We are striving to avoid any on-site infrastructure at our startup. A combination local and cloud-hosted virtual machines have been working for us so far, but now we need an ESXi host as well. Currently I'm hosting ESXi under VMWare Fusion on my Macbook Pro, but that isn't really a long-term solution.

So, is there a cost-effective solution for hosting ESXi in the cloud? We're looking for 2+ cores, 8+ GB memory, 40+ GB HDD.

Editing to clarify why we need ESXi: one of the products we build is delivered to our customers as an ESXi virtual appliance. Building the appliance in VMWare Fusion and then trying to export for ESXi is generally a crapshoot in terms of device compatibility. I'd rather build and test it under ESXi in the first place so we can be more confident it will work when it is imported.

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    I don't think that'll work on any of the major cloud providers, and even if it did, hypervisor -> VM -> ESXi -> VMs wouldn't be much fun. The cloud provider's APIs should be replacing your need for ESXi, really. – ceejayoz Oct 2 '14 at 19:25
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    Your only option to be honest is to go and buy a dedicated machine or 2 and have ESXi installed on them, then you can build, for want of a better way of putting it, your own "private cloud". A hypervisor running on a VM is unlikely to work, and if it does, it won't work very well. – dannosaur Oct 2 '14 at 19:28
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    Get a dedi server. – BlueCompute Oct 2 '14 at 19:34
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    You'd be surprised how many of VMware's own labs are running inside nested ESXi environments... its a valid question! – SpacemanSpiff Oct 2 '14 at 19:48
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    The problem is, whether it would work or not, ESXi refuses to install, or just throws a purple screen of death, if running on any hypervisor other than a VMware product. This severely limits your options. – Michael Hampton Oct 2 '14 at 20:24

Running ESXi inside non-VMware products may or may not work.

One should be able run ESXi on most modern 64 bit machines with at least 4Gb ram, however it tends not to like VMs. Anyway, without proper hardware virtualization support you will not be be able to start 64 bit VMs inside it, but 32 bit VMs will work just fine. No public cloud gives you nested hardware virtualization at the moment, so no 64 bit VMs if you are running ESXi on a public cloud (Assuming it even starts).

You can run ESXi inside recent versions of any other VMware product on your own hardware, and if your hardware supports nested virtualization and you enable it, then you can even run 64 bit VMs inside the virtualized ESXi. This works, but is not recommended for production use by VMware.

None of these are officially supported scenarios.

You could investigate baremetal clouds or dedicated servers.

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