VMUG Advantage just added the latest NSX 6.3.1 and All Flash vSAN 6.6 bits to EVALExperience, great for vSphere home labs, just $200 a year!

Posted by Paul Braren on May 1 2017 (updated on Aug 3 2017) in
  • Virtualization
  • ESXi
  • HomeLab
  • HomeServer
  • VMUGAdvantage
  • 837374379663163393full

    I've been a big fan of the EVALExperience offering from the good folks at the VMware User Group organization for years. It's just one of the many benefits of subscribing to VMUG Advantage, and is worth far more than the $200 it costs online, or $180 at your friendly neighborhood VMUG UserCon, as seen during a recent nearby Connecticut VMUG UserCon. You can save more by subscribing for 3 years.

    You can get your subscription right at a VMUG USERCON

    At a recent VMUG UserCon, I got to talking to Madison Soave there about how very popular my articles about EVALExperence have been, with more than 20,000 readers so far! A great offering for a large chunk of my visitors, those home virtualization lab enthusiasts, making sure to thank her. I'm surprised how often folks still haven't heard of this program. Not having to worry about 60 day time bombs, and being able to re-up your membership to simply get new keys to apply to your existing lab, means rebuilds from scratch are no longer a part of the home lab experience.

    But I also mentioned to her that the vSphere code was still the initial 6.5 release from last November, and that last I checked, the vSAN license key was Hybrid only, for a back-level version. Even though updating VCSA and ESXi have gotten easier, there can still be troubles for some upgraders who may very well be new to vSphere, the folks you least want to scare away. Wouldn't it be best if the latest code was available instead? Shouldn't the new user be spared the need to do more downloads for upgrades or critical patches right after installing?

    What's great is that EVALExperience 6.5.0.d vSphere code is actually 3 months newer than the 6.5.0.a that vSphere evaluators and free hypervisor downloaders currently get!

    All the freshest NSX and vSAN bits are yours


    vSan 6.6 & NSX 6.3.1!

    The recent release of vSAN 6.6, see:

    make this combo a rather powerful statement about how serious VMware is about getting their enterprise code into the hands of dedicated IT Professionals. These are enterprise products, most easily tested in a home lab with lots of RAM. They're also both strategic products for VMware right now, enjoying rapid innovation. For vSAN, be sure you use gear that's on the VCG (vSAN Compatibility Guide), or go with a much more practical nested configuration.

    Your hard earned $


    My previous employer didn't reimbursed for vSphere code or for home lab equipment for years, which is typical these days. I happily bought my subscription to EVALExperience anyway. I found it to be invaluable in my home lab, where I constantly tinker with hardware and software, using both vSphere 6.5 and VMware Workstation. Even though VMware offers an incredible array of Hands-On Labs for free at any time remotely and in person, that I get to enjoy presenting at , there are projects that I enjoy that absolutely require my own compact datacenter, and I know many of you feel the same about whatever gear you have in your home lab.


    Even though I joined VMware this past January as a vSAN Systems Engineer, I still invested in EVALExperience! I want to be able to stay on top of exactly what code is in there at any time, to give best effort help to readers who frequently leave comments and questions below my articles. If you have specific questions about signing up, or the downloads or license keys, please contact info@vmug.com directly. Here's some Q&A I've pulled together, based on questions TinkerTry visitors and I had, with VMUG Advantage's responses below each:

    1. I noticed the Kivuto download for vSAN 6.6 is correct, but what I’m wondering is about is the license key, do you know it’s for vSAN 6.6 for sure?
      The reason I ask is that would mean it’s now All Flash vSAN capable, since all vSAN editions include that now (it used to be hybrid only for EVAL Experience)

      The keys available are for vSAN 6.6

    2. Do you know how many ESXi hosts (servers), and how many CPU sockets in each, can be run with the licenses in EVAL Experience? (it used to be 3, see also screenshot below).

      Correct, it is 3! (servers)
      They can have 6 sockets (total) so 3 dual (sockets).
      Clarification by Zach Widing - VMware vSphere/vSAN/NSX licensing only cares about sockets…. So if its 3 hosts with dual sockets, the license should be 6 CPUs ;-p

    3. Which vSAN edition does the EVALExperience license key entitle users to?

      It is vSAN Enterprise, detailed below.

