Home > Ultimate vSphere Lab > Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab – Part 9: ESXi

Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab – Part 9: ESXi

Now that we have our vCenter running, it’s time to deploy our ESXi hosts.

Depending on the amount of memory you have, you can deploy as many ESXi hosts as you want.  Personally (I have 16 GB), i will install 2 of them.

Start by creating a new Virtual Machine.  Take Custom for the type of configuration.


Hardware Compatibility is Workstation 8.0.

Attach the ISO of VMware ESXi 5.0.  The wizard will detect ESXi automatically for you!


Call it ESXi1 and place it on HDD storage.  There is no use on putting it on SSD storage since ESXi has no real important data to store which is important from a performance point of view.


You can play around with the CPUs/Cores, but i give it a Dual Dual-Core (so cores in total).  Gives you some more cores to play with if you want to dive into the CPU scheduler details.


Give the ESXi host 4GB of memory.


Select Do not use a network connection as we will add it later on.


Accept the standard LSI Logic SCSI controller.

Create a new virtual disk and pick SCSI as the type.

Use a 40GB disk and store it in a Single File.


Complete the wizard and click Finish.

Edit the settings of you newly created VM.  Remove the Floppy and USB Controller.

Click Add and add a Network Adapter.  Attach it to the VMnet2 network.

Repeat the procedure and add a second Network Adapter to the VMnet2 network.  This will give you a screen like this:


Select the Processor item, and select Virtualizae Intel VT-x/EPT or AMD-V/RVI.  This allows you to run x64 guests on these ESXi hosts.


Now before starting and installing ESXi, take a Full Clone of this VM and name it ESXi2.  You can create a fresh VM as well, but cloning it will go faster.


Now, Power On you ESXi1 host.

The ESXi Installer will boot.

Follow the wizard and install ESXi on your 40GB local disk.


Use the same root password as you always do.

The installer will wipe your hard disk…  Let him do so by clicking F11.


After the installation, the host will reboot.  Press F2 to customize it.  You will need to login with root.


Select Configure Management Network.  First, go into Network Adapters and add vmnic1 to the list.


Give it IP and set the default gateway to (DC).


Get into DNS Configuration and set the DNS server (should already be set through DHCP but verify) and change the hostname to esxi1.labo.local.  Do not use capital letters here!


Exit the screens and enter Y to restart the Management Network.


That’s it for the basic ESXi installation… Quite easy eh?

Now repeat this part for ESXi2 (IP =

After the two ESXi hosts have been installed, log on to the DC and open Server Manager – Roles – DNS Server – DNS – DC – Forward Lookup Zones – labo.local.  Create a A Record for both ESXi hosts.

Create a PTR Record as well!


You DNS should like like this:


Move over to the vCenter server.  You must be able to ping both machines using their FQDN now!


Open up vSphere Client.

First, create a new Datacenter and below it, create a new Cluster.

Turn on HA & DRS.


Leave all other settings to default and complete the wizard.

Now, add the two ESXi hosts to the cluster:


That will give this cluster layout in vSphere:


Both hosts will have errors (HA related, but it’s no big deal as we’ll solve them later on).

If you ESXi hosts disconnect continually, check Administration – vCenter Server Settings – Runtime Settings and fill in the IP of vCenter.



Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab – Part 1: The Story

Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab – Part 2: The Hardware

Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab – Part 3: VMware Workstation 8

Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab – Part 4: Base Template

Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab – Part 5: Prepare the Template

Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab – Part 6: Domain Controller

Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab – Part 7: SQL Server

Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab – Part 8: vCenter

Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab – Part 9: ESXi

Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab – Part 10: Storage

Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab – Part 11: vMotion & Fault Tolerance

Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab – Part 12: Finalizing the Lab

Categories: Ultimate vSphere Lab
  1. piotrmikula
    January 5, 2012 at 20:47


    I guess my CPU Xeon E5345 doesn’t support Intel VT-x/EPT option. Is this only going to affect ability to run x64 OS on both ESXi hosts? They installed fine but gave me the warning

    Thank you

    • January 6, 2012 at 08:10


      you can’t run nested x64 VMs on vSphere then (including VDR, …). Fault Tolerance and all other features will work without problems.

  2. abyakta
    January 9, 2012 at 16:55


    i am trying to build a lab as per your info.I have intel i3 with 2 core and 8 GB ram will that affect me lab .will i be able to build the whole lab or not. i am using a laptop.


