Disclaimer: My VMUG Advantage subscription was provided courtesy of the Boston VMUG. This post was not paid for, nor reviewed prior to publishing. This is simply my opinion after using the service. Additionally, I am an EMC employee
There are many advantages to signing up for the VMUG Advantage membership, 1st and foremost when I first signed up was for the discounts to the VMware Certified Professional exams. Since that time, they have added access to VMware licenses and a $600* credit to vCloud Air. It is worth noting that the $600 credit is broken up into two discreet $300 credits for 6 months each. When you first sign up you get $300 for the first 6 months, then will receive an additional $300 credit for the next 6 months. This works out to roughly $50 per month.
Subscribers can use this credit to leverage vCloud Air to test and run many different types of software applications, not just VMware products. Since vCloud Air is based on vSphere, anything you could run in your own data center, you could run on vCloud Air, so long as it is supported.
Say, for example, you were interested in getting some hands on time with SaltStack or Ansible. You could import an existing application server from vCenter and build another virtual machine to run the tool you want to test to see how the two would interact without affecting resources in your existing data center. Just as you would with existing virtual machines, you could export these or even connect your vCloud Air account to your on-premises vCenter or connect to third party services such as UpGuard (formerly ScriptRock). Another use case might be seeing how you can connect vRealize Automation to vCloud Air to build a hybrid cloud, where users have access to both local and public compute resources.
In my next post, I will go though the steps to access vCloud Air and setup a virtual data center.