A box inside a box inside a box?

Starting out in a new job and I find myself needing to know way more about VMware than I do now. Luckily, I have not been living under a rock and I know what VMware is. In a very small nutshell, VMware is a virtualization technology that uses hypervisors that basically multiplex the underlying hardware to many virtual machines. Multiple hypervisors are managed by VMware vSphere (Individual hypervisors can be managed by vCenter Client, more on that later). I’m thinking more like a Pistachio nutshell.

I recently acquired a new laptop with 16 GB of RAM and I have gone a little crazy with building Virtual Machines in Oracle Virtual Box and not really having a need for VMware products. Life comes at you fast and you need to learn to adapt or you will no longer be relevant. With a little creative thinking I found a way to build a complete VMware environment with two hypervisors, a vShpere appliance and a couple of real VM’s to vMotion back and forth. Big thanks to sysAdmGirl….she rocks!

Here is a picture of the logical lab environment. Keep in mind there are only two physical devices. The laptop and the Synology data store.

vmwarelab+logic

First things first, you will need to get a copy of Oracle Virtual Box and shutdown anything that is taking up extra RAM on your system, yes Chris, that means you’ll have to shut down TweetDeck as well!

You will see from the diagram the three Oracle VB’s will have 4GB of RAM and a 10GB hard disk and 2 processors. Follow the links to the ESXi hypervisor  (an ISO file), download it and while you are on VMware’s website get the vSphere OVA appliance. Two of  the Oracle Virtual Boxes will be made by using the Oracle Virtual Box interface and create new VM’s make sure to set the network interface cars to “bridged” mode. The third (vSphere) you will just need to double-click the OVA file and it will import into Virtual Box.

When they are all installed and running it will look like this.
vmwarelab+phys

ALERT!!!!! Pay attention here!!!
When you look at the vShere appliance it will say to point your browser to https://some_IP_address:5480. When you do, you will see something that looks like this:

vmwarelab+logic

You are probably thinking, where do I import the ESXi servers?…That’s what I thought too. This screen is to configure the vShpere appliance with single sign on and database storage locations. These are not the droids you are looking for. Drop the port 5480 from your URL and you will be presented the vShpere web client interface.

The VMware vSphere Web Client is a newer interface compared to the VMware vSphere Client (the old school client). The VMware vSphere client is the same tool used to manage a single ESXi hypervisor as well as vSphere. you can find it on VMware site as well. Once it’s installed, just feed it the IP address of your vSphere appliance (minus the port 5480) and off you go!

Alright, now you should have the three VM’s up and running. You will need to create a common data store that is running NFS. I used my Synology Network attached storage device. Find something you can use and figure out how to make it appear as NAS on your lab network. Unfortunately, I don’t know what you will use, so you will have to put on your little grey hat and start looking around. Just Bing it on Google. If you need to know how the ESXi servers connect to the NAS storage you can find that information Here.

What about the VM’s?

OK, so you have this micro environment and we have to find a desktop image we can deploy on our ESXi servers to vMotion back and forth. I found Damn Small Linux (50MB) fits the bill. Get it and load it to the shared NFS storage and use vSphere to create new VM’s on each hypervisor.

You’ve been a good sport so far and I promise we are almost at the end of this exercise. I did this because I thought “I wonder what would happen if I installed VMware in Oracle Virtual Box?” Would it work?  Is it like mixing matter and anti-matter? You are about to find out.

We need to make some slight modification to the ESXi hypervisors network settings so follow along:
vsphere
In this diagram we launch the VMware vSphere Client and give the credentials for the vShpere appliance. Somehow mine is set to root/vmware. Then we click on each hypervisor and edit the networking settings.
vsphere
Drilling down a little deeper, look for the properties and select the Management network (remember, this is for a LAB, in real life you would most likely do something else). Once there, click on the vMotion option to allow vMotion across the Management network.

BOOM! Use the vSphere to “MIGRATE” the DSL VM’s back and forth. Can you say Winner!!!

This is a very brief post about the working of vmware. I found a ton of cool , free, online training  Here at VMware.com

Play Nice, you’re on your way to becoming a VCP!!

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