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What is the setup process for upgrading a network with new hardware and VMware?

Posted on 2011-03-12
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We are now running a whitebox server with SBS 2003 R2 and Exchange 2003 and sevral other applications.  Since the box is reaching its end cycle, we were planning on upgrading our servers and apps to the latest.  We plan on running Windows 2008 and VMware 4.1.  We plan on having two hosts for redundancy and a SAN to keep store of everything.  What gets installed first on the host?  Is it Windows or VMware?  I noticed that servers come preinstalled with embedded ESXi.  If this is the case, how does the Windows get applied?  Do I create a VM and install the Windows onto it?  Does Windows get installed on the host or the SAN?  If Windows is a VM how to I install other applications as VMs?  Do I create a new VM and then use WIndows as a guest OS?  How does that work if Windows is a VM?  DO I have to configure Windows and ESXi side by side?  Can you explain the procedure in steps what goes first and how and why?  I am stump about how Windows comes into play.
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Question by:j_rameses
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patkremer earned 364 total points
ID: 35116058
ESX is an operating system that runs directly on the server bare metal. Your Windows guests run inside the ESX operating system.

You have to do a mental shift and think of a virtual machine as a process. If you are running Windows on your PC and you open up Word, you are running the Word application as a process within your Windows operating system. The Word application is made up of a bunch of files and is taking up a certain amount of hard drive space, The files have different purposes - you have .exe files that actually run, you have .dll files for shared libaries, etc. When you run Word it takes up a certain amount of RAM and CPU cycles.

ESX is designed to run entire guest operating systems. ESX sees your Windows virtual machine as nothing more than a process. Each guest operating system is made up of a bunch of files and takes up a certain amount of hard drive (SAN) space. The files have different purposes - you have large .vmdk files that store your virtual disks, a .vmx file that stores the configuration of your virtual machine, and an .nvram file that stores your virtual BIOS configuration.  When the virtual machine is running it takes up a certain amount of RAM and CPU cycles.

So you present SAN LUNs to your ESXi host. You format the LUNs into VMFS Datastores. This is the same idea as formatting a LUN with a Windows NTFS filesystem - the VMFS filesystem is what ESXi users to store all its files.

Once you have a datastore, you create a new virtual machine and install Windows inside it. You have the ability to attach a standard .iso file to the virtual machine's CD drive and boot the VM from your installation .iso file

If your company will spring for it, I would recommend attending the Install Configure Manage course from VMware. This is complex stuff and you can easily get into a huge mess if you don't know what you're doing.
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE) earned 66 total points
ID: 35116068
you also need to check the hardware you purchase is on the VMware Hardware Compatibility List, or work with a VMware Partner or Consultancy that can do the work and train you.

http://www.vmware.com/go/hcl
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by:j_rameses
ID: 35116120
I attended the course, just finished it on Friday.  Still a bit confused on how Windows is involved.  For every VM we create for an app we must associate a guest OS, correct?  I am perplexed because Windows is a VM.  I understood a lot from the course.  Its just the beginning stuff - Windows.   Right now I use Windows to do everything.  But, are you saying that I no longer use Windows but instead ESXi?  If I have 15 VMs, that means all VMs have Windows as their guest OS if I only installed one OS?  If I update the OS VM that gets reflected on the guest OS?  Do I do a full install of Windows on the VM as if I was doing it on a new box and not using VMware?  Regarding the .iso, what do you mean?  Do I convert first the Windows cd/dvd into an .iso and place that on the datastore with other .iso files?  Do I then create a VM and call it Windows 2008 and point it to the .iso to install?  Do I do a normal install as if I was doing it to a new box without VMware?  Or is it a different type of install?
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by:j_rameses
ID: 35116145
Does vCenter server get installed on the Windows VM?
If I have two host does that mean I must have only one Windows VM but two licenses for Windows?  does both host share that Windows VM?
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by:j_rameses
ID: 35116221
When I install vCenter server, do I first create a VM and install it on it with a Windoes guest OS?
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by:j_rameses
ID: 35116302
I need answers to these questions.  I am taking the certification exam on Monday, if I don't understand this part I might fail.  It is the building block.  I understand everything else about VMware, its only this beginning stuff that is perplexing.  Once I get the concept down it is simple afterwards to understand it.  Please help.
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by:patkremer
patkremer earned 364 total points
ID: 35117543
Each VM is an independent server with its own OS and own IP address.

