13 Jul 2011

VMWare vSphere Hypervisor - Part 1 : Installation and Use

Cloud migration makes sense on many levels however there may be certain server operations your business prefers to keep local for whatever reason, and for multi-box resource intelligence a virtualisation solution delivering consolidated server IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) is the way to go. Gone are the days of a single server per function sat sucking up power at 2% of load 24/7/365. Thankfully technology has evolved and today we can operate our systems across substantially more efficient and manageable platforms.

VMWare are kings of virtualisation and offer a comprehensive range of products to accommodate all needs, from basic desktop offerings enabling Microsoft functionality for Macs (VMWare Fusion) all the way up to multi-thousand node SAN based installations for cloud IaaS. In this short series of posts were going to be looking at entry level IaaS for localised server consolidation using VMWares free solution, the vSphere Hypervisor
The latest vSphere Hypervisor consists of two products, the ESXi 4.1 platform, and the vSphere management client.

ESXi 4.1 is a cut down version of VMWare ESX designed to run on 64 bit hardware, it offers a smaller footprint, single device installation (as oppose to SAN) and has no console or web service management. VM limits and combined thresholds are more than adequate for small to medium enterprise use offering up to 320 virtual machines per host. ESXi is managed by the (presently PC only) vSphere Client.

ESXi Installation

For those wishing to evaluate ESXi prior to real world installation the latest version is recognised and runs quite happily inside the VMWare Fusion desktop client, simply register at the VMWare site, download the .ISO, select accordingly as shown below and run through the installation.


Fig:1 - ESXi Server 4.1 VMWare Fusion installation

Once installed you will need a second Windows based Fusion VM to run the vSphere client. Install the OS, download the vsSphere client, install it, and connect to the ESXi using the IP address as supplied.


Fig 2: EXSi Hypervisor VMWare Fusion instance installed and running showing the connection IP.

VM Installation

It's up to you where you store your installation images and how you install, i.e from disk or image file. I like to keep mine in the main ESXi data store where they can be re-accessed quickly and easily, here's how to upload :

  • Highlight the ESXi IP from the left hand management pane of the vSphere Client window.
  • Select the configuration tab.
  • Right click the related datastore in use and 'Browse Datastore'
  • Create folders and upload .ISO files into them as required.

Fig 3: The ESXi Datastore Browser accessed through the vSphere Client.

When creating a new VM ensure the relevant boot (ISO) image is both attached and set to connect at power on. Once done simply boot the instance and install accordingly. Connection once installed is either via the internal vSphere console or via RDP (for Windows), or SSH (Linux).


Fig 4: VM Properties window highlighting Datastore ISO connection.

In the Part 2 we'll examine operational tools and monitoring plus image backup and restore.

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