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As many in the IT field know, getting hands-on experience with software to gain familiarity and uncover any quirks is the best way to evaluate a software product before making a purchase. As VMware integrates more of its products in its software-defined stack, the ability to appraise the usefulness of a particular offering is critical. In January 2015, VMware heeded the call from its customers and, through an agreement with the VMware User Group Advantage (VMUG) organization, started something called EVALExperience.
Leafing through a book and digesting video tutorials can't compare to the experience of running through the installation, configuration and practical use of the application in a home lab. A VMUG Advantage substription can help users get access to hands-on opportunities.
Building proficiency with a software product and constructing a proof of concept takes time -- particularly if you have a full-time job and a family life -- leaving little time to fully explore the functionality before VMware's usual 60-day trial period expires. At that point, the alternative is to submit a request for another trial period, rebuild the lab environment and start from the beginning.
Several years ago, VMware offered a VMware Technology Network (VMTN) subscription that, for $299 a year, gave users rights to use various VMware products and access to free applications from vendors such as Oracle in the form of a virtual machine. VMTN closed down in 2007 but many in the VMware community have hoped it would be resurrected in some form.
By purchasing a $200 VMUG Advantage subscription, users have access to the EVALExperience software evaluation program, which provides 365 days of licensing for personal use. These licenses are meant for home labs that are not connected to production environments. Also, there is no support from VMware with a product running on the EVALExperience licenses.
VMware doesn't have all its products available through the EVALExperience program, such as the NSX network virtualization offering, but it does cover:
• VMware vCenter Server Standalone for vSphere 6
• VMware vSphere with Operations Management Enterprise Plus
• VMware vCloud Suite
• VMware vRealize Operations Insight
• VMware vRealize Operations
• VMware vRealize Log Insight
• VMware vRealize Operations for Horizon
• VMware Horizon Advanced Edition
• VMware Virtual SAN, including the all-flash option
The VMUG Advantage program has other perks, namely access to the VMworld 2015 online content, which would otherwise cost $699, and discounts on software licenses, certifications and training.
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