Installing vSphere 7 on VMware Workstation – Part 1 – ESXi Install
It’s been a very long time between drinks on my blog. I started off pretty well, with some interesting articles on things then kind of forgot about it all. Well I’m back! And I aim to keep updating my blog as often as I can.
With that in mind I’m going to start with a passion of mine: installing ESXi and vCenter on VMware Workstation. I’m using the latest (15.5 at time of writing) but you can use previous versions if you have them. It may also be possible to emulate (pun intended) what I do in VirtualBox but you may have to figure that one out yourselves.
I had the following setup before I started the install, some of these elements are not strictly required but I’m assuming they are available when doing the install:
- An Ethernet IP v4 Network
- Microsoft Active Directory (2019 Server)
- A NAS or equivalent with Shared IP iSCSI Based Storage
- vCenter Server Appliance 7.0 GA ISO (can be downloaded from VMware)
- ESXi 7.0 GA ISO (can be download from VMware)
- 7-zip (or alternative tool) that can extract from an ISO installed on your computer
All of the above can be created through VMware Workstation in VM’s but they all need RAM and that, as you will see, fills up pretty fast.
Physical Spec’s of the Workstation Machine
I’m using the following as a VMware Workstation host:
- A Ryzen 7 2700X Eight Core CPU (with Hyper-threading it’s 16 core)
- 32GB of RAM
- 1TB SSD (Ideally, less than 1TB can still work but not ideal)
- 1Gbe Physical Network Connection
Anything less than 32GB of RAM will get very restricted, very quickly. What we are aiming for is the following once deployed:
- 2 x ESXi Hosts – 2 vCPU, 6GB RAM Each
- A vCenter Server Appliance with PSC Integrated, Tiny install – 2 vCPU, 10GB RAM
As you can see straight away we have allocated 22GB of RAM out of the 32GB.
A Note on vCenter Install Type
There are two ways of installing vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) in VMware Workstation. One, the traditional approach, is to install vCenter onto an ESXi host as is most commonly done in actual vSphere deployments. Two, install vCenter as a VM native to VMware Workstation – as if it was another virtual machine. Although installing vCenter on ESXi is a valid approach, and I would encourage trying it at some point to get familiar with the process, we will deploy vCenter as a native VM on Workstation.
I’m taking the native install approach as I want vCenter to perform as well as it can. As a native VM on Workstation it will deliver a faster response than an additional layer of meta-virtualisation by deploying to one of the virtual ESXi hosts.
The Foundation – ESXi 7.0 Install
To begin we will install the two ESXi hosts with a few NIC’s to separate traffic. Eight NIC’s is a bit of an overkill but as we run through the setup we will utilise all of them for various traffic types.
- Open VMware Workstation and select File->New Virtual Machine
- Select Custom (advanced) VM type and then click Next
- Select the highest level VM type available (in this case 15) then hit Next
- Select the vSphere 7.0 GA ISO from it’s download location and click Next
- If prompted, select VMware ESX as the guest operating system, version VMware ESXi 6.X and click Next
- Name the ESXi VM an appropriate name, I named the first host ESX01, then select the SSD location to save the VM files then hit Next
- Leave the default of 2 processors with 1 core each and click Next
- Enter 6144MB of RAM, giving 6GB of memory for the VM, then hit Next
- Select the “Use Bridged Networking” option then click Next
- Click Next accepting the Paravirtualized SCSI option
- Leave virtual disk type as SCSI and hit Next
- Create a new virtual disk and hit Next
- I like to have a larger disk than the default 40GB size, so I changed it to 100GB remembering only used space is actually allocated in Workstation, select a size then hit Next
- Leave the file name as the default and hit Next
- On the last screen select “Customise Hardware” button
- Then the Add button on the next screen
- Select Network Adapter and Finish
- Once added change to “Bridged Connection” similar to the first adapter
- Repeat the above steps 16 to 18 and add seven more Network adapters selecting bridged (there should be a total of eight adapters attached to the ESXi VM), then Close
- Then hit the Finish button
- The VM will start and boot to the first part of the install screen (if not start the VM and let it boot) the welcome message
- Click into the VM then hit Enter for the (Enter) Continue option
- Next select F11 to accept the licencing terms (note: please read and understand the licencing terms and conditions before accepting, if you do not accept the terms stop at this step and remove the virtual machine)
- The ESXi install will scan the VM…
- The 100GB disk (or the size entered above) should show as an install location, hit Enter to continue
- Select language “US Default” should be fine, hit Enter
- Enter a Root password twice then hit Enter to set it
- Confirm the install by hitting F11
- ESXi will install, once complete remove the CD ISO mounted by right-click the VM, select Removable Devices->CD/DVD (IDE)->Disconnect
- And hit Enter to confirm the install
- ESXi is now installed, the VM will restart and the hypervisor will load
Repeat the above steps and create a second ESXi server with the name ESX02 but all other settings the same.
Next up some theory on how we may configure DNS on ESXi 7.0 GA on VMware Workstation and how to do the configuration.
For Part 2 of this guide see here.