    EVALExperience downloads are actually faster than from VMware!

    This code download is fast and seemingly not rate-limited like most CDNs. Courtesy of the CacheFly CDN that you'll see featured in this video below, I got sustained download speeds upwards of 300Mbps, which is actually the full rated speed of my home lab's internet connection! See also my VCSA-friendly Ubiquiti Edgerouter Lite that's ready for a million packets per second, works great with vSphere 6.5, and costs under $100 USD!


    Brief overview of the latest updates, with some download speed tests.

    VMUG Advantage just added the latest NSX and All Flash vSAN 6.6 bits to EVALExperience


    1) Purchase VMUG Advantage here

    • EVALExperience for VMUG Advantage Subscribers

      20% Discount on VMware Training Classes
      20% Discount on VMware Certification Exams
      $500 IBM SoftLayer Cloud Credit
      35% Discount on VMware Lab Connect
      $100 Discount on VMworld Attendance
      Exclusive NSX Training & Certification Package

    2) Once you've made your purchase, visit

    • vmugadvantage.onthehub.com
      to get your software and license keys. If you think you'll be using all the offered code soon, it's a bit more straight forward to go ahead and add EVERYTHING to your shopping cart, then click the buy for $0 button, so you can kick off all those downloads.

      There's dozens of files in that VMUG Advantage EVALExperience WebStore awaiting, and they come from CacheFly CDN, in my case at an astounding 300Mbps.

      While those downloads are going, you can request all the license keys. This way, you can build up a single document that contains all those precious license keys, all in one place, to save somewhere safely.

      See also this spot below the VMTN reincarnated! EVALExperience is to VMware Professionals what MSDN/TechNet is to Microsoft Professionals article, where a good tip about the actual length of your new license key is mentioned (it's actually quite a bit beyond 365 days).



    Here's how the code availability landscape looked just 3 weeks ago, April 09 2017:

    VMware vSphere 6.5 buyers of full license:

    https://www.vmware.com/go/download-vsphere to get started, see also

    Version 6.5.0d
    April 18 2017

    Version 6.5.0d
    April 18 2017


    VMware Free Hypervisor Trial Edition

    60 days to try all features of >60 day old versions of ESXi 6.5 and VCSA 6.5, then need to rebuild, starting from scratch

    Version 6.5.0a
    February 02 2017

    November 15 2016

    Kivuto (VMUG Advantage / EVALExperience owners)

    Under “VMware vCenter Server Standalone for vSphere 6.x (English)” (should instead say “VMware vCenter Server Standalone for vSphere 6.0 and 6.5 (English)”

    Version 6.5.0
    November 15 2016

    Version 6.5.0
    November 15 2016

    May 01 2017 Update

    The official announcement has now been tweeted, see:

    Jun 03 2017 Update

    vSphere Enterprise

    I checked in with Madison this week, and she confirmed that the version of vSAN in EVALExperience is indeed the Enterprise version, which allows Dedupe and Compression and Data-at-Rest Encryption, without the need for pricier SED drives! I'll need to test this to test/verify all this, but wow, this is going to be huge! See comparison table here.

    Jul 31 2017 Update

    Yes, it's been tested, you can use vSphere Web Client to license vSAN for up to 6 CPUs with this EVALExperience vSAN license key. That's 6 single processor hosts (servers), nice!


    Aug 01 2017

    $20 off!

    The other big news here is that the discount code
    will work throughout 2017, as a way to knock $20 off your EVALExperience purchase! Just remember to use it when placing your order, before you finish checking out. That's right, just $180 now, even if you can't make it to your local VMUG!

    Aug 03 2017

    More big news! See:


    See also at TinkerTry.com

    This bug affected some VMware NSX users, completely fixed with a BIOS update:

    I know, this needs to be updated to 6.5, where the install has gotten easier, using my FQDN-capable router:

    See also

    Image courtesy of Emad Younis