HOW TO: Create your first Windows Virtual Machine on a VMware vSphere Hypervisor 6.5 (ESXi 6.5) Host Server

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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)
MVE^2, Expert of the Year 2017-2011, Scribe 2016-2012, Author of the Year 2018-6,2013-2012 VMware vExpert 2019-2011 30 years of experience.
In this article, I will show you HOW TO: Create your first Windows Virtual Machine on a VMware vSphere Hypervisor 6.5 (ESXi 6.5) Host Server, the Windows OS we will install is Windows Server 2016.
In my previous Experts Exchange Articles, most have featured Basic and Intermediate VMware and Virtualisation Topics. 

If you would like to read my Basic VMware articles, they are listed at the end of this article for your convenience.

In this series of basic VMware articles for the Novice, I'll be showing you the basic VMware skills required to install, configure and deploy virtual machines using VMware's FREE VMware vSphere Hypervisor (ESXi).

In this article we will show you HOW TO: Create your first Windows Virtual Machine on a VMware vSphere Hypervisor 6.5 (ESXi 6.5) Host Server uisng the VMware Host Client. This procedure can be followed to install ANY Microsoft Windows Virtual Machines on earlier versions of VMware vSphere provided they are supported by the version of VMware vSphere. You may want to consult the the VMware Hardware Comparability Lists or HCL, see here.

1. Connect to the VMware vSphere Hypervisor 6.5 (ESXi 6.5) or vSphere vCenter Server using the VMware Host or vSphere Web Client

Please see my previous article - HOW TO: Connect to the VMware vSphere Hypervisor 6.5 (ESXi 6.5) using the vSphere (HTML5 Web) Host Client 6.5​


2. Upload the Windows operating system ISO image file to the VMFS datastore

Please refer to my EE article on HOW TO: Upload an ISO image to a VMware datastore for use with VMware vSphere Hypervisor 6.5 (ESXi 6.5) using the vSphere Host Client, and checking its MD5 checksum signature is correct.

If you have already downloaded a Windows operating system as an ISO image file from the internet (MSDN - Microsoft Developer Network or Microsoft Technet), there is no need to create new iso image file, if you have physical CD-ROM or DVD-ROM Windows media; Please refer to my EE article on HOW TO: Create an ISO CD-ROM/DVD-ROM image (*.iso), and MD5 checksum signature, for use with VMware vSphere Hypervisor 6.5 (ESXi 6.5)

In this example, we will use Microsoft Windows Server 2016, this can be uploaded to the datastore, esx001_local1_vmfs6, using the previous EE Article - HOW TO: Upload an ISO image to a VMware datastore for use with VMware vSphere Hypervisor 6.5 (ESXi 6.5) using the vSphere Host Client, and checking its MD5 checksum signature is correct.

Please note and check the VMware Hardware Comparability Lists (HCL) here, to check your Operating System is compatible with VMware vSphere. Many operating systems fail to install because the operating system is not supported by the version of VMware vSphere being used. In the following screenshot from the HCL, we can clearly see this is supported for the version of VMware vSphere 6.5 we are using in this tutorial.

3. Creating the Windows Virtual Machine

Right Click Virtual Machine and select Create/Register VM. This will open up a wizard and guide you through the process of creating the virtual machine configuration.

https___esx001.cyrus-consultants.co..jpgAfter selecting Create New Virtual Machine, the Create New Virtual Machine dialogue box and wizard will be displayed. This allows you to specify your requirements for the virtual machine, the number of processors, the amount of memory, storage required, and network card, these are the basic requirements, which are needed to create a virtual machine. Take a few minutes to think about your virtual machine requirements,  Ask yourself the question - What would you specify when purchasing a physical machine or server? These values can be changed and amended later, e.g. add additional processors, increase memory or storage space. It's much easier to grow storage than reduce it later, so my advice would be to start small, and later grow your resources, by looking at the performance of the virtual machine. In a previous EE Article, we discuss performance, see here HOW TO:  Performance Monitor vSphere 4.x or 5.0. This is one of the many advantages of virtual machines, we have greater flexibility to add and remove resources, compared to a physical computer or server.We also have very fine controls, or granular controls over machine specifications, e.g. memory, most memory components in physical servers today are in 1GB DIMM increments, using virtualization, we can increase memory in 256MB or 512MB increments! This is not easy to complete with physical computers, we cannot cut a memory DIMM in half! https___esx001.cyrus-consultants.co..jpgThe Create Virtual Machine Wizard, creates the configuration or template for us to install our operating system later. It includes some specification templates, based on the vendors minimum requirements for the Operating System selected.

Select Create a new virtual machine followed by next.

Edit-Article-000370.jpgEnter a Name for the virtual machine and Click Next.

This is the name which will appear in the inventory, this is not to be confused with the operating systems hostname, which will be set, when we install the operating system. In the example I have entered the name "My First Windows VM".

