No that I've seen, the 3 host minimum is unavoidable. The most cost effective way to create a homelab is to use vmware workstation on consumer hardware, and run a nested esxi lab. This is a little old but the premise holds
Its what I have and I can run a lab that tests a majoriy of vmware software. I'd suggest at least a intel 4 core cpu and 32gb of memory, but if you could do an 8 core cpu and 64gb of memory thats better. I leave it running alot and idle only uses around 30gb of ram.
There is buying hardware on eBay, but the cost for power adds up, consumer hardware is generally more energy efficient.
This is not a use case I would recommend for VMware Cloud on AWS.
View the pricing at https://cloud.vmware.com/vmc-aws/pricing
A single host in AWS's Oregon region is $7 per hour or $168 per day. Single Host SDDCs also have limits and you'll eventually need a production size SDDC at three hosts. That pricing is closer to $600 per day. The hosts backing VMware Cloud on AWS are not small. For a home lab, you likely want smaller cheaper hardware.
Further, because VMware Cloud on AWS is managed service offering, you will be restricted on what you can and cannot do if you are attempting to learn other VMware products in this environment. For example, configure host networking is not an option as this is all preconfigured and maintained by VMware.
Good luck with the other suggestions provided to build a home lab.
Having s "Home lab" it means to have your Server/Workstation/Laptop, Storage, Switch, Router equipment at home.
VMC on AWS is a VMware Cloud service hosted on Amazon Datacenters -> you cannot run this software at home (there is no ISO or any other way to export the "bits")...."hsherwin09" shared with you the official link for VMC on AWS pricing. Most probably is better to rent a service from different Hosting Datacenters (e.g. Rent a Server Online | Professional Hosting with lots of server space ) or buy an instances as a service (e.g.EC2 from AWS -> EC2 Instance Pricing – Amazon Web Services (AWS) )
To build a Home Lab you need to define your requirements:
- to provision few VMs with different operating systems for learning purpose => a 8 core CPU + 32 GB RAM + 1 TB storage it will be enough
- to build a nested Infrastructure (e.g. VMware infrastructure, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix Xen servers) on top of your hypervisor you will need : min 16 cores + min 64 GB RAM + > 2 TB storage (preferable NAS) + 2 NICs
There is no cost on License for the hypervisors software (e.g. VMware and Microsoft offer the hypervisor for free) ... I found an interesting blog with license cost:
As hardware - it depends on your budget:
a) you can buy a new or a second-hand Workstation / Server;
b) you can buy PC components and built your own Server (I built my lab in this way) => the advantage is that you can start with a minimum budget (e.g. 1000 euro) and in time you can improve/upgrade your LAB components;
c) you can buy mini servers, a switch and a shared storage (NAS).
I can share the experience with my Home LAB:
In 2010 I built my first Home Lab based on my old Workstation (it was an old AMD Athlon 1200 GHz) .... so, I reused parts of the old workstation (CD-ROM, Floppy, Tower, NICs) and I bought new PC components (AMD Phenom 6 cores, 16 GB of RAM (4 x 4 GB Kingston), ASUS Motherboard + RAID Controller + 4 x 256 GB SSD + NAS (with 3 x 1 TB HDD) and I spent ~ 2000 euro
From 2010 till 2017 I replaced the RAM (from 4 x 4 GB to 4 x 8 GB Corsair), I replaced the Power supply, I replaced the case by moving to a big Tower case (from that time I took in consideration to get prepared for E-ATX motherboards), I replaced the NAS HDDs (from 3 x 1 TB HDDs to 4 x 4 TB HDD) and I bought a new 8 ports switch + 2 x 10 Gbps SFP
In 2017 my LAB requirements have been changed drastically and the 32 GB of RAM became a major limitation, so I made a second major upgrade by replacing the Motherboard + CPU + RAM + buing 4 more 4TB disks (~ 6000 euro)
In addition to my Home LAB I'm using my office laptop for small repro (8 cores, 32 GB, 1 TB SSD, 2 NICs).
If I had to start from beginning, most probably I will start with Option c => 3 "Mini" servers + NAS + min 10 ports switch
Just keep in mind => PC components & Servers/Workstations has the higher depreciacion in time: (32 GB RAM memory module bought with 340 euro in 2018 is now 140 euro)