February 4th, 2015 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

Configuring the ESXi management interface via the Direct Console User Interface (DCUI) is the first step, post installation, needed to make your ESXi host accessible (unless of course it obtains an address via DHCP). Once the management interface is setup and working you can then log into the server from the host based client or use tools such as PowerCLI to manage and configure the host.  In fact, since the basic features of ESXi are free, you could start virtualizing with just 1 host and the management interface configured.

virtualize-all-the-thingsOnce the install is complete and you have restarted your server, you will be at the DCUI.

  • Press the F2 button on your keyboard and enter the password you set during installation (see, no copy and paste here which is why I start with something easy).

esxi-6-dcui

  • Use the arrow key to “Configure Management Network” and press enter
  • Select “Network Adapters” and hit enter; here you can choose which network interfaces you want configured as a vmkernel adapter to support management traffic.  In this example only have 1 NIC but you may  have many in a production environment (you can very easily run  small workload traffic over 1 interface, but you won’t have redundancy)

esxi-6-select-network-adapters

  • Depending on your network configuration, you may need to go into “VLAN (optional)” to set your VLAN ID for this interface if you require all traffic to be tagged (for example in a UCS environment).  For simple configurations, this step is probably not needed.
  • Next, use the arrow keys to go to “IP Configuration” and press enter.  You can set either a dynamic or static IP address.  If you go the dynamic route via a DHCP server I’d suggest using a reservation so your IP address is consistent.  Using DHCP here also adds some considerations for availability.  For example if your DHCP server is not available, your host won’t get an IP address.
  • If you use IPv6, select “IPv6 Configuration” and configure as needed.
  • Now, go to “DNS Configuration” and press enter.  Here you define your DNS servers as well as your host name.  If you opted for DHCP, these will be provided otherwise enter these as appropriate and make sure you host name matches the DNS record you created.
  • Once finished, hit the ESC key.  Here you will be prompted to restart the management network (unless you didn’t make any changes, which if you are using DHCP is certainly possible)

esxi-6-restart-management-network

If you have not already done so, create the appropriate DNS records for your host(s). You should now be able to access the Welcome page and download the Windows client. You could also connect to the host using PowerCLI at this point.

esxi-6-download-client

The basics are now in place for you to start creating virtual machines!

Back to basics – Configuring the ESXi management interface via DCUI

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February 3rd, 2015 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

Before you get started with virtualization in your environment there are a few things you will need to have in place.

First and foremost you will need a working network in place to provide the various components of you vSphere solution connectivity to one another.  A working DNS solution must be in place, in most cases this is provided by the Domain Controllers in a Windows Active Directory environment.  DNS and AD will support both name resolution of your hosts as well as Single Sign-On (SSO) used by vCenter.

In addition to DNS, NTP is very important, especially if you plan to introduce solutions such as vRealize Automation. Even if virtual machines are just a few minutes off, products may not work properly.

Here are the components in a typical setup:

  • 1 or more switches, preferably with support for VLANs
  • Defined IP scheme and IP documentation solution (spreadsheet, IPAM tool etc)
  • LDAP server, typically Microsoft Windows
  • DNS server, typically provided by Windows Domain Controller
  • NTP server, typically running on linux but you could use your DC as well

Once the above items are in place, you can now create DNS records for each of your ESXi hosts.  With DNS records created, you can breeze through the installation and configuration of ESXi via the Direct Console User Interface (DCUI). Additionally, kickstart files can be used to configure your ESXi hosts during installation by pressing “shift-O” during startup to access to the boot options or by using Auto Deploy. If you do opt for Auto Deploy, consider a management cluster built on ESXi hosts installed to local disk or SD/USB drives. In this cluster you would run your critical services such as AD, DHCP, DNS, and vCenter so that during an outage you have the ability to recover core services that do not rely on the very services you are trying to restore. Once the management cluster is restored, Auto Deploy can service. Rob Nelson covers Auto Deploy nicely on a #vBrownBag over at professionalvmware.com.

Other components you need to also consider installing during production builds include a centralized syslog server (vCenter provides one for free, or Log Insight which is an enterprise grade solution. You can also use syslog-ng, Graylog, Splunk, or Nagios Log Monitor. Other tools that ship with vCenter include the dump collector, VMware Update Manager, the VMware Support Assistant and some type of monitoring solution such as Nagios, Realize Operations (vR Ops) or Hyperic. With a working environment ready, you can move on to installing your first ESXi host.

Of course this is a basic list, even the 5 bullet points I listed could consume months of learning if you’re not familiar with VLANs, or for planning IP schemas. If you’ve read though this list and not overwhelmed, you shouldn’t have a problem virtualizing if you have not already.

Back to basics – Getting ready for virtualization

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February 3rd, 2015 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

**Please note that the installation steps here and requirements are based on beta and release versions of ESXi 6.**

Installing VMware ESXi 6 is just as straight forward as ever, of course you’ll want to make sure your hardware is on the VMware HCL and you meet the necessary system requirements:

  • 64-bit x86 processor with VT-x or AMD-V enabled in the BIOS
  • NX/XD enabled in the BIOS
  • Dual-core/dual processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 1GB of local storage

Of course those are minimums and you won’t get much virtualized with those specs, but alas that is likely fine for lab and testing purposes.  For the installation, I typically suggest USB or SD card.  This saves your physical disks, either locally or in a boot from SAN configuration free for VM related IO.  If you have local disks and flash based drives in your system, you can enable VSAN for example to provide shared storage in from the local storage in your hosts. There are other requirements for VSAN that I’ll touch on in another post (or check out yellow-bricks or cormachogan.com/)

The local storage is the bare minimum required. With only 1GB there are a few extra steps after the installation to define a location for log storage but its a simple step. If you want storage for log files as part of your boot media, you will need at least 5.2GB. When you reach the root password step, usually I start with something easy to type so when I log into the console interface (DCUI) after the installation and add the hosts to vCenter I’m not “infomercial bumbling” for the password. Later I can then rip a PowerCLI script through the environment to change to a more complex password.

Burn the ISO do a CD or mount it in your remote console (e.g UCS, iLO, DRAC or vSphere/Workstation/Fusion for your nested home lab) and power on the computer.

The ISO will launch into the installer:

  • Press Enter to start the installation wizard

1-esxi-6-install-welcome

  • Press F11 to accept the EULA
  • Select the disk you wish to install ESXi on to and press enter

2-esxi-6-install-select-disk

  • Select the keyboard layout and press enter
  • Enter your root password and press enter (at this point I tend to use something easy to type, just make sure to change later if you follow this)

3-esxi-6-install-password

  • Press F11 to start the installation

4-esxi-6-install-f11-install

  • Remove the installation media and press enter to reboot

Once you have restarted, you will be at the Direct Console User Interface, aka the DCUI. That is it, installing ESXi, assuming you have the prereqs in place is quite straight forward, configuration on the other hand – well that depends on your environment and your business requirements. If you are installing ESXi in your lab as a nested virtual machine you may also want to consider VMware Tools for ESXi.

Back to basics – Installing VMware ESXi 6

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