Nested Home Lab – Part 9 – Deploying a Nested ESXi Host

Carrying on with our VSAN enabled nested environment, we’ll be deploying our new hosts using the VCSA and the web client and not the C# client. Reason? Well we will be setting specific parameters for the vCPU to pass through the virtualization extensions. otherwise we will need to do this by editing the VMX file.
Now that we have the networking in place that we configured in the previous post we’ll go on to deploy three ESXi VM’s.
Each host should have the following spec:
  • 2 X CPU or cores (Min requirement for ESXi)
  • 6GB Ram (Min requirement for VSAN)
  • 2 X Nics on the VM Network
  • 2 X Nics of the LAN Network
  • 1 X 10g HDD disk (ESXi install)
  • 1 X SSD disk for the caching tier.
  • 1 X HDD for data Tier.


The VSAN disk configuration of my nested ESXi servers is:
  • 1 X 40GB SSD
  • 1 X 100GB HDD
This configuration worked for me ask I was able to run a couple of smaller VM’s in my nested environment. I was also able to add a second 100GB HDD to continue to test VSAN functionality, such as striping and disk policies.

Installing a nested ESXi host.

1.   Log in using an account that has permission to configure the environment.

 2.  Select Home and the Hosts and Clusters

3.   Select the Hosts and Clusters icon and then select your primary host, right click and Select New Virtual Machine and New Virtual Machine.

4.   Select the Create New Virtual Machine and Click Next.

5.   Give the Virtual Machine a name and select the Datacenter we created in Part 7 and Click Next.

6. Select your physical host for the Compute Resource and Click Next.

6. Select the disk you want to run the ESXi host on and Click Next. If you have both a SSD and a HDD look to put the primary disk on the HDD. Once ESXi boots it runs mostly in memory.

7. Select Compatable With: ESXi 6.0 and later and Click Next.

7. Guest OS Family set to Other and Guest OS Version: Version ESXi 6.x and Click Next.

8. Ok so a fair bit to do here:
8.1. Set the VM to have two cores and one CPU. This will save on licensing if you have a VMUG advantage subscription. In addition you need to tick the Hardware Virtualization check box to pass through the additional virtualization features of the CPU. If you don’t you’ll get an error during install.
8.2. 6 GB Ram as the minimum supported with VSAN enabled nodes.
8.3. Your first HDD reduce to 10GB
8.4. Add three additional Nic’s. Set them in this order. NIC 1 and NIC2 on the VM Network, NIC 3 and NIC4 on the LAN Network. Ensure that you set you NIC type to VMXNET3.
8.5. Add two disks. One SSD and One HDD. The SSD can be small,10GB, if required. and the HDD should be at least 50GB. If you don’t have an SSD, have a look at the end of this post and I’ll include a link to instructions which will show you how to “fool” ESXi into thinking you have a SSD when you don’t.
8.6. Add the ESXi ISO to the new CD/DVD Drive, check the Connect Check box.
8.6. Click Next,

9. Review your changes and click Next.

A brief pause here to look at what we’ve built. One ESXi VM with the components necessary for to to be a part of a VSAN cluster. 

10. Power on the VM. Right Click the VM and select Power On.

11. Open a console to the VM. (Click Launch Remote Console).

12. Boot Strapping and kernel goodness loading

11. More goodness

12. Press Enter

13. Press F11

14. Select the small 10GB disk (not the SSD).

15. Choose your keyboard type and press Enter.

16. Enter in your root password and confirm.

17. Scanning

18.1 This error will appear if you have not set the Hardware Virtualization Flag in the CPU settings of the VM and you’ll need to go back and set it.

 18.2 Example of the Settings.

19. Press F11.

20. Installing.

21. Press Enter 

22. VM rebooting.

There we go one working ESXi VM. Now we are going to need another two of these to make up the three minimum required for VSAN.
To mark a disk as SSD; This is one way to do it and this is another I’ve tried both methods and they work. I personally prefer William Lam’s method.

Nested Home Lab – Part 8 – Primary Host networking

So in the previous post we added our primary host to the vcsa we built in part 4. Before we build our first virtualized ESXi host we need to add a single standard virtual switch. The foundation for this is discussed in part 2, please take a moment to read it as we’ll be using some of those details.

We want the primary network layer to look like the diagram below. two standard switches. vSwitch0 will already have been created by default and you’ll have a few VM in the VM Network already. The second, vSwitch1, will have only one port group, which I have called LAN. This port is going to be trunked to all VLANs. In addition we’ll also set the configuration for VM Network so that nested ESXi servers pass traffic from their nested VM’s correctly.

Configuring the networking for the VM Network port group.

1.     Log in using an account that has permission to configure the environment.

 2.     Select Home and the Hosts and Clusters

3.     Select the Hosts and Clusters icon and then select your primary host.

4. In the right hand pane:
4.1 Click Manage.
4.2 Click Networking.
4.3 Click Virtual Switches.
4.4 Click the “VM Network” port group and click the edit icon.

5. In the Edit Settings windows:
5.1 Select Security
5.2 Tick the boxes to override Promiscuous Mode and Forged Transmits.
5.3 Set Promiscuous Mode and Forged Transmits to Accept.
5.4 Click OK.

That’s the VM network setup. Now we want to setup a new vSwitch with a single port with the same security settings as above.

1. Carrying on from above. Select the icon to create a new standard vSwitch.

2. Select Virtual Machine Port Group for a Standard Switch. Click Next

3. Select New standard switch. Select Next

4. Select Next.

5. Click Next. This warning is just to let you know that the switch doesn’t have any physical NIC’s associated with it, which is fine for our lab.

5. Name the virual port group (I chose LAN) and set the VLAN ID to 4095. VLAN 4095 is the promiscuous vlan. Click Next

6. Select Next.

7. A new standard virtual switch has been created. You still need to configure the security settings of the switch following the process above.

We now have everything we need to install the virtual ESXi servers (post 8) and VSAN (post 9).

Nested Home Lab – Part 7 – Creating a Datacenter and Adding a host.

In today’s post we’ll look at adding your primary ESXi host (this is the host that holds your nested environment) to the vCenter server and configuring it up. 
Just before we add the primary host we’ll be needing a Datacenter.
1.     Log in using an account that has permission to configure the environment.
2.     Select Home and the Hosts and Clusters
3.     Right click on the VCSA we created and select New Datacenter.

4.     Give it a logical name and click OK.

Now to add the primary host.
1.     Right click the newly created Datacenter and select Add Host.
2.     Add in the hostname or IP address of the Primary host and select Next.
3.     Enter in the Username (most likely root) and the password you use to administer this host. Click Next.
4.     Check the host summary and click Next. Note that I already have some VM’s created and they have shown up in the Virtual Machines pane.
5.     Select a license key, if you have one installed. Click Next.
6.     Leave lock down mode disable for now. In later posts we’ll be ssh’ing into the hosts to do a few things and have a poke around. It’s usually my preference to leave lockdown mode disabled unless I have a specific reason not to do so.
7.     Select your Datacenter and click Next.
8.     Review the host detail and select Finish.
OK so now we’ve added the first host we’ll want to setup networking (next post) for our nested hosts. Just before we get into that, have a look the Mac learning fling here and William Lam’s blog post about it here. I would recommend getting that installed.