If you are not using or can not use the official VMware Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) to identify hardware systems and components that are officially supported with a given version of vSphere ESXi, then the experience in finding hardware can be quite daunting for both new and even existing users. Typically, users might start off by searching online or posting in the VMTN Community Forums and although I have attempted to help in this space with my VMware Community Homelab project, which attempts to crowd source working configuration and build-of-materials (BOM) that can assist, it certainly is a big challenge.
Even if you are successful in the initial assessment, there are no guarantees that your hardware configuration will be compatible with future vSphere ESXi releases and the investigative process will likely have to start all over again or simply with trial and error, which can also be frustrating for new users. I have always wanted and I know many of you in the community have also expressed similiar options in having a VMware Community HCL that can be used and maintain by the community.
Today, I am excited to share that we now have a platform that can enable an "unofficial" VMware Community HCL!
A little over 6 months ago, I was introduced to a project that was being worked on to make it easy for customers to manage and keep track of their specific hardware inventory and also the various VMware Solutions that were being used within their organization. This project is now available as a VMware Fling called Solution Designer and here is a quick description of the new service:
The Solution Designer Fling provides a platform to manage custom VMware solutions. Building a custom VMware solution involves many challenging tasks. One of the most difficult is continuous manual verifications: checking the interoperability of multiple VMware products and performing compatible hardware validations. Solution Designer seeks to resolve these issues by automating repetitive manual steps and collecting scattered resources in a single platform.
One really cool feature of the Solution Designer is the ability to create and/or import your specific hardware inventory by running a small collection script. Once an inventory has been created, you can then search on that inventory, but it would only available to you.
I immediately had a💡moment and asked for small feature enhancement, which has been implemented and would enable the community to crowdsource a VMware Community HCL! Users can now specify whether a specific hardware inventory is searchable when it is initially created (under Compatibility tab) or you can always update it at a later point, which was the case for me after the feature was added.
To search for specific hardware server and/or components, simply navigate to the Hardware Inventory tab select the Search Popular Hardware option begin your search. As you can see from the screenshot below, I have already submitted my personal homelab back in October and when searching for the keyword "NUC", we can see two systems appear from my homelab contribution to Solution Designer. Pretty dope if you ask me! 😁
I am super excited to that we now have a platform that is more scalable for capturing and sharing various hardware platforms that have been found to be compatible with vSphere ESXi that can benefit the broader VMware Community.
My ask of the community is to help build up the VMware Community HCL by submitting your hardware inventory to the Solution Designer Fling so that others in our community can benefit!