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Nested ESXi Environment

Dear Experts,

I am newbie to VMware’s Platform thus I am planning creating a Virtual Lab, using a Hosted Dedicated Server.

For testing the vMotion and HA features I will need 2 ESXi Servers (on one physical server).

Therefore how should I configure the Server in order to run Nested ESXi?
(Kindly advise the required procedure in detail)

Thanks in Advance,
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4 Solutions
Muhammad MullaCommented:
Depending on your base hypervisor that you install on your hosted server there will be different methods of achieving this. VMware has a quick guide at: https://communities.vmware.com/docs/DOC-8970
mamelasAuthor Commented:
Dear OfflineGeek,

Thank you for the provided documentation.

Unfortunatelly I am more confused now.

What is the recommended platform of host hypervisor? (ESXi or Windows with VMware Workstation?)
If the Host Hypervisor is ESXi how should I install the 2  guest ESXi hypervisors on top of him?
Muhammad MullaCommented:
I would recommend an ESXi host (currently version 5.5).

You will need to:

Connect to the host using a locally installed vsphere client.
Unless you have a vCenter license and install the web client, you will not be able to fully take advantage of nested ESXi, but it can be done as follows:
Create 2 VMs as:
Choose Custom Configuration and choose a datastore (most likely the local datastore in your case)
Select VM version 8
For Guest OS choose Other 64 bit
Select minimum of 2 cores, 4GB RAM, 2 NICs, LSI Logic Parallel, disk mimum of 910 MB and 5.5GB if you want local persisten scratch
After it's been created edit the VM General Options and change Other 64 bit to VMWare ESXi 5.x

Have a look at http://www.v-front.de/2014/01/how-to-provision-nested-esxi-hosts-on.html for more.
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Alessandro ScafariaInfrastructure Premier Field AdministratorCommented:
May I ask a question?
Why would you plan to use a cost consuming hosted server and not a “simple” local workstation?

Here is my VMware lab in a Windows 7 machine with VMware Workstation 10 on it:

•      Intel Core i7 2860QM “Sandy Bridge” CPU (Quad-core, 2.5 GHz, 8MB L3 cache)
•      64 GB DDR4 RAM
•      2x 512 GB SSD SATA
•      Windows 7 x64 with VMware workstation
•      Dual graphics: Intel HD 3000 + nVidia Quadro 2000M

With this specs you can test basically what you want in your Lab.

Actually, this is my configuration:

•      vSphere 5.5 environment composed of 3 ESXi hosts (2 in a cluster and 1 stand-alone) with 1 vCenter Server (on another Windows Server VM)
•      A Hyper-V environment composed of 2 clustered hosts (with a CSV) and 1 stand-alone host.
•      A Windows 2012 fileshare server
•      2 Virtual Storage: an Openfiler installation and a Data Ontap NetApp Simulator.
•      A “virtual VTL” (mhVTL) to test tape backups.
•      A Windows 2012 Server VM for Veeam Backup & Replication.
•      A Windows Server VM for Veeam ONE.
•      A Windows Server VM running System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) and Veeam Management Pack

Here is a detailed guide:


Then, if you want to configure Openfiler as an “iSCSI SAN” for your lab, you may follow this guide:


Let me know your thoughts and feedback.
mamelasAuthor Commented:
@Offline Geek & @Alessandro Scafaria

My PC at Work is not that powerful unfortunately.
I am Planning downloading a Trial 60Day version of vSphere 5.5.

I assume that:
- via Provider’s KVM I will powerup the “physical ” server
- It will ask me for a boot drive
- I will load the ESXi iso file
-After completion the “physical” server will boot and ESXi’s main page will appear (the one that looks like BIOS)  

From your comments I assume that I will need a windows machine ,in the same ip network,
and the windows vSphere client installed in order to access the ESXi (“physical” server) and create the nested 2 ESXi VM’s.

In this case and given that my “physical” server is now running ESXi:
Q1) Since the “physical” server is now being used by the Host ESXi, where/how will I create the Windows VM
with vsphere client?
Q2) How will I configure Provider’s network in order all machines to be under the same IP network? (I have never used before such service, therefore I don’t know the provided options of the Server’s administrator’s page)
Alessandro ScafariaInfrastructure Premier Field AdministratorCommented:

I just want to remember you that in cloud hosting, CPU and RAM are very cost consuming.

If you really want to test HA features, you need RAM and CPU to create in the cloud a “simple” lab.

Attached for example there is a Microsoft Azure calculation for a Virtual Machine that could fit your case study.
This is the reason why I advised you on buying a local Workstation instead.

Anyway, if you want to setup a Lab in the Cloud, the roadmap you were suggesting could be rough both to create and to manage from your PC.

I suggest instead:

1.      Install Windows on your Cloud Machine (could be Windows Server 2012 R2 for example)
2.      Inside this Windows Server install VMware Workstation 10
3.      Follow my tutorials in my previous post to re-create a lab inside VMware Workstation

Remember always that you need at least 24GB RAM available in the Window machine to have a discrete lab with HA turned on.

At this point you’re free to have fun and manage your ESXi infrastructure just installing the vSphere Client in the Windows machine (you’ll have all tools in the cloud and nothing in your local PC).

Let me know your thoughts.
mamelasAuthor Commented:
Dear Alessandro Scafaria,

Thank you for your in detail replies.

Exactly the main idea is to have all tools in the Cloud and access my VM Lab from Home or Work remotely.

I have found a Dedicated Server (not VM) with about 50euros per month and below Specifications:

Dell PowerEdge R220
1x Intel Xeon  E3 1230 v3 @ 3,3GHZ (4 cores 8 threads)
2x 1 TB SATA3

and with the following Network Specifications:

Connectivity: 1 Gbit/s
Internal bandwidth:  1 Gbit/s
Internet bandwidth guaranteed:  Premium 300 Mbit/s
Traffic:  Unmetered
IPv4 addresses:  1 address IPv4
IPv6 addresses:  bloc /48

with the above specs is the installation of Windows Server and VMware Workstation the only solution or could I install somehow 1 Host ESXi and inside him 2 ESXi guests?
Alessandro ScafariaInfrastructure Premier Field AdministratorCommented:
Basically you can do whatever you want, but installing ESXi directly in a LAB environment it’s simply unconventional.

Let me explain why….basically because you need all tools in one hand and you didn’t want to ask permissions to someone in your lab :-)

ESXi is designed to be a “light” OS for production environment that has to be managed mostly by Windows machines (or Virtual Appliances)…so sometimes is rough to deal with “light” OS….you need at least another Windows machine in the same network (in your case in a VPN with your hosting provider).

Dealing with VPN sometimes can be time consuming….

Let me explain this typical case study…..you want to upload an ISO on your ESXi datastore…..how could you perform this task?
In your idea of deployment, you have 2 choices:

1.      Download the ISO on your PC and upload via VPN directly to your ESXi host (really time consuming).
2.      Create a Windows VM on your ESXi host and inside it download the ISO, install vSphere Client from there and upload from there (no time consuming).

But let’s focus on the 2nd choice……It’s exactly what I suggested at first……why doesn’t install on the ground Windows, then install VMware Workstation on it (it’s a very powerful application…..you can do everything you want…..you may create vlan, subnets, statis routes, all!) and inside Workstation recreate “your VMware LAB world”?

But this is what I should do…..just take those thoughts “AS IS”, not as a “TO BE” :-)

Let me know…..
mamelasAuthor Commented:
Thank you for you professional answers!
You have pointed out the right choise for my case!!
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