How To Build & Clone A Virtualized (ESXi) Environment

By Danielle Arad - May 2, 2015
3 min read

CloudShare’s secure on-demand labs house thousands of enterprise set-ups, from “simple” web apps to multi-tier monoliths. In our new “User of the Month” section, we will share what’s behind the firewall in these environments, and what makes our most interesting users love CloudShare’s on demand environments.

Our first “User of the Month” is Aaron Yarnal, a security consultant who used CloudShare to test gateway security for a California hospital with 20,000 network users. Aaron built and cloned a virtualized (ESXi) environment, safely tested filtering tools, and upgraded 10 hardened appliances — while staying well within the hospital’s security regulations.
Congratulations! Learn how he did it below!

Upgrading on CloudShare


Aaron’s client needed to upgrade malware detection and improve gateway security. He suggested updating the gateway appliances responsible for traffic filtering as a first step. The gateways in place provide web security and anti-malware protection for 20,000+ end users.
To test these upgrades correctly, he needed to mirror this large virtualized production environment, test ten different traffic filtering appliances, then validate and document each test case.

Running Isolated Gateway Tests in CloudShare

Aaron explains, “Cloudshare’s ESXi blueprint quickly built a simulation of my customer’s environment. I cloned this, performed the tests and upgrades and left the client with clean documentation and live environments of each important threat scenario.” (His steps below)

1. Created a new environment in CloudShare‘s virtual IT lab environment based on the ESXi 5.5 template.

2. Downloaded the custom Web Gateway Appliance images and imported them into the ESXi Server.

3. Using Cloudshare ‘s “Cloud Folders”, I copied over the configuration for the Secure Web Gateway Appliances and applied that configuration to the Secure Web Gateways in CloudShare

4. Next, I performed a series of product upgrades on the virtual appliances. CloudShare really shined, as I was able to easily take snapshots, revert and test different upgrade paths.

5. I then ran validated all of my test cases, running the networks in promiscuous mode without any threat of failure.
Aaron then took snapshots and screenshots, building step-by-step documentation for each upgrade. As he notes, many enterprise environments follow a strict change control processes, so the ability to save a snapshot of network changes is critically important.

Aaron’s lab before Cloudshare

Prior to using CloudShare, Aaron attempted to build his own ESXi environment in his home lab. This meant not just buying servers but installing software from scratch, configuring  and maintaining all the images, and running out of capacity often. Aaron explains, “Building the environment in my home lab limited me to a small set of VMs that could not come close to replicating the scale and complexity of the hospital’s needs”. He continues, ” Not only that, but I had to manage the servers myself. With one power outage, all of my work could be wiped out”.


In a few minutes on CloudShare, Aaron saved his client thousands of dollars of lab expenses and securely expanded their testing capabilities to cover every possible upgrade path in their complex environment.

Keeping their lab environment in CloudShare ensures the hospital has a stable baseline that never leave user data or production environments at risk. There are no capacity limits and their roadmap can cover every package, configuration and test case.  Learn more about how CloudShare automates software upgrade testing, or test it yourself in minutes, in your own lab.

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