    • January 10, 2012 at 10:06

      If you can’t upgrade the hardware, you can try the following as memory is your biggest limiting factor:

      – Combine DC, SQL and VC on 1 server. You have to take special actions to install SQL and VC on a Domain Controller. Search the internet for some KB articles
      – Your biggest issue is that if you give your ESXi VMs 3 GB or less, than HA will fail. I don’t know the minimum amount of memory you need, but start with 3 GB and try to enable HA. If it fails, give it some more memory until HA enables just fine.

      Performance will be affected with this config, but if you are lucky, it should work.

  3. abyakta
    January 10, 2012 at 15:01

    Thanks for the suggestion

    combining DC, SQL and VC will really affect my performance. but what memory i should give to that VM then as VC 5 will require a lot of memory. so i am thinking of taking the inbuild database comes with VC will it affect my lab.


  4. Amjad
    January 19, 2012 at 16:33

    If anyone is interested in running nested x64 VMs and you keep getting the error

    “Virtualized Intel VT-x/EPT is disabled for this ESX VM. You will only be able to run 32-bit nested VMs”

    Though you your process is VT capable, after a lot of digging around found this thread


    What worked for me was the following from the thread.

    Create a new VM

    Choose > Custome (advanced)

    Choose > I will install the operating system later

    For the Operating System Choose > Linux

    Version> Red Hat Linux Enterprise Version 4 64-Bit

    Keep going thru the setup for your VM and when you get to the end Click on the Customize Hardware button

    Click the the Processors and choose Preferred mode: Intel VT-x or AND-V (leave the other two options uncheked)

    Click on Display and uncheck 3D graphics if checked

    Click on the CD Rom and mount the ESX iso

    Remove any un-needed hardware

    At this point click finish and make sure you dont turn on the VM.

    Close vmworkstation (make sure vmworkstation is not running before going to the next step)

    Go edit the VMX file of your new VM and add the line below and save the file.


    Run vmwaorstation and install esx!

    This worked for me and I’m able to run 64 Bit OS’s inside my ESX VM on vmworkstation 8.

    I hope this helps someone…

  5. Abs
    March 20, 2012 at 14:51

    First off, thanks for the step by step instructions. They have been super helpful. But I am having an issue with adding the esxi hosts. I can add them, they work fine for 5 mins and then they stop responding (error message says host not responding). Which means I can no longer make and changes or view the settings. Any ideas? I have had a look on the web and think it maybe due to CDP

  6. sarain
    June 11, 2012 at 20:03

    I could not ping esxi1/esxi2 from vcenter server then I had set vlan :4095 in esxi 1 and esx2,then i could ping them from vcenter.Even when i power ON esx servers,i get message saying “The virtual machine’s operating system has attempted to enable promiscuous mode on adapter Ethernet0. This is not allowed for security reasons.
    Please go to the Web page “http://vmware.com/info?id=161” for help enabling promiscuous mode in the virtual machine”This error appears even if the VLAN 4095 is NOT selected.

    Am i doing anything wrong here ???Thanks in advance


    • June 14, 2012 at 22:03

      That’s weird as you don’t have to specify a VLAN normally. Esxi and the vCenter were in the same VMnet network? Then normally you should be able to ping them at the least (verify your subnets as well). And make sure you use the correct vmnic’s on esxi as well.

  7. nuka
    June 30, 2012 at 22:23

    U rock. thanks for this. it was unbelievably helpful!

  8. Phil Brown
    July 16, 2012 at 01:57

    Nice stuff and really helpful. Kudos and my thanks. I ran across a new problem with the new licensing server requirements. You might want to install ESX5i and see what happens with the new requirement to install the vSphere Web Client – once that’s done, a browser opens to run a script, and it requires a flash upgrade to run. Since that’s not possible without a network to the world, you either have to add one, or follow KB 2007713. If you don’t care about licenses, then disregard.

  9. dirtyred
    September 8, 2012 at 22:25

    My Hosts in my cluster (at the end of the tutorial) still have errors. Maybe I missed a step somehow? Other than that seems like everything is now ok.

    • September 11, 2012 at 12:02

      What error do you get? Check the Alarms tab when you have selected the host. That should give you a list of triggered alarms.

  10. rahul
    October 31, 2012 at 01:49

    the hosts keep disconnecting from vcenter and I have to keep connecting it back, its getting annoying? anything I can check for?


  11. Rich
    November 3, 2012 at 14:49

    My hosts keep disconnecting from vCenter as well. The firewall on SQL and vCenter are completely disabled. Any other ideas?

