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What is the process of installing VMware and Windows to a new environment?

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.
I was informed to take a course which i did but the part of VMware and Windows stumps me.
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?
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?
When I install vCenter server, do I first create a VM and install it on it with a Windoes guest OS?

Your assistance with this will be greatly appreciated and rewarded.
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Question by:j_rameses
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coolsport00 earned 450 total points
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ESXi gets installed on the physical hardware. It's its own "OS", so to speak. Think of a VM as simply files. Windows comes into play as an "OS" install inside the VM. Maybe it's best to think of it as a 'hierarchy'?...not sure. You have ESXi installed on the physical server. Then you create a bunch of VMs on it. Well, those VMs are the same as having a bunch of physical servers, but in 1 location...on the ESXi host. Those VMs, like phys machines, need an OS, right? So, you have to install Windows (or some other OS). You can stall as many apps within a VM as you'd like. Just like if the VM were a phys box, you have to worry about performance and interaction with other apps, so when possbile, you need to discern when to separate apps within a VM and what can 'play nice with each other' on the same VM. If you have 15 VMs, you can have whatever OS you want. If that's Windows, then yes, you would have 15 Windows OSs on those VMs. Don't really think of ESXi as an OS in the traditional sense (that's really what's confusing you I think...at least partly). Think of it as hypervisor software that is a 'repository' and mgmt interfact of virtualized physical boxes. Does that help?

Yes, you do a full install of Windows on a VM, as you would a phys box. By 'ISO', we mean the same was we would for physical boxes...you use an ISO to install Windows within a VM. You use an ISO to install the hypervisor (ESXi) in the physical host. You don't stop using Windows, you use both ESXi and Windows, as I've described above. Windows within a VM; ESXi on the physical host. Now, if you dont have an ISO for your Windows install, that's ok...you don't need it. You place the install CD/DVD in your CD drive, then connect the VM to your CD (or the physical ESXi host CD) drive, and when the VM reboots, it will 'see' the CD drive as its own and go through the install.

You can install vCenter on a physical Windows box, or on a Windows VM...it's your choice. vCenter will be used for any host you have licensed to use the version of vCenter you have (Foundation or Std).

Hope that helps.

~coolsport00
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by:coolsport00
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I recommend (highly) you to look at the following "guides"
"Introduction to vSphere": http://www.vmware.com/pdf/vsphere4/r41/vsp_41_intro_vs.pdf
"Getting Started": http://www.vmware.com/pdf/vsphere4/r41/vsp_41_esx_get_start.pdf
"ESXi/vCenter Install Guide": http://www.vmware.com/pdf/vsphere4/r41/vsp_41_esx_vc_installation_guide.pdf

Regards,
~coolsport00
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by:j_rameses
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coolsport00,

SO the first thing I need is ESXi on the box/host, either it be installed or imbedded.
Then from there do I create the datastore so i can create a VM for the Windows OS?
Or do I create a datastore then a VM for vCenter Server?
I think its a datastore, then a VM and the Windows OS.  Am I correct?
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by:j_rameses
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So, when I create VMs, I must assign a guest OS.  Does it install an OS to that VM or it just references that OS?  Do, I have to install the Win OS on both hosts or just one host:VM?  I am a nervous wreck about this.  I really want tp ass the exam and not take it again.  I understand everything else except this beginning stuff.
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by:coolsport00
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1. Yes, you 1st need ESX/ESXi installed directly on the host.
2. From there, if you install ESX/ESXi on the same RAID disks as the storage you want to have for datastore storage, your datastore will automatically show up when you log into your host with the vSphere Client. If you have separate RAID disks on your phys host for VM/data storage (datastore), you will add the datastore after the ESX/ESXi install.
3. Then you create a VM on the datastore.
4. You create a VM, then you install the guest OS within the VM...it *is* a full install of the OS. No, you only install the OS within a VM. Don't be nervous...don't make it overly complicated...it's complicated enough :)

~coolsport00
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by:j_rameses
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So, I create an ESXi on the host.
Connect the SAN to it.
Through ESXi I create a datastore in the SAN.
Afterwards, I create a VM for the Windows OS and install the OS on it.
Then I configure Windows(domain, active directory, etc.)
Then I create another VM and install vCenter server to it with Winodws OS as a guest OS.
Then I configure vCenter(vswitch,vNics, etc.).
Then when that is done I create the other VMs with Windows OS and install the apps on it.

