So this is in regards to https://serverfault.com/questions/733438/nested-esxi-vlan-trunking-not-working, which was closed because it was considered off topic. I had a chance to discuss this with EEAA, one of the two people who voted to close it. His criticisms of the question had to do with it being "non-production, non-professional, home lab environment" and it not being a "reasonable business information technology management practice" to nest ESXi inside of VM Workstation for testing purposes, even though VMware Workstation is specifically marketed for this purpose on its product page:

https://www.vmware.com/products/workstation Experiment by running multiple operating systems and applications, or run enterprise-focused hypervisors like ESXi as virtual machines to build a personal lab while preparing for VMware Certification tests (i.e. VCP).

And that leaving the question open could result in SF becoming the "tech support of the internet" due to the broken windows theory in his opinion. I did not have an opportunity to discuss this with the other user - HostBits.

So my question to meta SF would be, where do these questions regarding lab/test environments for enterprise equipment and software belong if not here? The help center topic for "What topics can I ask about here?" says:

If your question is about:

• managing the hardware or software of servers, workstations, storage or networks

• tools used for administering, monitoring, or automating these

• deployment to and management of third-party provided information technology platforms

and is not about:

• consumer workstations or networking (which belong on our sister site, Super User)

• working with a service provider's management interface, such as cPanel

• product, service, or learning material recommendations

• product licensing inquiries or legal advice career, salary, personnel, employment, or formal education

• unauthorized use or misuse of IT systems

IMHO my question fell under points 1 & 2 - managing/administerting enterprise class software & equipment - albeit in a non-production environment. EEAA's insistence that lab environment questions do not belong on SF is not at all included in the help page. And although I'm not entirely sure if this is accurate, I can only assume EEAA & HostBits felt that it fell under consumer networking just because VMware Workstation 12 Pro was involved, as I dont see how my question could possibly involve any of the other 4 points of things which are not allowed. If this is accurate, then it would only be a piece of the puzzle, as ESXi, a full Cisco network, and the workstation it was running on were enterprise class. And personally i'm not even aware of any consumer grade gear which supports VLAN trunking (yes I know some SOHO equipment supports VLANs, but not trunk ports).

And discussing this with both EEAA and Journeyman Geek, neither could recommend what site my question did belong on, and at least JG though it would be inappropriate for SU. So my question to meta would be, where do these questions enterprise class lab belong in SE, and would re-opening my question be appropriate?

  • Link to relevant SF chat log. – EEAA Nov 3 '15 at 2:34
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    The only answer to "Where if not here" is clear: It's absolutely not our task to find a spot for off-topic questions. Personally, I really don't care about such questions at all - post it anywhere but here. – Sven Nov 3 '15 at 2:44
  • @Sven, it seems rather ironic you would say that, and post this as well meta.serverfault.com/questions/2341/… – Matt Nov 3 '15 at 2:48
  • @mattburnett Can we just agree to stop with the ad hominem? That question has nothing to do with this discussion. – EEAA Nov 3 '15 at 2:50
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    How is this relevant? Did I state anywhere that we should work hard to find a place for every question? No, I didn't. Also, quite frankly, between that post and today are four years of crap questions and fruitless discussions with people who just can't accept a closed question and carry on. – Sven Nov 3 '15 at 2:54
  • I considered your comment hostile, and the post of yours I linked had to do with hostility on SF. And now you're resorting to name calling... – Matt Nov 3 '15 at 2:58
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    Sven's comment was not hostile. It was pragmatic. Though we would love to find a home for every single question that gets asked on SF, it's just not possible. Very few of us are active in a meaningful way outside of Server Fault and as such, are not overly familiar with the topicality of the dozens of other SE sites. – EEAA Nov 3 '15 at 3:02
  • NOTE I'm going to caution all involved. Do not let comments here devolve into un-constructive behavior. We're all here trying to do the best we can, and this topic deserves an honest, yet respectful conversation. – EEAA Nov 3 '15 at 3:02
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    My comment wasn't hostile. I would call it direct, but pragmatic works as well. I edited it to reflect that while I believe that's really not our task to find a spot for OT questions, "I don't care" is primarily my personal view. – Sven Nov 3 '15 at 3:16
  • If you consider saying you dont care and I should go anywhere but here as not hostile you may want to re-read the definition as it is unfriendly, inhospitable, oppositional and antagonistic. It was nice to see that you edited out the name calling however. dictionary.reference.com/browse/hostile – Matt Nov 3 '15 at 3:22
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    @mattburnett It's only categorically hostile, etc. if you have a deeply Amerocentric view of the world and communication. Sven is not from the U.S. You run into non-Americans once in a while on the Internet. Or so I hear. – Wesley Nov 3 '15 at 3:46
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    Something that can't be seen because they are deleted is that we close that type of question regularly and will continue to do so. Broken windows theory is definitely appropriate here as you have so amply demonstrated. If you are going to do lab work for business do it properly not with a difficult/impossible to debug frankenstack. – Iain Nov 3 '15 at 6:30

