I recently came to learn about a really neat solution that was released called the VMware Cloud Foundation Lab Constructor (VLC) Holodeck Toolkit, which makes it super easy for anyone to deploy a complete functional VCF environment, fully self-contained and deploys all the required networking and infrastructure services that dramatically reduces the amount of time and effort to deploy a VCF environment for evaluation or learning purposes.
What is unique about the VLC Holodeck Toolkit is that it ships with a special vPodRouter VM, which provides all the networking and connectivity that is required to deploy a typical production VCF environment. If this sounds familiar, this is exactly how VMware Hands-On-Labs (HOL) works where isolated networking is provided to each "vPod" through their vPodRouter VM. In addition, the VLC Holodeck Toolkit also builds a custom Windows Jumphost (bastion) ISO that includes all the infrastructure services like DNS, Directory, Certificate Authority, etc. that is fully configured and ready to use once it is deployed and this is how users interact with the VCF environment.
With the VLC Holodeck Toolkit providing and building all the necessary "virtual" infrastructure, the barrier to entry is further reduced and customers can easily stand up a fully functional VCF environment running on just a single ESXi host without any special physical networking requirements. For a detailed overview of the solution, check out overview video below.
After learning about the solution, I also had the opportunity to kick the tires and provide some early feedback, which included a few additional optimizations that made its way back into the toolkit. For those interested, below is the high level workflow to go from a single ESXi host with minimal configuration to a fully functional VCF environment.