Select the Guest OS Family, and Guest OS version. Leave the Compatibility set to ESXi 6.5 virtual machine. Click Next to continue.Click Next to continue, select the datastore to store the virtual machine configuration files and virtual disks and click Next to continue through the wizard

In my previous EE articles, we discussed datastore creation see here

HOW TO: Install and Configure VMware vSphere Hypervisor 6.5 (ESXi 6.5)

HOW TO: Connect to the VMware vSphere Hypervisor 6.5 (ESXi 6.5) using the vSphere (HTML5 Web) Host Client 6.5

Edit-Article-000371.jpgSelect the storage datastore to use to storage the virtual machine, followed by Next.

https___esx001.cyrus-consultants.co..jpgCustomize Settings - Configure the virtual machine hardware and virtual machine additional options, and click Next to continue. Make sure you select the Datastore iso, you have already uploaded.

https___esx001.cyrus-consultants.co..jpgSelect the required virtual disk size, this is the size of the disk for the operating system installation. A default size is provided based on vendors minimum recommendations. Please note, it's very easy to increase the disk size of a virtual machine after installation, please see my previous EE Article HOW TO:  Resize a VMware (VMDK) Virtual Disk, However it's more difficult to shrink a virtual disk. So we would always recommend, starting small and growing later. The only VMware supported procedure to shrink a virtual disk, is to use VMware vCenter Converter Standalone, and create a V2V, which is also covered in my previous EE Articles listed here

HOW TO:  Synchronize changes when completing a P2V or V2V with VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 5.1

HOW TO:  P2V, V2V for FREE - VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 6.1

Click Finish to create the virtual machine configuration.

https___esx001.cyrus-consultants.co..jpg The virtual machine will be created.If you check the Host Inventory, you will see your Virtual Machine - "My First Windows VM" listed in the inventory. 

4. Installing Microsoft Windows Server 2016 Operating System in the Virtual Machine

Installing the Microsoft Windows Server 2016 Operating System in the virtual machine hosted on the VMware vSphere Hypervisor 6.5.1 (ESXi 6.5) Host Server is very similar, to installing the Microsoft Windows Server 2016 Operating System on a physical computer or server, with a few differences, which we will list below.

The very first time a virtual machines boots, its' BOOT order in the CMOS BIOS is set to CD-ROM. After the installation has been successful, this is reset to Hard Disk.

Right-Click the virtual machine "My First Windows VM" and Select Power On. The virtual machine should automatically boot from the CD-ROM ISO image file. Then select the Console function so you can interact with the virtual machine. 

https___esx001.cyrus-consultants.co..jpgThe virtual machine should automatically boot from the CD-ROM/DVD-ROM ISO image file. The Console function is similar to the Keyboard/Video Machine (KVM) function in a datacentre, which allows you to toggle between console screens of computers, it allows you to interact with the virtual machine, with keyboard and mouse movements, and displays the screen. The Microsoft Windows Server 2016 installation start up process

https___esx001.cyrus-consultants.co..jpghttps___esx001.cyrus-consultants.co..jpgSelect the Language to install, Time and currency format, and Keyboard or input method; and Click Next to continue.
https___esx001.cyrus-consultants.co..jpgLanguage and Keyboard Selected
https___esx001.cyrus-consultants.co..jpgClick Install
https___esx001.cyrus-consultants.co..jpgThe following screen will be displayed - Setup is starting
https___esx001.cyrus-consultants.co..jpgEnter Product Key when prompted or Skip it, and add it later.
https___esx001.cyrus-consultants.co..jpgSelect the required version to install. I am going to install Windows Server 2016 Standard (Desktop Experience) e.g. with a GUI.
https___esx001.cyrus-consultants.co..jpgAccept the License Terms by ticking the box, and select Next to continue the installation
https___esx001.cyrus-consultants.co..jpgAs this is a new operating system, we are installing, select Custom: Install Windows only (advanced).
https___esx001.cyrus-consultants.co..jpgSelect the disk drive location for the operating system installation followed by Next
https___esx001.cyrus-consultants.co..jpgInstalling Windows will start and copy files from the media to the virtual machine hard diskhttps___esx001.cyrus-consultants.co..jpghttps___esx001.cyrus-consultants.co..jpghttps___esx001.cyrus-consultants.co..jpghttps___esx001.cyrus-consultants.co..jpgLocked_-000403.jpgAfter the installation restarts, Windows will restart several times setting up devices
Locked_-000404.jpgType a password to be used as the Local Administrator password for the server, followed by Finish.
Locked_-000405.jpgThe Windows Server 2016 logon screen will appear.
Locked_-000406.jpgCongratulations, you have successfully Created your first Windows Virtual Machine on a VMware vSphere Hypervisor 6.5 (ESXi 6.5) Host Server

It is recommended to install VMware Tools in the virtual machine.  Please see my next article in this series HOW TO: Install VMware Tools for Windows on a VMware Windows virtual machine

Basic VMware Articles Series: 
These articles are also applicable to VMware vSphere Hypervisor ESXi 5.0, 5.5 and 6.0.
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