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Installing ESXi with VMware Go

By: Matt Sarrel, CISSP, Founder and Executive Director of Sarrel Group

In many small businesses, common barriers to virtualization are lack of expertise and initial upfront costs. VMware Go Pro provides cloud-based step-by-step wizards guide to novices and experienced virtualization administrators alike through deploying and managing virtualization.  VMware asserts that with this new release, users will now be able to deploy VMware vCenter via a web browser for centralized management of their virtualized infrastructure in 30 minutes or less.

Today I put VMware Go to the test.  I have a test workstation that I’m preparing to install VMware ESXi onto.  It is an Intel Core 2 Quad CPU Q6600 running at 2.40 GHz with 8 GB of RAM and a 500 GB hard drive currently running Windows 7 Ultimate N.  I know from experience that I can run ESXi on a machine like this with no trouble, and can easily run 4-6 virtual machines on that ESXi instance.  But that’s a fairly manual process, so who wants to do that?

In order to get started I launched Internet Explorer from my test machine and browsed https://go.vmware.com where I logged in.  Please note that a little bit later I discovered that the installation could not take place on the same machine logged into VMware Go.  It would be nice for VMware to tell you this, but they don’t, so I am.

Normally I would launch IT Advisor, but this time I’m clicking on the Virtual tab to launch the Virtualization Setup Wizard.  This page has detailed instructions, including video tutorials, for installing an ESXi hypervisor, managing an existing ESXi hypervisor, or managing an existing vCenter Server.

From the dropdown box I choose Install an ESXi Hypervisor and the wizard starts.  All I really have to do is click Get Started.  There are five steps to installing an ESXi hypervisor using VMware Go:

  1. Choosing a Windows machine to install onto
  2. Test the Windows machine for compatibility
  3. Configure Settings like host name and IP address
  4. Automatic Installation
  5. Manage Online after the install is complete.

After I click Get Started a window pops up to install the VMware Go agent and required components.  This is very straightforward and I basically click next a few times.  At this point I have to refresh my browser window, login to VMware Go again, and choose Install an ESXi hypervisor from the dropdown box.

At this point the wizard wants to test the target machine for compatibility.  An important thing to do before the scan is to disable User Account Control and security software that might interrupt the scan.  I enter the IP address of the target machine and check the box to use current windows session credentials.  VMware Go scans the machine to make sure that the hardware meets or exceed minimum requirements.

My machine passed, which I knew it would, but the wizard alerts me that Windows is configured for DHCP and ESXi would like a static IP address.  I also have to enter a hostname for my new ESXi server.

After clicking Next, VMware Go displays a summary page listing the configurations that I’ve already made earlier in the wizard, so I can just click to start the installation, sit back and watch.

During the installation, VMware Go shows the tasks that run.  Which is comforting so I know what’s going on.  I can see that the test machine has rebooted and is running the ESXi installation routine locally.  I’m not prompted to answer any questions as I already have using the VMware Go virtualization wizard.

And then, bang, the target machines reboots and comes up running ESXi.  I have to admit, that was pretty easy.

As a final step, I press enter and the test machine reboots in order to provide me with the comfort of the familiar ESXi home screen.  The next step is to load a browser and login to the ESXi server, download VMware vSphere client, start managing my hypervisor and installing new virtual machines.

From start to finish, that process took less than half an hour (it actually took longer to write about it!).

Want to learn more about VMware Go Pro or try it free for yourself? Click here.