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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December 30th, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

In my last video, we walked through how to install VMware Tools for CentOS 6.x. Now we are going to prepare the virtual machine for cloning. This requires we remove a specific file; /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules. This file contains the MAC address for the virtual machine. Once removed, the file will be created during the initial boot with the matching MAC address for the cloned virtual machine.

Prepare CentOS 6.x virtual machine for cloning

Video: Prepare CentOS 6.x virtual machine for cloning

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December 28th, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

This is a video demonstration on installing VMware Tools in CentOS 6.x. The assumptions for this walk through are you have access to VMware Workstation or the vSphere Client to initiate the VMware Tools installation and at least 1 E1000 network card to provide internet access. VMware Tools is needed for VMXNET3, so you will at least initially need an E1000 to provide network access for Perl, or local Perl installers to run the installer.

VMware Tools Installation Walk Through

Video: Installing VMware Tools in CentOS 6.x

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November 15th, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

I was going to do a post on NFS versus iSCSI, to be honest that is such old hat in my opinion it doesn’t really matter.  Whether you use iSCSI or NFS is up to you, your application and business requirements along with any constraints in your infrastructure that may force you to lean one way or another.  Since I am an NFS networking ninja, clearly I am going to go the NFS route.  Let’s get started on setting up NFS, if you are not already log into your Synology DSM.

  • Click on the main menu button on the upper left and open Control Panel
  • Click on the File Services icon
  • I have no need for CIFS or AFP at this time so I am going to disable those; expand the Windows File Service section and uncheck Enable Windows File Service; repeat for Mac File Service
  • Expand NFS service and check enable NFS
  • Click the Apply button
  • In the left navigation window click on Shared Folder
  • Click the create button
  • Provide the necessary details for your folder I am naming my folder vxprt-silver01-ds01 which will be on the SATA drives; click OK
  • Click on the NFS permissions tab and click the Create button
  • In the hostname/IP field enter the range for your ESXi hosts, in my case its all the same network so
  • Click OK twice
  • Make note of the mount path value, we’ll need that later
  • Repeat for the folder on the SSD volume, I am naming htis folder vxprt-gold01-ds01
  • You should now have two folders created
Synology NFS shares created in DSM

Synology NFS shares created in DSM

Next I need to connect to my NFS share from the ESXi hosts.  Typically I’d have NFS on its on VLAN, but sans a switch in my home lab to VLANs it will be riding with all my other network traffic.

  • Log into the vCenter Web Client
  • Click on vCenter >> Hosts and Clusters
  • Select your cluster, click on the Related Objects tab >> Datastores
  • Click the icon to add a new datastore, click Next
  • Select next NFS and click Next
  • Enter the datastore name, in my case vxprt-silver01-ds01
  • Enter the server IP address and the path you note in the previous section, in my case /volume1/vxprt-silver01-ds01 – click next
  • Select both/all hosts in the cluster you want to have access and click next then finish

The datastore should now be available on both hosts (Click on the host >> related objects >> datastores) as seen below.  Repeat for the gold datastore.


Now that the datastores are created, I am going to create an “ISO” folder on the silver datastore to hold my linux ISOs and build virtual machines in vCenter.

Setting up NFS on the Synology Diskstation 1513+ for ESXi

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November 12th, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

So you’ve got vCenter up and running and hosts added, it’s time to enable the cool things vCenter can do – namely vMotion, HA and DRS.  I’ve gone back and forth on how I wanted to present vMotion and networking in the home lab.  On one hand many existing deployments are likely running 1Gbps, though newer ones are likely to start with 10Gbps as prices have dropped.  After a quick Twitter chat I decided to move forward as I would if I had 10Gbps networking and not have separate physical interfaces in my host for different traffic types.

When we setup our ESXi templates there was only a single NIC, let’s add a 2nd NIC to the VM’s.  For purposes of this labs (and maybe I’m still old like this) I will keep my management network on a standard switch and my VM network and vMotion traffic on a distributed switch.

  • Right click on your ESXi virtual machine and select settings
  • Click the Add… button and select Network Adapter
  • Select NAT, click Finish and click OK
  • Restart the host from vCenter (right click and select reboot) or from the DCUI (F12 >> root password >> F11)

Once the ESXi virtual machine has been restarted, you should see two interfaces in the vSphere Web Client.  Repeat for your 2nd host.

Virtual ESXi hosts with two nics

Virtual ESXi hosts with two nics

In the vSphere Web Client, click on the network tab in the navigator so we can create the VDS.

  • Right click on dc01 and select New Distributed Port Groups…
  • Name the port group vmotion and click next
  • Keep the defaults and click next, then finish, we’ll use this port group in a bit
  • Right click on dc01 and select New Distributed Switch
  • Name your switch, if you’ve not caught on yet I like short names so my VDS will be called vds0101 (Now wait I thought it was going to just be vds01…why 4 digits all of a sudden!  Easy, its VDS #1 (vds01) in datacenter 01 vds0101 :) )
  • Select your VDS version, I will go with 5.5
  • I’ll keep defaults the rest of the way here even though I only have 1 uplink right now available in my hosts, next, next finish.
  • Right click on the VDS and select Add and Manage Hosts
  • Select Add Hosts and click Next
  • Click the + New Hosts button
  • Select both hosts, click OK then click Next
  • Keep Manage Physical Adapters and Manage VMkernel adapters selected and click next
  • If you’ve followed along here, you should have vmnic1 not connected to any switch so far, that is what we will use for the VDS uplink.  Select vmnic1, click assign uplink
  • Assign to Uplink 1 and click OK; repeat for all hosts
VDS Assign Uplink

VDS Assign Uplink

  • With vmnic1 assigned to the VDS click next
  • On step 5, Manage VMKernel network adapters, you will see that we only have the existing VMkernel adapters that are currently used for management on the standard switch, no worries we can create a VMkernel interface from this page that we will assign vMotion traffic to
  • Select vxprt-esxi01 and click on + New Adapter
  • Click the browse button, select vmotion and click OK, then click next
  • Under enable services click the Enable vMotion Traffic checkbox and click Next
  • Assign an IP address from your IP space, typically you have a separate VLAN defined for vMotion traffic on your switch so you might have a management IP address of for vxprt-esxi01, my vMotion IP might be (I like my last octet to match so vxprt-esx01 would always have a last octet of .11 in any VLAN it is a part of).  In this case I am going to jump into the space so I will assign to this interface, for vxprt-esx02 and so on.  Again in the lab I’m not likely to have more than a few ESXi hosts so I’m not to worried about going into the 250s
  • Repeat for vxprt-esxi02
  • Make sure vmk0 is set to Do not migrate and click Next
  • On the analyze impact it should be no impact, click next then finish

Your hosts will be added to the VDS and vMotion will be enabled on the newly created VMkernel adapter.  To test, I have created an empty virtual machine on vxprt-esxi02 in the silver datastore, I am going to vMotion and Storage vMotion that virtual machine to vxprt-esxi01.  Here you can see the screenshot



  • Now, right click on the virtual machine and select migrate
  • Select Change both the host and datastore (we don’t have shared storage setup yet)
  • Select the cluster and click next
  • Select vxprt-esxi01 and click next
  • Select vxprt-esxi01-silver-local and click next
  • Click finish

You can see the progress of the vMotion in the Running Tasks window.  After a few minutes you should now see your virtual machine on vxprt-esxi01

VM on new host after vMotion

VM on new host after vMotion

vMotion Setup – VMware Workstation Home Lab Setup Part 13

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