Today there was an announcement of the vCloud Service Evaluation. It's an online service for customers to test-drive a cloud built on the VMware vCloud platform.
The idea is to make it very fast and simple learn about vCloud and see the software in action. I think its generally recognised that whilst at stretched many people can stand-up a homelab of kit for vSphere environment - its major ask to do the same to support a vCD implementation with all the bells and whistle turned on. I have 8 servers in my lab with 4 different storage arrays and even I'm concerned about if that's realistic enough for my preparation for the VCP-IaaS exam.
To register all you need is a credit card and you will recieve in minutes your vCD-based environment complete with operating systems and templates - and the ability to use vCloud Connector to move VMs from your vSphere environment into the evaluation space. Once your done with your eval you can use the same connector to move to a vCloud Service Provider for production use. There will be a charge but it will be a relatively nominal one just to cover the usage. It's an evaluation after all, not a commerical product.
Of course there will be some that will want to speculate that this is some sort of cloak and dagger move to establishing an IaaS service. That's not the case. The intention here is to help customers learn about and experience the benefits. There's been a lot of work to establish the VSPP and its been successful programme, so this is really about helping customers understand the benefits of vCD which should assist the providers in promoting their services. The VSPP is doing very well with over 145 VSPP operating over 28 countries. So try to see this development in the light of the other cloud services currently available across the company such as cloudfoundary.com, VMware Go, SlideRocket and so on.
Customers can register for VMware vCloud Service Evaluation from today, and beta invites will be sent out starting August 27, 2012.
To participate in the vCloud Service Evaluation Beta register at www.vmware.com/go/vcloudbeta
Service Providers can connect with users evaluating the vCloud Service Evaluation by clicking the 'Community' link at vcloud.vmware.com
Anyway, the official press release is here if you looking for more information: