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VMWare Basics

Posted on 2013-06-25
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I have done a lot, a lot of reading, both from vmware's website, as well as here on EE. Most of it makes sense to me but I am confused at the most basic level. I have installed ESXi 5 and have it booting up--did it first although my ultimate goal is to setup esx 4.1 to run Windows 2003 VMs. I can access esxi5 via the console from another PC. All good and well but how do I access it from the server--there are the basic config menu but how do I get the same access, console access (like I do from another system) on the server itself. In other words how do I go about doing everything from the server instead of having to use a second system to create, monitor and manage esxi (vmvisor?) {On an unrelated note but can someone tell me what esx and esxi stands for--found something that says its expanded sky?} Thank you.
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Question by:lionelmm
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by:Subhashish Laha
ID: 39274595
Difference in ESX and ESXi

http://www.vmware.com/products/vsphere/esxi-and-esx/compare.html

http://www.vmware.com/products/vsphere/esxi-and-esx/faqs.html

Are you accessing the ESXi host using vSphere Client from another machine? And you want the same thing on ESXi host console. If yes, then its not possible on console of ESXi host.

You'll have to access it from another machine using vShpere Client.
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by:lionelmm
ID: 39274615
Is that true for both 4 and 5, since my goal is to create VMs for Server 2003 and that's it?
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by:Subhashish Laha
ID: 39274656
Yes, this is true. To create VMs on ESX/ESXi, you will have to use vSphere Client.
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ID: 39274713
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by:lionelmm
ID: 39275167
hanccocka I have read most of these already--you had given me these links in another question I asked. In that question you told me I would have to use 4.1 if I plan to create Windows 2003 SBS VM's because ESXi 5 has dropped support for those VM's. Did I misunderstand something? Even after all my reading I am having a problem conceptually understanding the logic behind how this works. In Windows you install Hyper-V; you logon to Hyper-V and you create VMs--all from one machine--either physically in front of the system or remotely. This esx or esxi solution seems to require two systems to function--one to run the server and the other to run the client (console). I thought the idea was to reduce hardware requirements but here you need two system to operate one operating system. What am I not understanding?
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LVL 118
ID: 39275221
I don't recall stating Windows 2003 SBS support has been dropped from VMware vSphere 5.x.

The post may have said, SBS if it's OEM is not supported, on any Hypervisor!

Windows 2003 is still supported by VMware vSphere 5.x, see the HCL.

Correct when using VMware vSphere you connect from a Admin Workstation, like most of us have an Admin workstation to connect to servers, to do our job.

Would you use a Server Desktop to do your daily job and browse the internet? It's Windows 2012 and the Hyper-V roll which confuses the issue, a Host Hypervisor Server should have one roll, and that's to Manage Virtual Machines, not really to perform management from them.

ESXi is similar in design to Hyper-V (no GUI or management on the console), you connect from another device.
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by:lionelmm
ID: 39275360
OK so say the network is down and PCs and server are thus no longer connected, that means you cannot check on the server; see what is going on on the server? I work with very small businesses usually 1 to 3 servers, no huge redundancy everywhere so losing a switch or router happens--than server cannot be accessed until switch or router replaced? Trying to sell some of them on VM, not just for the servers but also for Windows 7 or 8. Seems like a tough sell to tell them they now need two systems instead of one to access vSphere when they now RDP into the Windows server or physically logon to it to see what is going on or to tell them that server would become inaccessible if router or switch were to die. Was hoping to use this instead of Windows Hyper-V. How do I overcome this apparent shortcoming?
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by:lionelmm
ID: 39275373
Didn't ESX have a service console included and was removed with ESXi?
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ID: 39275549
In your first post, if you have a switch go down, your workstations and servers would not be able to communicate.

You don't need two systems. Do you not have any workstations in your business, just servers, that everyone logs onto, to browse the internet and use email, that's what users did with Novell netware and Lansmart in the 80s!

A server should be dedicated for the role of such.

There is no real need to access the console, many Admins to connect to Servers using Remote Desktop Connection.

You just need to connect to the host server to create VMs.

Correct, ESX did have a service console which has been removed, but you have not been able to create or manage virtual machines without another PC, even in the early days with ESX, you needed to use a browser. So there still needed another computer to access.

I would not recommend the use of using the Windows 2012 Interactive Desktop to Manage VMs, this is why Microsoft give you the option to remove the GUI!

and manage remotely, which is what you do with VMware vSphere.

Do you not have a workstation in your office to use personally for email?

I think I understand what you are stating, in that if you had a switch fail/router, you could login to the Windows 2012 Server with Hyper-V role, and "touch" the servers, they would not be working, or communicating because if the switch fault.

But does "touching" them a logging on to them make you feel more comfortable because you can see them? compared to ESXi, you would not be able to see them.

