VCP 5 Objective 1.2 Install and Configure VMware ESXi

For this objective I used four documents:

  • vSphere Resource Management
  • vCenter Server and Host Management
  • vSphere Installation and Setup
  • Understanding Memory Management in VMware vSphere 5 White Paper

Objective 1.2 – Install and Configure VMware ESXi

Knowledge

Perform an interactive installation of ESXi

– ESXi can be installed either using CD/DVD or USB flash drive. Regardless of which media type you use, the following prerequisites should be applied:

  • Verify that the server hardware clock is set to UTC in the system BIOS
  • Verify that a keyboard and monitor are attached to the machine on which the ESXi software will be installed. Alternatively, use a remote management application
  • Consider disconnecting your network storage. This action decreases the time it takes the installation to search for available disk drives.

– I thought about including screen shots, but as I assume most are familiar with the ESXi installation s0 I will outline the general procedure:

    1. Place the CD/DVD into the ROM drive of the host or connect your USB flash drive that contains the ESXi installer files
    2. Boot the host (if needed set the appropriate BIOS boot order, CD/DVD drive or USB)
    3. Press Enter to select ESXi 5 Installer or allow the timer to finish counting down
    4. Press Enter on the “Welcome to the VMware ESXi 5.0.0 Installation” screen
    5. Read and press F11 to Accept the End User License Agreement (EULA)
    6. Highlight the appropriate disk on the “Select a Disk to Install or Upgrade” and press Enter to continue
    7. Select the appropriate keyboard layout, press Enter  to continue
    8. Set a root password (note this is not required but recommended), press Enter to continue
    9. Remove media and reboot the host system

Note for step 6 – If the drive you are installing to currently has an installation of ESXi you will be provided with additional choices:

      •  Upgrade ESXi, preserve VMFS datastore
      •  Install ESXi, preserve VMFS datastore
      •  Install ESXi, overwrite VMFS datastore

Select the appropriate option for your host installation and press Enter to continue

See pages 37 thru 40 of the vSphere Installation and Setup document for further information

Deploy an ESXi host using Auto Deploy

– vSphere Auto Deploy is a new feature of vSphere 5 that allows for provisioning ESXi hosts on a large scale. With this feature you are able to install ESXi on a new host (first boot), reboot hosts, or reimage an existing host with an upgraded image. The procedure to install on a new host (first boot):

  1. Power on the host – The host will attempt to contact the DHCP server and download the gPXE. The Auto Deploy server will install the new host with the image specified and apply a Host Profile if one is provided. To finish up, Auto Deploy will add the host to vCenter
  2. (Optional) – If Auto Deploy applies a host profile that requires user input such as an IP address, the host is placed in maintenance mode.

– This brief description is just a very small part of the functionality of Auto Deploy and also does not discuss the infrastructure setup to implement this feature. Refer to pages 57 thru 115 of the vSphere Installation and Setup document for further reading. Also, Duncan Epping @ Yellow-Bricks.com has an excellent write up on setting Auto Deploy in your home lab. Link is HERE.

Configure NTP on an ESXi Host

– Via the vSphere Client  you can configure the startup mode for the NTP service as well as list the hosts you wish to query:

  1. Within the vSphere Client select the host and click the Configuration tab
  2. Under Software select Time Configuration
  3. Click Properties in the upper right
  4. Click Options and select Start and stop with host
  5. In left hand pane you can select NTP Settings to add your list of NTP hosts
  6. Click OK

Configure DNS and Routing on an ESXi Host

Via the vSphere Client  you can configure the DNS servers your host will use as well as the default gateway:

  1. Within the vSphere Client select the host and click the Configuration tab
  2. Under Software select DNS and Routing
  3. Click Properties in the upper right
  4. Under Use the following DNS server address set your DNS servers
  5. Click the Routing tab
  6. Specify the default gateway for the VMkernel
  7. Click OK

Enable/Configure/Disable hyperthreading

– Via the vSphere Client  you can configure host for hyperthreading:

  1. Within the vSphere Client select the host and click the Configuration tab
  2. Under Hardware select Processors
  3. Click Properties in the upper right
  4. Select or Deselect Enable Hyperthreading
  5. Click OK

Note – For this option to be available your CPU’s need to support hyperthreading and it needs to be enabled in the system BIOS

Enable/Size/Disable memory compression cache

– One of the memory management techniques ESXi  uses is Memory Compression. When a given ESXi host is under memory strain ESXi will compress virtual pages and store them in memory. Using this memory management technique allows for better performance then accessing memory that has been swapped to disk. You can also set the size of the compression cache as percentage of the assigned memory to a VM.

Enable/Disable Memory Compression

  1. Within the vSphere Client select the host and click the Configuration tab
  2. Under Software select Advanced Settings
  3. In the left hand pane select Mem and scroll down till you find Mem.MemZipEnable
  4. The default value is 1 (enabled), to disable change the value to 0 (disabled)
  5. Click OK

Sizing the Memory Compression Cache

  1. Within the vSphere Client select the host and click the Configuration tab
  2. Under Software select Advanced Settings
  3. In the left hand pane select Mem and scroll down till you find Mem.MemZipMaxPct
  4. The default value is 10 with a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 100. Set the value to desired percentage
  5. Click OK

Refer to the Understanding Memory Management in VMware vSphere 5 White Paper for further information on Memory Compression as well as the other memory reclamation techinques used by ESXi 5.

License an ESXi host

– You can assign a license to a host in one of two ways, either with using vCenter Server or without.

With vCenter Server

  1. Within the vSphere Client click Inventory in the navigation bar
  2. Expand the inventory tree and select the location were you would like to add the new host
  3. Right-click and select Add Host
  4. When completing the Add New Host Wizard at the licensing screen allocate an existing license key or add a new key if needed

Without vCenter Server

  1. Within the vSphere Client select the host and click the Configuration tab
  2. Under Software select Licensed Features
  3. Click Edit in the upper right hand corner
  4. 4.       Configure a license key either with an existing key or select Assign a new key to this host
  5. 5.       Click OK

For further information about ESXi licensing refer to pages 65 thru 94 of the vCenter Server and Host Management documentation

  • VMware vSphere Basics guide
  • vSphere Installation and Setup Guide
  • vCenter Server and Host Management guide

Tools

  • VMware vSphere Basics guide
  • vSphere Installation and Setup Guide
  • vCenter Server and Host Management guide