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vSphere Lab Build Out – The ESXi Server Deployment

Finally, after getting the domain controller and client built now it’s on to actually deploying ESXi!

You can download eval copies of VMware software directly from VMware (after creating an account) here:

You can also register for the VMware User Group’s VMUG Advatage program and get access to 365-day trial licenses.  More info on the VMUG Advantage program can be found here:

After getting the ESXi ISO downloaded we can start the VM builds

VM Creation

  1. In VMware Workstation press CTRL+N to open the New Virtual Machine Wizard, and make sure Typical is selected, then click Next
  2. Select the ISO that was downloaded and click Next
    1. I’m still using Workstation 15.5, and installing ESXi 7.0, so it doesn’t autodetect the OS
  3. Select VMware ESX, and in the drop down select VMware ESXi 6.x, then click Next
  4. Name the VM, and change the location (if needed) then click Next
  5. The default storage of 40GB is more than enough.  The hosts will be configured to connect to an iSCSI target, so leave the default and click Next.
  6. Click Customize Hardware
  7. Configure the hardware.  
    1. Since these will be the virtualization hosts allocate as much CPU and RAM as you can. 
    2. When setting the CPU count verify the box is checked for Virtualize Intel VT-x/EPT or AMD-V/RVI
    3. Set the NIC to Bridged
    4. Click Close
  8. Click Finish

ESX installation

  1. Power on the VM
  2. The VM should automatically boot from the ISO, and it will take a moment to load everything
  3. When prompted to start the install press Enter to continue.
  4. Make sure to read the EULA in its entirety, and if you accept it press F11 to move on.
  5. By default the hard drive created with the VM will be present and selected.  Press Enter again to continue.
  6. Select the correct keyboard layout, and again press Enter to continue.
  7. Type in a password, and then press Tab to re-enter the password to confirm it.  Then press Enter to continue.
  8. Finally, press F11 to confirm the configuration and begin the installation.
  9. The install is fairly quick.  When it is done press Enter to reboot.
  10. It will take a little while for the VM to reboot and come back up.
Initial ESX configuration
  1. At the main screen press F2 to Customize System.
  2. Enter the credentials and press Enter 
    1. Remember, the username is: root
    2. The password is what was entered during the initial set up
  3. In the System Customization window use the Down Arrow to highlight (or is it blacklight? lowlight?) Configure Management Network and press Enter.
  4. Select IPv4 Configuration and press Enter
  5. Select DNS Configuration and press Enter to open the DNS options.
  6. Use the Down Arrow to highlight “Use the following DNS Server…” and press Space to select that, then use the Down Arrow to enter the DNS server address information.  Use the IP of the DNS server that was created for the lab.  Also, type in the the FQDN that matches the DNS record created.  Press Enter to submit these changes.
  7. Again, use the down arrow to select Custom DNS Suffixes (I’m not adding a screenshot since there’s already two for the same page)
  8. Enter the lab domain name and press Enter.
  9. Press Escape to exit the configuration menu, then press Y to accept the changes and restart the management network.
  10. (Optional) Test the management network to verify things work.  It should return OK if everything works as expected.
This completes the configuration of the first ESXi host.  This process can be repeated to create a second host, which will allow the creation of an HA cluster.

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