    • November 4, 2012 at 20:13

      That’s weird. Look at the following setting and fill in the IP of your vCenter:

      From the vSphere Client, log in to vCenter Server
      Navigate to Administration > vCenter Server Settings > Runtime Settings and review the Managed IP Address setting.

  12. Rahul
    November 12, 2012 at 08:43

    hi there again, it seems there still seems a prob with disconnecting hosts.few things i have to mention, i guess i wasn’t being completely honest.

    1) i have only 12 gb memory(waiting for the additional 4gb which i have ordered). do you think its coz of memory?
    2) can i set DC, VC and sql vms to use NAT instead of the recommended vmnet2, vmnet 3? Does it matter in terms of the lab?
    3) what version of workstation 8 are u using? any specific build? Can i use workstation 9, read somewhere its more suitable for esxi 5

  13. rahul
    November 12, 2012 at 09:25

    i dont have a ssd yet and running them on a 7200 rpm hd, maybe that’s why they are disconnection?

  14. alone
    November 20, 2012 at 09:49

    It’s great stuff for some one new to VM. I have completed my Home Lab with the help of your this step by step instructions. Thank you very much. Just a question. I have got my vSphere or vCenter 5.1 envirnoment where I created datacenter, imported two ESXI, created data storage. Now do I need to import SQL and DC in to vCenter as well. Do I need to create a new DC and SQL in Datacenter. Please advise, thanks.

    • November 20, 2012 at 17:24

      No, in this setup you don’t import the SQL and DC in the vCenter.

      You could do it theoretically, but then you would have to migrate the DC, SQL (and VC as well) to the virtualized ESXi hosts. It is doable, but makes i more complicated and more important, slower as well.

      Now your infrastructure (DC, VC and SQL) runs directly in VMware Workstation. If you run it on the virtual ESXi hosts, they will perform slower.

  15. Abs
    February 3, 2013 at 14:43

    What happens if your eval period expires for the ESXi servers?

  16. Justin
    February 22, 2013 at 22:06

    What do I connect my vsphere client too? I can get to either ESXi host, but can’t connec to the vsphere server. How would I go about making the clusters? I have 5.1 versions, but so far the lab setup has worked to this point.

    • Justin
      February 23, 2013 at 00:48

      Ok I figured it out I think. The FQDN and IP of the server didn’t seem to work. So I put in with labo\vcadmin and type in PW. also works with the windows login check box. So I take it this is correct since I’m on the vSphere server already?

      • February 24, 2013 at 18:56

        It is indeed correct, but it should work using the IP and FQDN of the vCenter as well.

        Anyway, from the vCenter you can always use localhost or

  17. Bill
    May 8, 2013 at 04:49

    Thanks for the post. I have been looking for this for long time. I have followed your instruction to do the setup, but after all, I am getting a alarm on the ESXi2 server saying that vSphere HA detected that this host is in a different network partition than the master to which vCenter Server is connected. Please help how can I solve this.

    Thank you in advance.

    • August 15, 2013 at 13:22

      That’s a weird one… never saw it actually.

      Do you run 5.0 or 5.1?

  18. JCG
    August 14, 2013 at 20:40

    I was wondering when building out your ESXi hosts, i noticed you allocated 40GB to them, do you really need to allocate that much space? I know at my current employer, when we set up ESXi 5 on physical boxes for our clients, we are loading it usually on a 4GB SD card. I am about to being building out this lab at home, which by the way, thank you for creating this, so i was wondering, do we really need to allocate 40GB to the ESXi hosts.

    • August 15, 2013 at 13:21

      No not at all, even 4 GB will be more than enough.

      40 GB is a bit overkill, but since VMware Workstation does a good job in Thin Provisioning, you don’t actually lose that space in the lab.

      But indeed a good and valid remark!

  19. JCG
    August 15, 2013 at 13:56

    Thank you very much for the quick reply. Again, i love what you did here, finally got my 16GB and SSD drive yesterday, i am now starting to attempt to build the lab, currently my only issue is getting a 2008 R2 ISO… i have server 2003 on CD, and can prob burn an ISO, but i want to do BOTH 2003 and 2008 in my lab. Any suggestions on how i might “procure” an “offsite backup” of server 2008? My only reasoning is if the zombie apocalypse comes, and EVERY copy of server 2008 is rendered useless, i would like to try to preserve a copy for future generations……

  1. June 8, 2012 at 16:43
  2. October 23, 2013 at 02:59

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: