Any place to find affordable licenses for a homelab?

I’m starting a homelab purely for learning and maybe doing some self hosted things for my family and I. The company I work at uses almost exclusively esxi + vcenter, and then veam in some areas. I want to learn more about it/spin stuff up at home to play with to help advance my knowledge for work. However, the license costs past the 60 day evaluation period are pretty erroneous for my single use case. If i read it correctly, it’s nearly $3kUSD for esxi and vcenter. Right now I am planning on just doing the free tier with limitations, but if possible, would like to get the full license so I can play with all the tools.

Do y’all know if there are ever sales, license giveaways that type of thing?

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  1. You mention Veeam as well and I know this is the r/VMWare subreddit, but since you mention Veeam I’ll throw this your way. You can get a full working Veeam Availibility Suite NFR (not for resale) license of VEEAM with all Veeam features for free for 365 days through spiceworks. There is a community on spiceworks that Veeam offers the NFR licenses for. Once your 365 days is up you can renew it again. Veeam does that in hopes that sysadmins will go home and use the software, like it, then go to work and convince their employer to use it. I know your mainly asking about VMWare but thought I would share this regarding Veeam.


  2. Just VMware ESXi and Vcenter in Vmware Vcenter Essential is not bad priced and eternal if you don’t want service past the first year but it is only like $65 to maintain service which maintains access to upgrades to new versions.

    Cost is 576.96


    If you are using Vmotion and HA then you are talking the 3k pricetag. But you are not really moving things server to server and need what the Esential Plus has. One server the ESXi Essential and not the Plus is all that is needed. actually good for one instance of vcenter and 3 servers with 2 processors max in each no core max.

  3. So i do have a follow up question on the VMUG stuff. So you are building a home lab, VMUG licenses gives you pretty much anything from a hypervisor standpoint.

    Where you all pull your Microsoft licenses from to build servers and clients? I am trying to decide to invest in a homelab but cant get around the MS licensing costs.

  4. I’ve been looking into this too and Vmug does seem the way to go. For backups I’ve been using ghetto which is free and works great. I think there is a free version of Veeam, but not sure how free.

  5. Microsoft has a program that used to be called Dreamspark, not sure what it’s called now, that would give you licenses for various MS products if you have access to an EDU email. A lot of colleges never really deactivate your email if you had one so maybe look into that.

  6. How many licenses does VMUG allow on one subscription? Let’s say I want to homelab build a 5 node vSAN cluster, it will provide the 5 enterprise plus licenses to do this?

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