vSphere Lab-in-a-Box 07: Configuration of Virtual ESXi Servers

We are finally ready to create the virtual ESXi servers on our Lab Host.

Enable Nested ESXi Servers

Before we create the virtual ESXi servers, we need to make a small tweak to the Lab Host to allow this.

You will need an SSH client, such as Putty, to connect to the Lab Host and make the change.  Download the putty.exe file to your workstation.

On the Lab Host, go to the Configuration tab and click on Security Profile.  Then click Properties… in the top right.


Click on SSH and then the Options… button.


Click on the Start button to start the SSH service.


In the list of services, you will now see that the SSH service is Running.

Open the putty.exe you downloaded and type in the IP address of your Lab Host and then Open.


Click Yes on the security warning, then log in as root and the password for your Lab Host.


Once you are logged in, type the following command and press enter:

Type exit to leave the SSH session.  If you want, you can turn off the SSH service, but it’s not necessary.


Creating the Virtual Machine

On your Lab Host, go to the Virtual Machines tab and right-click – New Virtual Machine…


Choose Custom and then Next.


Give your virtual machine a name and click Next.


Choose your storage location.  I picked the slowest of all my drives, since ESXi will run mostly from RAM once it has loaded, and later in this series we will configure a shared storage location for all the virtual VMs to run from, so we don’t need a speedy disk for the virtual ESXi hosts.


Leave the Virtual Machine Version on 8.


Under Guest Operating System, choose Other and then select Other (64-bit) from the list.


As these virtual ESXi servers will be running virtual machines themselves, I configure them with 2 virtual CPU sockets, as I have an 8-core processor in the Lab Host.  Configuring them with just 1 virtual socket is sufficient too.


I also have lots of RAM in my Lab Host, so I configure the virtual machine with 8GB RAM.


I will be configuring my virtual ESXi hosts with 6 NICs each, to simulate a common production server specification – 2 onboard NICs and a single quad-port NIC or two dual-port NICs.  However we can only add 4 NICs at this point, so select 4 and connect two to the Management and vMotion network and two to the Storage network.


Create a new virtual disk and change the size to 20GB and the provisioning to Thin Provisioned.  The default size of 8GB will be fine for ESXi, but I also use the ESXi local storage disks to store disk ISOs, so I increase the size to 20GB to accommodate that.


At the Summary screen, simply click Finish to create the new virtual machine.


Configuring the Virtual Machine

Under the Configuration tab – Storage, upload the vSphere Hypervisor ISO to your storage device.

When that has completed, go back to the Virtual Machines tab, right-click on the new VM and Edit Settings…

Remove the Floppy drive, then click Add… Choose Ethernet Adapter and click Next.


Connect the Adapter to the Virtual Machines network and then Next and Finish.


Add another identical Ethernet Adapter, connected to the Virtual Machines network, to make 6 adapters in total.

Click on CD/DVD drive 1 and set the Device Type to the ISO file you uploaded earlier.  Tick the Connect at power on box.


Choose the Options tab, then change the Guest Operating System to VMware ESXi 5.x.


Choose CPU/MMU Virtualization on the left, then change the setting to the last option.


Click OK to save the virtual machine configuration.


Installing ESXi on the Virtual Machine

Power on the virtual machine and open the console to it.  Proceed through the installation exactly as is documented in post 02 of the series.  The installation on virtual hardware is no different than on physical hardware.

After the setup has completed and the server has rebooted, it should have obtained a DHCP address from your domain controller.


To complete the setup of this virtual ESXi server, I will configure a static IP address and a hostname.

From the console, press F2 to log in and type the root password.


Using the arrow keys, select Configure Management Network and press enter.  Select IP Configuration, press space bar, and then set a static address as below.


Press enter to save, then go to DNS Configuration and enter a hostname.


Press Esc and then Y to apply the changes to the virtual ESXi host.


Set Up Second Virtual ESXi Host

Follow the same steps to create another identical virtual machine and install it.  I named the second server esx02 and gave it the static IP address


DNS Entries

To finish off, we’ll create DNS entries for both servers on our domain controller.

Log onto the DC and open DNS Manager.

Right-click on your lab forward lookup zone and choose New Host.  Type in the name of the first virtual ESXi server, as well as the IP address and tick Create associated pointer (PTR) record.  Click Add Host to complete.


Add another host with the details of the second server.


Open the relevant reverse lookup zone and confirm that both servers are listed within.


In the next post, we’ll set up the vCenter server, which will manage the virtual ESXi servers.


Lab-in-a-Box Series:
01 Introduction
02 ESXi Installation on Physical Hardware
03 Installation of vSphere Client
04 Lab Host Configuration
05 Domain Controller Setup
06 Domain and Related Services
07 Configuration of Virtual ESXi Servers
08 vCenter Server Setup
09 vCenter Server Configuration
10 Set up OpenFiler NAS
11 Set up iSCSI
12 Set up NFS
13 Set up Secondary Domain Controller
14 vMotion Tests