My reasons were thus:

  1. It's a home environment.
  2. Even if it is supported by VMware, the configuration you propose is not something that any sane sysadmin would ever implement. If you want to lab out something, do it as you would in production, or as close to it as possible. Trying to shoehorn an enterprise-class hypervisor into a workstation-class virtualization software running on a workstation-class OS is not embelematic of "reasonable business information technology management practices".

I'm not going to re-iterate this whole discussion. Those that are interested can read through the above-linked chat transcript.

  • I can understand and agree with the idea that you would want to do something as close to production as possible, but not everyone can afford the hardware (or power bill) involved for a 3 node vSphere cluster. Doing things like this IMO is one of the selling points of virtualization. – Matt Nov 3 '15 at 2:40
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    That's right, absolutely. But neither that point nor any of your other points give your question a right to be answered on SF. – EEAA Nov 3 '15 at 2:41
  • I'll sign on to this answer, with the caveat that I don't think nested virtualization alone is sufficient to call something off-topic. It's something we're going to be seeing a lot more of in the next few years. – Michael Hampton Nov 3 '15 at 2:53
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    @MichaelHampton Agreed. It will likely not involve VMware Workstation/Parallels/Virtualbox, though. God help me if it does. – EEAA Nov 3 '15 at 2:54
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    Even if nested ESXi is somewhat supported, it fails the reasonable practices test. It's not an insane amount of money to run bare-metal ESXi on an old desktop or 2 or 3 and that would be a better learning setup. – Ward Nov 3 '15 at 6:04

You can rent a server from OVH (others too probably) for about 100USD per month, they list ESXi as a virtualisation environment they have available for preinstallation.

The setup above is much closer to the kind of environment you will have in production. It will help you understand the issues better and will not add unnecessary layers of complexity. More importantly, from a business point of view is that it will be cheaper as, you do not have to wrestle with issues caused by unnecessary layers of complexity. At any reasonable pay rate $100 for a months server time is a drop in the ocean of business costs. You have probably spent more money already arguing here.

Just because something can be done, does not mean that you should and nor does it mean that we here on SF have to answer your questions about it. We regularly close questions about frankenstacks of all types because they do not fit our scope.

Once we have decided that something is off topic for Server Fault that is the end of our engagement, we are not obliged to help you find a home for your question.

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    +1000 for that last paragraph, Iain. – MadHatter Nov 3 '15 at 21:45
  • @MadHatter and OP: I honestly cannot agree with the last paragraph on this answer. It's a rather combative approach to handling off-topic content. It doesn't take much effort to suggest a more appropriate venue for a particular question. This attitude will only turn users away from the Stack Exchange network. – bwDraco Jan 1 '16 at 1:20
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    @bwDraco Actually it takes a lot of effort to do it right. You have to participate on the target site(s) and know what is a good question for them, there is more to a migration than the name. For example SF is no longer a migration target for SO because lots of people who did not participate here thought this was the right place to migrate questions based on the name Server Fault. We ended up closing most of them. meta.serverfault.com/q/3853/9517, – Iain Jan 1 '16 at 6:49

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