of resources out there, both free and paid.  I found a good subreddit about it here: https://www.reddit.com/r/learnpython/

Based on that, I’ve decided to go through the course at Learn Python the Hard Way.  I like his approach of repetitive lessons.  Also, he stresses using the command line, rather than an IDE.  The initial exercises are really basic, but I’ve been slogging through them and I’ll update here with my progress.