Well, in that case why not use a cross-over cable to a laptop?

that would give you the same feeling touchy comfort level....
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by:lionelmm
ID: 39277933
I know that most EE users and experts are in much larger companies than mine but some businesses are much more hands on with their technology and primaries (owners, etc.) want hands on understanding of what's going on--most small businesses have people who must wear multiple hats and to tell them  "that would give you the same feeling touchy comfort level...." is not the way to go. This does not answer the big question of remote connection and admin--in your link to enable ssh remote [Part 5: HOW TO: Enable SSH Remote Access on a VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1 (ESXi 5.1)]; you say this is not recommended and is a potential security risk (even telling us how to turn off this warning) and should not be left open all the time. Well I must remote into my customers servers everyday (almost) and now I can do it without bothering them. It seems you are suggesting that ssh remote be turned on when needed and then turned off again so that would mean each time I need to access the server they would have to enable ssh remote. Is that right?
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Assisted Solution

by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE) earned 500 total points
ID: 39278109
Yes, we understand, we deal with companies from very small to very large. Whether you select VMware, Microsoft, Citrix or Oracle, all have very good hypervisors.

SSH connections to the ESXi Host Server, is used for Troubleshooting only, all functions can be performed via vSphere Client or vSphere Web Client.

We have Clients, that never have the need to use SSH!

As is displayed when you login, it's really a backdoor, that VMware use for troubleshooting, so there should be no need for you to use SSH for your clients, unless troubleshooting issues, but even log collection can now be performed by vSphere Client, VMware has been moving away from a console connection for sometime, hence the removal of the service console, which was considered "too Linux like" which put some people off.

All Management functions are performed via vSphere Client or vSphere Web Client, very little day to day Administration is done via SSH, we manage many VMware vSphere accounts, and we rely on email notifications daily, we then follow up using vSphere Client or vSphere Web Client, we do not use SSH.

Only when service is down, we use SSH for additional troubleshooting (if you know how!, it's Expert Mode! - as VMware Support we state) - it's not for general usage!

otherwise log a Support Request with VMware Support, and they would probably use SSH to get "under the bonnet".

So your last question

It seems you are suggesting that ssh remote be turned on when needed and then turned off again so that would mean each time I need to access the server they would have to enable ssh remote. Is that right?

No, use it if asked by VMware or your Support Agent.

My Article shows you how to enabled, if required and asked! (and it answers a common question here on EE, that's why I've written those articles to address common questions here on EE!).

So what do you think a remote SSH connection gives you?
 (which is no difference to managing a Unix or Linux server by SSH), not that ESXi is Linux or Unix.
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by:lionelmm
ID: 39288296
For me still the big concern and problem is how do I, a Windows user, from a remote location gain access to the ESXi host. I know how to get to the VM's once I create them--just as I do now, but what about the "server", the ESXi host?
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Assisted Solution

by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE) earned 500 total points
ID: 39288354
You mean how do you get to the console?

to get to the console you would need to use an out of band management tool, e.g. HP Integrated Lights Out or HP iDRAC.

These are the same tools that you would also need to access a Windows Server (and Hyper-V).

for some troubleshooting, you could use SSH (which we've already discussed), you could compare and contrast SSH with RDP access to Windows, but in the event of more serious issues, e.g. networking failure on both a Windows and vSphere platform, you would use a out of band management tool.

one of the troubleshooting fucntions which is Restart Network Management Agents, can be performed via SSH.

Shutdown/Restart/Reboot can be performed from the vSphere Client.

other console menu functions, you need access to the physical console or remote management e.g. iLo or iDrac.
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by:lionelmm
ID: 39290367
Right now I can access a Windows server, whether Hyper-V (server 2008) or a regular physical Server 2008 or 2003 SBE, with remote desktop. I can this to all of these and perform most admin tasks--I do not need nor do I have HP Integrated Lights Out or HP iDRAC.. This is what I somehow cannot understand--how to check on the esxi server and its vm's on a daily basis, to check on its status, to stay ahead of potential issues, everyday server management tasks (make sure backups are done, no critical errors in event logs, no hardware errors, etc. etc. etc.)
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LVL 118
ID: 39290401
What happens if the Windows Server does not respond to pings, and you cannot connect via RDP, or has a Blue Screen of Death, does not start-up after Windows Update?

how would you manage it?

how to check on the esxi server and its vm's on a daily basis, to check on its status, to stay ahead of potential issues, everyday server management tasks (make sure backups are done, no critical errors in event logs, no hardware errors, etc. etc. etc.)

all the above can be done via the vSphere Client (which is the same sort of client as an RDP client). There is no requirement to get onto the Host Server (e.g. console or SSH)

RDP Client is to Windows, as the vSphere Client is to ESXi. (but vSphere Client is a true client, as information is supplied to it, installed on your Workstation, RDP just connects you to the host server, via a desktop session.
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by:lionelmm
ID: 39291883
Valid point (What happens if the Windows Server does not respond to pings, and you cannot connect via RDP, or has a Blue Screen of Death, does not start-up after Windows Update?) but not the point I am trying to understand.

vSphere seems to be what I a have been trying to find out about--will look into it.
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Accepted Solution

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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE) earned 500 total points
ID: 39291902
vSphere is the name that VMware have given to their virtualisation brand! They have many product lines under this branding.

