Part 4 – Install Linux and Windows Virtual guests within ESXi and create OVF templates to reduce deployment time

In this step we will install a Windows and Linx operating systems and use them as templates to further deploy other instances of these operating systems in order to minimize deployment time. This entry will not show how to install individual Operating Systems. It will show the principle behind it.  Important to remember is that we are not installing these Operating Systems in VMware Workstation but within VMware ESXi and as such a different method of installation is needed. We will need to install the v-Sphere in order to manage our ESXi server. In order to obtain this tool you will have to point your browser to the IP address of your VMWare ESXi server and download the v-Sphere client.  Once you reach that web site select Download vSphere Client.

Please also note that you will have to install the client on an actual Physical Windows machine in order to use it. It is my experience that vSphere is problematic when installed in a Virtual Windows Operating System.

Here is a screenshot of how my ESXi environment looks like from V-Sphere.


 Steps to install your virtual Operating System

1) Installing an operating system guest from V-Sphere to ESXi

You can choose to create a Resource Pool or you can choose not to. However it is highly recommended that if you set a resource pool for your Guest Operating System to not set any limits in resources for it, unless of course you are absolutely sure you know what you are doing. You can create a resource pool by right clicking on your host and select “Create a New Resource Pool”. In the same menu you can also choose to create a New Virtual Machine. In my setup I have created two Resource Pools but I have not set any limitations to them. They only serve so I can easily separate my Linux virtual machines from my Windows virtual machines.



2) Select New Virtual Machine and on the next dialogue select Custom.

3) Enter the name of your Virtual Server. Note that will not be the hostname given to your Operating System. This name is used by ESXi. It is a good idea to give the same name as the hostname the guest Operating System will have to make it much easier to administer the guest machines.
4) On the next step you can decide if you want to assign your virtual machine to a resource pool or not.
5) On the next step you can decide on which datastore you want to put your virtual guest one.
6) On this step you can select if you want to deal with any legacy technology or not. For this project I am choosing to ignore all legacy options because I have no need for them.
7) On the next step you can choose what Operating System you want to install. You can choose to install a variety of Linux distributions, Windows versions and other Operating Systems such as Apple, FreeBSD, Unix SCO, Solari and so on.
8) Next you will be prompted to choose the number of CPU and/or Cores you want the virtual machine to use. The limits of these values are set by your actual CPU on your host. For this little project all of my virtual machines have one Virtual socket assigned to them and 8 Cores assigned to them. The main reason this feature is set is because of licensing issues. If there is one license per socket then you can opt to use multiple cores.
9) On this next step you can assign the amount of RAM dedicated to your virtual machine. Common sense rules need to be applied here. If the guest machine is given the maximum amount of RAM the host has, this will create issues for the host it self where the virtual machines reside on and will severely limit your options with the creation of new virtual machines. Memory Ballooning will be a dominant issue. For this project almost all of my virtual machines use 1Gig of RAM. However the SQL server machines (MS-SQL and Oracle) use 1.5 Gigs of RAM.
10) Here you can assign a virtual NIC to your virtual machine. You can have multiple virtual NICs and each one of them can belong to a different network. For now we will use the default options.
11) Next you will have to choose your SCSI controller. The default option given by VMware is being used for this project which is VMware Paravirtual which also yields the highest performance.
12) Next step wil be to choose the size of your Virtual Hard drive. All of the virtual machines for this project have a 200GB hard drive space allocated to them. Thick Provision Eager Zeroed is selected for all virtual machines because it yields the highest performance.
13) This step requires no changes. Select the Defaults VMware provides.
14) On the next step review your setup and select Finish if everything good to go. Do no take the values shown below for granted. This was just a mock installation to provide an example.
15) Power up the virtual machine. This will boot up the virtual machine and will go into BIOS for that virtual server. As an actual PC if there is an Operating System is not installed the machine will not be able to go pass POST.
16) You will now attach the ISO image of the Operating system so V-Sphere will be able to install it. You can either select to attach your DVD drive or the actual ISO image that may reside on your hard drive. For this project ISOs files are being used directly to avoid hardware use and tear and for also faster installs. Once the ISO is attached press ENTER with in the window of your virtual machine in order to proceed.
17) Then you can continue with the installation of your Operating System 🙂

 Creating an OVF template.

1) Open your Vsphere client.  Select the Virtual machine you wish to create an OVF template. Then go to File – Export – OVF template . Select the location of where you wish to store this OVF for feature use.

2) Wait for OVF templates to be completed. In my case I create three OVFs as shown below in the screenshot.

Deploying an OVF teamplate

1) Open your Vsphere center. Go to File and select Deploy OVF template.  Select the OVF you wish to deploy.

2) Give it a name. This name will be shown in your ESXi virtual inventory. This is not the Hostname for your Virtual Machine.

3) Select under which Resource Pool it will go under; if you defined one that is.

4) Select if you wish the type of Disk Provisioning.  Thick and Eager Provision provides the biggest performance at the cost of Hard Drive space. Thin provisioning provides less performance but saves Hard Drive space.

5)  Review your settings at the final window and press Finish.

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