Can you provide me with a breakdown in steps so I can get a visual?
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by:coolsport00
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Well, you don't "create" the ESXi host...you install ESXi hypervisor software on your host.
Yes, connect your SAN to your host
You create RAID groups/LUNs on your SAN
You then add storage (i.e. datastore) to your ESXi host
Create a VM; add an OS to the VM; what you do with the VM, app-wise, etc. is up to you
Yes, you can create another VM with Windows and install vCenter on it; you can then connect to vCenter with the vSphere Client to manage your ESXi host(s) instead of connecting to the host(s) directly with the vSphere Client

There isn't anything more to 'break down'...that's it. The rest of the info you need is in the Guides above.

~coolsport00
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by:j_rameses
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Thank you for the info.
I guess when I create a VM I must make sure to allocate storage to cover the app and the Windows OS.  I have another question.  When I create a VM and use the guest OS as Windows, does it do an install or just a copy of the OS VM onto the new VM, in which then I apply the new app unto the VM?  Or do I have to do an install or point to the .iso and do a plain install.  When we did it in class we pointed to the .iso and the install took like 2 minutes with no user interaction.  For the other VMs is it the same.  I thought that the new VM will point to the Windows OS VM but does it copy it unto itself?  I know it sounds like I am beating a dead horse but I just want to make sure I understand it correctly.
Regarding ESXi, I meant to say install not create.  Sorry for that its that my mind is racing and nervous about the exam on Monday.  Did you take the exam?  I am curious what the exam was like.  Was it intense or average?
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by:coolsport00
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Its an install...
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by:j_rameses
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Is it a complete install that I have to configure it as the original OS VM? or is it a simple install with the basics?
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Its an install like if it were a phys box
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by:j_rameses
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Wow, that is crazy.  A full install of Windows OS for each VM I create.  Do they have to be configured as the original OS VM first created?  Or can I make a clone of it (the OS VM) and then install the app to it?
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by:coolsport00
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You can clone...
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by:j_rameses
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That I remember from class because doing a full install everytime would be crazy.  If I do an update to the original OS VM can I pass that to the other VMs guest OS?
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by:coolsport00
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No. "j_rameses"... I've answered this post fully & then some. If you have any further questions, I recommend reading the guides I provided then opening a new EE post/question if need be.

Regards,
~coolsport00
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by:j_rameses
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Thats a bummer that I have to update all the guest OSs on each VM.
Ok, I'll read the guides you provided.
Thank you for your time.
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by:coolsport00
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Please close this question/assign points as appropriate...

Thanks.

Regards,
~coolsport00
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by:Roshan_c
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hi,

You can do a complete installation on one of the VM with windows OS put all the updates etc. and prepare a snapshot. then on any new VM can use the same snapshot so no need of fresh installation. but this will be possible if you want same OS on all the VM. i.e. if the Snapshot copy is of windows 2008 R2 then new build VM from that will also be windows 2008 R2
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Roshan_c,

Thank you for the info, how about if I already have 20 VMs created with the guest OS as Windows?  I do the updates on the OS VM but is there a way to pass those updates to the other VMs that are using that guest OS automatically inistead of manually doing updates on each one?

coolsport, I will assign the points after this final question is answered.  I have not forgotten.
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by:coolsport00
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DO NOT USE SNAPSHOTS FOR ANYTHING BUT TEST. You can't disperse a VM snap with updates to other VMs. You disperse updates to VMs via Update Mgr. Read up on the use and best practices of snapshotting in Vmware's KB, as well as the use of Update Mgr.

This question has been answered to its fullest and should be closed. You can't ask numerous questions outside of your original one in a post. For more on 'success tips' here on EE, see here: http://www.experts-exchange.com/help.jsp#hs=23&hi=23

~coolsport00
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One more note on creating your VMs - install the OS on a VM, apply all Windows updates/patches. If there are any apps/software (like A/V, etc.) that will be consistent across all your VMs, then install it on this 1st VM. When this "base" VM is complete, make it a template (rt-click on the VM and choose to create a template). You can then create multiple VMs with all updates, etc at the time of the orig VM creationg by "deploying VM from template" procedure (rt-click on the template and choose 'deploy Vm from Template').

~coolsport00
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Understanding Snaps:
http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1015180
Snap Best Practices:
http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1025279

~coolsport00
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by:j_rameses
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I know I asked a lot of questions but the concept is confusing.
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It's a lot..yes, but you really need to set up a test system to deploy/play with so you can "see" how it all works together, pictorially speaking.

~coolsport00
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I will do that before deploying then.  Thank you for your assistance.
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