The VMware vSphere Hypervisor the latest release of which is 5.1 U1, often called ESXi (used to be called ESX, now a legacy product).

The vSphere Client or vSphere Web Client is used to manage, monitor, configure and report on  VMware vSphere Hypervisor, which is similar to Microsofts Hyper-V Manager, which can be installed on a workstation for management of Microsoft Hyper-V.

The vSphere Client or vSphere Web Client can also be connected directly to ESXi or VMware vSphere vCenter Server for Windows (which is not free!). This product is similar to Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager.
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by:lionelmm
ID: 39310308
VMware vSphere vCenter Server for Windows is not free but the vSphere Client or vSphere Web Client to connect to ESX or ESXi is?
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LVL 118
ID: 39310321
Correct, VMware vSphere vCenter Server for Windows  is a Management Server and is not a free download, this is similar software from Microsoft  called System Center Virtual Machine Manager which is also not free.

vSphere Web Client is used to connect to VMware vSphere vCenter Server for Windows.

vSphere Client is free.
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by:lionelmm
ID: 39323260
OK I think I understand this and have tried to convey it my clients. They like me still struggle with not been able to interact with the server via a console so let e explain why and see what you suggest. This client is in agriculture, office is connected to a barn. It is not uncommon for the to lose all electrical power. When that happens now they go to the "server room" hit crtl-alt-delete and turn off the server that is running on battery backup. If this were to happen with VMs running on ESX or ESXi, with the network down how are they going to shutdown the Windows server (VM) if they can't interact with it at the console. We do have the network switch on a battery backup (because power spikes and fluctuations are common) but that battery will not last more than 5 minutes (has other devices on it) in the event of a total power failure. I fully understand for a situation where you have 10, 20, 100 servers not having a physical console is great but in those situations power and power backups are also much better funded than a situation like this where budgets are the minimal at best. Thank you.
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LVL 118
ID: 39323479
Goto the ESXi console, and select Shutdown, the Hypervisor ESXi, will instruct ALL the virtual machines to also shutdown. It's that simple.

To automate this, you can connect UPS to ESXi console, so this occurs automatically.
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by:lionelmm
ID: 39323644
OK so just like in Windows you can setup ESX or ESXi (or is it just ESXi) to shutdown based on remaining tie in UPS? And ti can also be setup to first shutdown the VMs it hosts? What about when you power it back on, can you set it up to auto start some VMs and leave others as manual?
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LVL 118
ID: 39323823
It's ESXi.

ESXi can be configured for Auto-Start/Auto-Shutdown and also for UPS shutdown.

We are now going off-topic from your original question, on VMware Basics. I believe your original question has been answered, if my answers have been helpful, please assign points.

If you would like to submit more Questions on VMware, myself or other Experts will be glad to assist.
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by:lionelmm
ID: 39323944
You have been very helpful however I do not believe I am veering off the original question; which has to do with console access or the lack of console access and the issues that come with that. So thank you for you help thus far but as you tell me this stuff I then convey it to my client and or anticipate questions they may ask as a result, and then ask the questions they have. 90% of what I have asked have come from the client and not me. Hopefully this will do it for them. I know I have a much better understanding of it and has been an education for me but with all I have learned (which has been a lot) I still see Hyper-V to be a better solution for a shop where people are so familiar with Windows.
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LVL 118
ID: 39323983
When we start discussing other topics of UPS shutdown, VM start-up and shutdown, it's gone beyond the original question of console access, and requires a seperate question.

Whether you pick Microsoft, VMware, Citrix or Oracle, all good hypervisors.

If you want to carry on discussing your original question that's fine. If you want to post new questions asked by your Client, that requires a new EE question.
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by:lionelmm
ID: 39324545
OK makes sense--thank you for you help.
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LVL 118
ID: 39324569
No problems.
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by:lionelmm
ID: 39326652
What does ESX stand for?
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ID: 39326808
this is really a new question!?

but it's Elastic Sky

you asked!

there was also a GSX - Ground Sky!
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by:lionelmm
ID: 39326839
This is on my original question
........can someone tell me what esx and esxi stands for..........
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LVL 118
ID: 39326957
I think people throught you wanted to know what ESX/ESXi was, rather than what the abbreviations stood for!

ESXi/ESXi

it's not really relevant for what it means, it's gobbledegook

It's an Enterprise Bare Metal Type 1 Hypervisor!
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