There is no difference between the "OS VM" and "guest OS". The terms mean the same thing. A virtual machine and a guest are the same thing.  

Yes, you do a full install of Windows on the VM as if it were on a new box. You are correct with how you would build a VM from an .iso. In our case, we don't get DVDs, all our corporate software comes from MS as an .iso download. But if you have the DVDs you can rip an iso and drop it on a datastore.

Once you've done your first clean install of Win2008, you can shut it down and right click to convert it to a template. You can then right-click and "Deploy from template". This will clone your build into a new VM, run sysprep, and the new VM will be ready for you to assign an IP and join to your domain.

You could install vCenter within a VM, and that's fully supported, but if you have a problem with the ESX server you are going to have to have skill with the ESXi command line to get yourself out of the situation. I generally prefer to have vCenter in its own standalone physical server. But I know admins who feel strongly about it both ways.

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by:j_rameses
ID: 35117698
I am wondering if I do an update to the original VM with the Windows OS and if it is good can I pass that updated version to the other VMs since they were from templates or clones?
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by:patkremer
patkremer earned 364 total points
ID: 35117895
No. Once you've cloned the template, the resulting VM is independent of the template.
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by:j_rameses
ID: 35122208
So, that means I have to update each VMs guest OS manually?
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by:patkremer
patkremer earned 364 total points
ID: 35122981
Manually or using whatever management software you currently use for physical server updates. Things like SCOM, WSUS, etc work just fine. A VM on the windows domain behaves the same as a physical server on the windows domain
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by:j_rameses
ID: 35124334
I attended a seminar and they said I apply the update on one and pass it to all.  It now sounds like that is not the case.  It sounds like I have to clone the OS VM and update that one, if nothing is wrong then I switch the VMs and delete one of the them.  Since the update worked on the OS VM and it passed then I could do the update on the rest of the guest OS that is on each VM individually or as a group.  I am wondering if I would have to do a restart on that VM if the guest OS requires it.
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by:patkremer
patkremer earned 364 total points
ID: 35124884
Maybe you're thinking of linked clones with VMware View, the virtual desktop software. ESX doesn't have linked clones, you can't update one and make the change appear on all.

You build a VM from scratch, this is called TemplateA.
You clone TemplateA into VM1.
You clone TemplateA into VM2.
You clone TemplateA into VM3.

You join VM1 to your domain.
You join VM2 to your domain.
You join VM3 to your domain.

You now have 3 VMs on your domain. They function the same as a physical server. You patch them like a physical server. You update them the same as you would update a physical server.  

By "OS VM", you are referring to the template? Sure, you could boot up the template and apply a patch or something and see if it works, then roll the patch out to the rest of your servers.  You would never delete any part of the VM as part of routine maintenance, not sure what you're referencing there.

A VM would require a reboot just the same as any physical server - if a file is in use at the time of the patch installation, a reboot is required.
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by:ajay_walia
ajay_walia earned 70 total points
ID: 35125712
 What gets installed first on the host?
ESX Gets Installed 1st , then you configure it & if you need vMotion & HA you Manage it via a Virtual Center Server else you can manage directly via a VI client

  Is it Windows or VMware?
Its VMware , ESX is a Linux like Operation system which you install on Server & the Virtual Machines runs as its Proccess Or above it .

I noticed that servers come preinstalled with embedded ESXi.  If this is the case, how does the Windows get applied?
1st You would need to ESXI Config , better you download a New Version if available & Install it .
http://www.petri.co.il/installing-vmware-esxi4.htm
http://searchvmware.techtarget.com/tip/Installing-and-configuring-VMware-ESXi

  Do I create a VM and install the Windows onto it?
Yes

Does Windows get installed on the host or the SAN?
If you have SAN COnfigured then SAN , you can create VMs on Host also other OSes.
http://www.vmware.com/pdf/GuestOS_guide.pdf

If Windows is a VM how to I install other applications as VMs?
You install application in the Windows VMs

 Do I create a new VM and then use WIndows as a guest OS?
Yes, You can create other type of OS VMs also
  How does that work if Windows is a VM?
It works Just like a Physical server from User prespective Just the resources like Memory , CPU & network are shared among many VMs

DO I have to configure Windows and ESXi side by side?
NO you install ESXi 1st the the Windows VM

Can you explain the procedure in steps what goes first and how and why?

You install & COnfigure ESXi 1st then the Windows VM
http://www.vmware.com/pdf/GuestOS_guide.pdf
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